NLHE Poker Hands: Tourney Example #2

Continued from: Practice Hands: Tournament Example #1

Let's look at another poker tournament example. You are playing in a NLHE tourney. Each player starts with 1000 tourney chips. You are in round one with $10-25 dollar blinds. You are UTG with KdKc. You raised to $100 before the flop and got called by two players.

NLHE Poker Hands

The first caller a couple seats to your left seems weak. You've seen him show down some bad hands and play almost every flop. He calls a lot and rarely raises; he's exactly who you wanted to call you. The other player called from the button and will have position on you after the flop. He seems to be a good player, so he probably has a hand. You've always seen him re-raise with AA and other really strong hands, so you have to believe you're ahead right now, unless he's decided to trap.

There's $335 in the pot right now and you are first to act. The flop comes out Ad4cAs. What's your play?

  • A) Make a large bet, maybe 2/3 the pot. That'd be enough to maybe get raised by an ace and small enough that you could still get away from the hand.
  • B) Check with the intention of folding if there's a bet because both of these players could easily have called with an ace in their hand.
  • C) Check with the intention of check raising, representing the three aces.
  • D) Check with the intention of calling a small to moderate bet. If you check-call and there is a bet on the next street, you can get away from the hand because it would look too much to your opponents that you are slow-playing a set for them to bluff a second time. The next bet would probably mean extreme strength.
  • E) Make a standard continuation bet of ½ the pot, hoping that someone will call with an inferior pair.

Well, anytime you have multiple opponents in a hand there's a good chance one of them has an Ace. The appearance of two aces on the flop does diminish those chances though. No one's going to believe that you have a set of aces if you bet or even check-raise. You just wouldn't play them that way. The weak player is too dumb to fall for a bluff, and the good player is too smart. If you really had made a set of Aces you would certainly check-call with them. Therefore, if you check you're opponents may be afraid to bet into you for fear of you having the set… you did raise UTG before the flop.

I think D is correct. If you check, most likely neither player will bet. If there is a bet from the strong player in late position, I would smooth call a small to medium bet, probably no more than $200. If the weak player in the hand calls, you'll have to proceed with caution - in that case it's very likely that one of them has the ace. If the weak player raises, you're done with the hand right then and there; you're beat. Assuming the weak player folds after you call, the strong player who made the raise is probably going to have to give you credit for an ace unless he has one himself. In most cases I'd check the turn and fold if he bet again. He'd have to be a very reckless player to bluff at that board a second time the way the hand developed. If he checked behind me I would be ready to bet out on fifth street for value.

The only time I would bet the turn is if a king flopped. The reasoning is as follows: if my opponent doesn't have an ace he's not going to bet into my full house, so if I check I'm not going to make any money on this street. If my opponent does have the set he's going to pay me off when I bet. If my opponent is a tight player he might not bet with an ace with a relatively low kicker, say a jack. He would have to call though. Also, if my opponent decides that I don't have the set I'm representing, because he feels I'd play it slower, he may re-raise me with or without a hand. Additionally, if my opponent has the set he may have checked behind me trying to trap costing me a bet. He may also re-raise me with the set when I bet into him, allowing him to commit himself to the pot so I can re-raise him all-in right now.

Let's say you checked to the fish, that player checked, and then the last player made a bet of $170. You called the bet and the other player folded. Now the 4d comes off for a board of Ad4cAs4d. The four of diamonds might look docile enough, but that was a horrible card for you. This just became an incredibly complicated situation, and a pretty strange one. Now there are two diamonds out there and you have a reasonable chance of having the best hand. If your opponent is on a flush draw and you opt to go with your original game plan of check-fold/check-check-bet, you run the risk of letting your opponent have a free card that could beat you.

Another problem with this situation is that the pairing of the board has made a full house for your opponent if he has the ace. That fact coupled with the potential flush draw that just appeared would possibly make your opponent inclined to check his boat after you check, hoping to let you draw to a flush so he could take all your chips. That's gonna make it pretty hard to assume that he doesn't have the ace if he checks after us. We've just entered some pretty murky water. What should we do?

  • A) Stick with our check-fold/check-check-bet plan.
  • B) Take the lead with a very large bet, maybe pot sized to define our hand right now; our opponent might even put us on quad fours.
  • C) Check with the intention of folding to a bet, but now be more inclined to check the hand down instead of leading out on the river.
  • A) Bet a bit more than half the pot, maybe $400, to shut down the flush draw.

Well, let me give you my take on the situation. If we go way back to the pre-flop action we'll remember that our opponent (whom we believe to be very strong) called a large early position raise with his hand. That seems to suggest he either had some sort of pocket pair or an Ace high hand like AK or AQ. Therefore the emergence of the flush draw potential on the board means very little to us in terms of danger. We aren't particularly worried about giving him a free card here because if he has a pair he can't be on a flush draw, and if he doesn't have a pair then he's probably already got us beat. I think our game plan has changed to C. Let's just check and see what happens.

We check, our opponent checks behind us, and the river brings another ace. It's the ace of hearts. A beautiful thing has just happened. The board is now Ad 4c As 4d Ah. This should be just about enough to bring tears to your eyes. There is a full house on the board but your Kings give you the best possible full house, and all at once it seems very unlikely that your opponent has the case ace. There are only four in the deck after all. The best part about it is that your opponent in all likelihood just noticed that you don't have the ace either, he can't know that you have the second nut hand though, can he? What do you do?

  • A) Move all-in.

That's all. Just move all your chips in the middle. With a full house on the board, your opponent is going to have a very hard time getting away from this hand even if he's been bluffing all along with two seven offsuit. He's probably going to call no matter what, thinking that you're just trying to scare him off of a pot that you both should be splitting. If he's got any decent sized pair he'll have to call you. If he's very, very good he might be able to get away from a pair of 9's or under, but if he has T's -Q's all of his chips are yours. True, he might still have the ace, but if he did he'd have moved all-in anyway, and you would have had to pay him. The chances are so remote though that it's hardly worth considering. You just ran into a situation where the poker gods are either shining on you or martyring you, but overall, this couldn't be much better. Shove 'em in.

♣ Continued at: Hold'em Hands: Tournament Example #3

♣ Back to the index of Dead Money's guide to hold'em strategy.