Poker Hand of the Week: Strong Threat, Strong Execution

What do you do with a decent overpair if the board gets wetter and wetter on every street?

If you’ve ever played a couple of cash games, you know what that situation feels like.

Your overpair is almost never going to improve and your opponent might even have a higher pocket pair. It’s a spot where you can end up getting crushed terribly.

Jared Jaffee and Jim Carroll faced that very situation at the Golden Gate Casino.

Body Language Says It All in Poker

We’re guests at the Golden Gate in Las Vegas for a new episode of Poker Night in America. The game is $25/$50 NLHE and the line-up is a healthy mix of amateurs and professionals.

In the hand in question, Brandon Cantu has put in a $100 straddleJim Carroll – who has over $3 million in tournament winnings – opens with a raise to $400.

He has J clubs J J spades J It’s folded to Jared Jaffee on the button who re-raises to $1,275. The blinds fold and Cantu gets out of the way, too.

Carroll decides to call and the two players go to the flop with each of them having about $15,000 in front of them and $2,725 in the pot.

The flop is 7 clubs 7 2 clubs 2 2 diamonds 2 . Carroll checks and Jaffee bets $1,550. Carrol makes the call.

There's $5,825 in the pot and both players have roughly $13,500 behind. The turn is the 9 hearts 9

Carroll has already checked in the dark and Jaffee fires another barrel of $4,200. Carroll gives up his hand after a little hesitation.

Jaffee wins a $10k pot and shows 5 diamonds 5 3 diamonds 3   Watch the hand again in the video below and pay extra attention to the body language of Carroll.

Poker Hand Analysis

As we said before, this situation probably sounds familiar. You have a good hand out of position and are put under pressure all the time.

Carroll und die Buben

Does your opponent maybe have a higher pair? How could Carroll have gotten away from Jaffee’s pressure? Could he have avoided getting into that spot at all?

Carroll's open with JJ is a standard move but then Jaffee pops it up to $1,275 from the button. When the other players fold and the action comes back to him, Carroll needs a plan for how to proceed.

Right now raise, call and fold are all legitimate options. But which one is best? Let’s take a look at each of them.

1) Call – By calling Carroll can keep Jaffee in the hand with his full button 3-bet range. But he also has to brace himself for at least one overcard on the flop (this happens the majority of times) and for a tough time out of position.

2) Re-raise – A 4-bet to about $3,500 would have a couple of advantages as Carroll might be able to take down the pot of $1,500 right there. He might also be able to lay it down to a 5-bet. Both players are deep enough that Carroll wouldn’t be pot-committed even after his 4-bet.

3) Fold – Against a very tight player you might even consider folding pocket jacks to a 3-bet, but against any regular player that would be far too weak of a play and easily exploitable.

That means we’re basically down to call or re-raise. As we’ll see, the decision depends on the opponent.

Carroll Already Uncomfortable

After Carroll makes the call the flop is rather friendly to him. There's no overcard so he’s probably still ahead if he was ahead before the flop. The only reasonable hand that has overtaken Carroll’s jacks is a pair of sevens.

Consequently Carroll check-calls Jaffee’s bet of a little over half the pot. However, if you look at Carroll, you can clearly see that he already doesn’t feel comfortable with his hand.

Although he calls rather quickly his body language doesn’t really confirm the move. But this is a must call as Jaffee will continue here not only with better hands than Carroll’s but with basically every hand.

Carroll’s plan has to consider that against such an aggressive player he'll probably have to face two more barrels.

Carroll Gives Up On the Turn

Apparently Carroll’s plan was to call the flop and fold the turn whatever the board is as he folds pretty quickly when Jaffee fires $4,200.

Carroll's aware that not only will he have to pay the $4,200 but probably more -- maybe everything -- to get to showdown.

If Carroll calls the turn he invests more than a third of his stack, which means that from a mathematic standpoint he’d have to call the river, too.

But does that mean folding here is the right move? That depends on several factors. The two most important are:

The Threat is Stronger than the Execution

Let’s take on range first. Sure, it has aces and kings in it. But a player like Jaffee would also 3-bet hands like 9-8 or A-J.

Jaffee zeigt den Bluff

We also have to take into account that Jaffee might have flopped a club flush draw and is trying to break Carroll’s resistance by betting twice.

The only thing that’s for sure is that Jaffee isn’t necessarily holding premium hands and is very capable of a double-bluff.

The question that remains is whether Jaffee would really bet out again on the river. But we simply can't get a satisfactory answer to it.

This hand is overall a good example for how important aggression and position are at the table and how much persistence is required when your opponent has the upper “hand."

In the great game of chess they say that “the threat is stronger than the execution." It’s the threat of an all-in that makes Carrol fold his jacks on the turn versus a hand that he has beat.

He possibly regretted afterwards that he didn’t go for the 4-bet pre-flop.


Jared Jaffee makes Jim Carroll fold a much better hand with his massively aggressive play. Part of Carroll’s demise was that he capped his range when he made the pre-flop call while Jaffee still had kings and aces in his.

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