Think about it. If most of the time we are only able to put our opponent on a range of hands, then how can we expect to never get beat? For example, if I know my opponent will go all-in with any pocket pair, then how can I fold K-K? Any pocket pair means 2-2, 3-3, 4-4, 5-5, 6-6, 7-7, 8-8, 9-9, 10-10, J-J, Q-Q, K-K and A-A. Of the 13 previous hands, K-K is dominating 11 of them, tied with 1, and dominated by 1. After making the call, our opponent flipping over the one hand that beats us, A-A, is unlucky and just a plain old beat. A bad beat is when we call an all-in with K-K and our opponent flips over Q-Q, only to hit the Queen on the Flop, Turn, or River. This is a bad beat because when the money went in, we were an 80% favorite and still lost the hand. This is also called getting unlucky.
Bad and plain old beats can occur at any stage of the hand. Today’s hand illustrates the thinking behind a plain old beat situation.
I’m under the gun holding Ah-Jh with a large stack of 75 big blinds. Blinds and antes are $65/$325/$650. If you’ve been following the last few posts, notice how my stack has steadily increased and most others have declined; this is typically the case when executing The Poker Model fluently.
While Ah-Jh is a strong starting hand, the only all-in I’d call is the super short stack, giimeyochipz. When stacks of 14 big blinds, like Skysthelimit86 and moneyhunting, move all-in to an under the gun raise, it usually is in the range of A-J+, 99+. They recognize that under the gun raises are typically stronger, which forces them to move all-in stronger. For these 14 big blind all-ins, I’d call with 10-10+, A-Q+.
If any of the other players 3-bet, then I’ll make a tight fold because I’ll be out of position post-Flop and I do not want to get all-in pre-Flop.
I make a standard min-raise to $1,300. The Small Blind, a large stack of 115 big blinds, calls and the big blind folds (pardon the image). At this point I have good table position, expect both of us to miss the Flop, and will make a continuation bet after a standard Flop-check from him. I’m aware that $35,000 chips (50bbs) is my large to medium stack barrier and $13,000 (20bbs) is my medium to short stack barrier. It’s important to recognize these markers as a large stack gives the freedom to get “tricky” as described in other posts and a small stack serves as a barometer for tournament life. Only an unlucky hand should have us knocked out here.
The Flop comes 7h-Jc-9d and my opponent makes a half pot bet of $1,885. My reaction is to think that he could have a wide range of hands from draws, to monsters, to bluffs because we don’t have a whole bunch of information at this point. I have top pair with top kicker which means that the only hands that are beating me right now are 7-7, 9-9, J-J, 10-8, 9-7, J-7, J-9, Q-Q, K-K, A-A. We have no way of knowing exactly what our opponent has, but all of these hands are unlikely. Flopping a set with 7-7 or 9-9 is <11%, J-J is even lower because I have a Jack in my hand. Straights and two pair are also <11%. Not only are the chances of being dealt A-A, K-K, or Q-Q <1%, but our opponent would have 3-bet us pre-Flop.
Above are the statistical Poker reasons for making a call here. Folding is not an option because we are beating a wide range of his potential hands and raising will only complicate the hand by giving him another opportunity to raise back at us. On the stack awareness side, we can certainly afford to make this call because it is only a 3 big blind bet. We also can prepare to use a Turn Blocker Bet to slow our opponent down while remaining over 50 big blinds if necessary.
I make the call, the 7d comes on the Turn and the Small Blind checks to me. Time to recalculate what we thought to be true on the Flop. On the statistical side, everything is the same, except now 7-X made three of a kind. It’s far less likely that 7-7 is in play, but slightly more likely that three of a kind is. Both are still improbable.
Our opponent checking can mean a few things:
- I tried to steal the Pot on the Flop and was unsuccessful so I’m giving up
- I had a monster on the Flop and am now checking to disguise my hand in an effort to raise later
- I had something mediocre on the Flop, like One Pair or a Draw and am now hoping to get to the River cheaply
We are in a good spot at this point. If we bet here, we may get our large stacked opponent to fold, which is fine. We may also get a call out of him, building the Pot. While this is good if he decides to check to us on the River, there are now many more draw hands on the Turn that have the opportunity to improve. Those hands are 8-6, Q-10, K-Q, 5-6, K-10, Xd-Xd.
Because there is $7,540 in the Pot and we are both large stacked, checking is a good option here. I like this play because we are guaranteed to flip our cards over at the end. Even if a card comes that gives him the winning hand, we don’t expect him to make a bet that is bigger than the size of the Pot. I’m going to check, and as long as he doesn’t bet bigger than the Pot on the River, then I’ll call. Worse case scenario I’ll still have over 50 big blinds. While there is no specific rule here, consider this check as a way to manage the Pot with little risk.
I check, the 8d comes on the River, and my opponent bets $3,770. This looks like a bad River card. 10-X or Xd-Xd are now beating my Ah-Jh. The good news is we’ve managed the Pot very well against a large stacked opponent by not raising on the Flop or betting on the Turn. The bad River was somewhat meaningless to us. We already knew that we were going to call any River bet less than the Pot, regardless of what card came. There are no River cards that would have changed our plan, only the bet amount. This is a situation where we hope our opponent is bluffing or blocker betting, we’ll call and find out.
I call and my opponent flips over K-10 for the Straight. This is a plain old beat. No matter how we played the hand our opponent was going to call his way to a Straight on the River. I lost about 10 big blinds on the hand, but could have lost much more. This hand was played precisely how The Poker Model suggests. We controlled the Pot and were able to flip our cards on the River with a mediocre hand, removing vulnerability from the equation.
In today’s hand, we min-raised with strong pre-Flop cards. We received one call from a superstack, who bet out on our top paired Flop. We were able to make the call and check to the River only to have our opponent fill his Straight Draw.
Remember that there is a big difference between a bad beat and a plain old beat. Just because you are supposed to win statistically, it doesn’t mean that you will. Focus on getting your money in good and beat the beat up in the long run.