Chris “Fox” Wallace has been around poker for longer than many new players have known how to calculate pot odds. He recently won his first WSOP gold bracelet and he is the newest addition to the PokerUpdate team. Every week, Chris will share his knowledge and experience as a professional player and poker coach with readers of PokerUpdate.
The Fox’s Den
This week we will be looking at a hand that I played in a $1,000 buy-in event at Running Aces poker room here in Minnesota. I had been raising quite a few hands and felt like I was playing very well, so I raised a pair of deuces under the gun. My opponent was a solid player who plays fairly tight, isn’t super creative, and very rarely makes a big mistake or gets out of line. He is smart enough to run a big bluff, but I have not seen him do so in a big spot. We’ll call my opponent Sam.
My raise was around 2.3 big blinds, a standard number for me late on day one when the blinds are starting to get big in relation to the stacks. Sam called on the button and everyone else folded. The flop was #Ad#7s#2s, and I bet my set of deuces. We both started the hand with a little over 60 big blinds, and I could see a big hand potentially developing if Sam had AK or AQ.
The pot was just over 7 big blinds, so I bet 4.5 big blinds and Sam called. He has very little expression when he is in a hand, so I wasn’t able to get any feel for how strong his hand might be in this spot. Most of the time he has a suited ace here or two spades in this spot and is just calling to see what happens on the turn before he commits a significant portion of his stack.
The turn was the ace of spades, pairing the top card and bringing in the flush while giving me a full house. Gin! This looks like a chance for me to win a monster pot, but only by betting. If I check, it looks like I am either being sneaky with a monster or have nothing, and either way I limit the size of the pot I can win.
If Sam has a flush here he will definitely raise me since he will expect me to have an ace with a big kicker fairly often and his flush can beat any big ace. If he has an ace it is a big ace, so I am beating almost his entire range. He could have a suited ace that flopped two pair and have me drawing nearly dead, but I think he would fold a small suited ace preflop. I also think he would reraise preflop if he had aces, so quads are out as well. The only hand that can beat me is a set of sevens.
The pot was around 15 big blinds now, and Sam and I both had about 55 big blinds in our stacks. With such a perfect turn card I really expected to be raised. I bet 8 big blinds and Sam just called my bet. Once he calls I can narrow his range down with a little more certainty. If he has a flush it is a big one, almost certainly king high. With a smaller flush he would have to raise to punish me if I have a big spade. Sam might also call with an ace here, and he might also call with a full house which would have to be sevens full of aces.
The river was the queen of diamonds, so the final board was –
I was a little worried about Ace-Queen, since it was a significant portion of his range, but Ace-King, Ace-Jack suited, and any two spades were also in that range. If I checked I believed he would check behind with everything except Ace-Queen and 77 and I would be missing value when most of his range was losing and could call my bet.
The pot was about 31 big blinds and I was worried that Sam might not call if I bet too much. He must be considering the possibility that I have Ace-Queen if he had a flush or an ace of his own, so I thought a small bet was much more likely to be called. I had 42 big blinds left and I bet 15 of them. Sam didn’t think for long, just calmly pushed out a raise that would put me nearly all-in.
I thought for quite some time about what this might mean. Do yourself a favor and stop reading for a moment and think about what you would have done in this situation and why.
Sam is a sharp guy, could he be bluffing here? No, I didn’t think so. He can’t expect me to fold. If he isn’t bluffing, what hands is he raising for value? I don’t believe he raises with a flush. I don’t believe he raises with an ace, not even Ace-King. That leaves a full house. He must have a full house. And I can’t beat any full house. I have to fold here.
I know most intermediate players would call and then tell the bad beat story for a week, but an advanced player has to fold here. I almost always fold in this spot. The only time I don’t fold is if I am running good, winning every pot, and on a sneaky form of tilt where I can’t stand to see my chip stack drop. Unfortunately, after a minute or so, which is a long tank for me, I called. I knew it was wrong, but I called.
Sam rolled over 77, one of the two hands I knew he must have, and I was crippled with one or two big blinds left in my stack. I played great all day, I really did, and then punted off my stack near the end of day one because I couldn’t make the play that I knew was right. So we have a lesson in hand reading, and another lesson on how important it is to be psychologically ready to make the right play at the right time every time.
Next week we’ll cover a hand where I get raised on the river with three spades on the board and a set in my hand and I make the right play instead of blowing it!