Walking Sticks

The simple truth about playing live Poker is that most of the time you are sitting and folding hands. Many great ideas are born, however, when a group of adults (if we can call Poker players adults) are forced to sit with each other for an extended period of time. I’m unsure about who the original players were that came up with nicknames for starting hands, but I’m positive that it was during the long periods of downtime that come with the game. Here are the most popular:

  • 2-2: Ducks
  • 5-5: Speed Limit
  • 7-7: Walking Sticks
  • 8-8: Snowmen
  • Q-Q: Ladies
  • K-K: Cowboys
  • A-A: American Airlines or Pocket Rockets
  • 10-2: The Brunson
  • 9-5: Dolly Parton
  • J-5: Jackson Five
  • 7-9: Ayatollah Khonmeini
  • A-K: Big Slick

Today we’ll take a look at how The Poker Model plays Walking Sticks in position with an overcard showing on the board. We’ll pull concepts from previous articles and put it all together here. Be sure to measure how you would play against how we are suggesting.

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Like Steve Nash at the foul line, we’ll go through our pre-Flop routine and assess the table looking inward first. I’m holding 7h-7s with blinds and antes at $70/$350/$700. I have 59 big blinds (41,516/700 = 59) which puts me in the large stack segment according to The Poker Model. If any of the +20 big blind stacks open raise, then I will call behind with 7h-7s. I’d also make this call behind with pocket pairs 2-2 through Q-Q, K-J and K-Q, or A-10, A-J, or A-Q. With bigger hands, like K-K, A-A, or A-K, I’d 3-bet (reraise) in an effort to get all-in pre-Flop. I’d fold all other hands because I’d be out of position and even more vulnerable to a continuation bet on the Flop than our list of call behind hands. The stacks that are above 20 big blinds that have position on me are nots (40 bbs), gr8_1 (120 bbs), and kyjmbxz (34 bbs).

Because 7h-7s mathematically beats a wide range of starting hands, we must assess the short stacks at the table as well. If giimeyochipz (7 bbs) moves all-in and the action folds to us, then we’d make the all-in call. His range could be any ace, any pocket pair, or K-10+. 7h-7s is dominating a large percentage of these hands which is why we would call. We wouldn’t want to raise here and isolate the all-in because we have a large enough stack to fold if the Big Blind happens to pick up a hand and move all-in. Before assessing players to our left, let’s see how the action moves around the table.

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The action folds around to us and we make a min-raise because 7h-7s is a qualifying hand in this scenario. With over 20 big blinds and no players to your right in the hand, open raise with any two cards over 7, any ace, any pocket pair, K-J+, and suited connectors (8s-7s) or one-offs (9s-7s).

We have two short stacks to our left and one medium stack on the Button. If Skysthelimit86 (11 bbs) moves all-in from the Button, then we’ll call. Table position plays a huge role in this call. An all-in from under the gun of 11 bbs would be a fold for 7h-7s because his range would be A-10+ or 8-8+. But from the Button against a Cutoff raise (where we are raising from) his range will widen to any pocket pair, any ace, K-10+.

We’ll make a tight fold if moneyhunting (15 bbs) moves all-in against our min-raise. His range will be any pocket pair, K-J+, or A-9+. We are dominating some of the hands that he’d go all-in with, but we are also dominated by many. It’s very close, but The Poker Model suggests a fold here.

If slywon3 (31 bbs) 3-bets (reraises) us, then we’ll fold as well. 7h-7s is not strong enough to move-all in over the top and also vulnerable to a continuation bet on the Flop if we just call the 3-bet (reraise).

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Both of the short stacks to my left fold and the Big Blind calls. The Flop comes Qs-5s-5d and my heads up opponent checks to me. Just like we did pre-Flop, we must assess the hand on the Flop, starting inward. I have Middle Pair which means there is one overcard to my pair on the board (the Qs). According to The Poker Model, my hand falls in the mediocre segment.

If I make a continuation bet and my opponent folds, then I win. This is fine, but I didn’t need to have Middle Pair to win in this way. For example, I could have raised with any of the qualifying hands (like A-2, J-10, K-J, ect.) pre-Flop and made a continuation bet here for the win.

If I make a continuation bet and my opponent calls, then I must start putting him on a range of hands. With this Flop, most players will call with a Flush Draw (any 2 spades), any Q or pocket pairs 2-2 through 10-10. I’ve left out J-J, Q-Q, K-K, and A-A because these hands will typically 3-bet (reraise) pre-Flop. This is not terrible for us, but leaves us vulnerable if a bad Turn card comes like the Ks, filling the Flush Draw and putting another overcard on the board.

Now for the scenario that The Poker Model works hard to avoid, when my opponent raises. Players will raise here with Flush Draws (some call, some raise), trips (having the third 5), or bluffs. It is nearly impossible to do anything except fold middle pair if we get raised. It’s very easy to fold to a raise if we’ve completely missed the Flop (like with A-2, J-10, K-J, ect.), but much harder to believe our opponents when we have middle pair, especially because our hand has a much greater chance of winning. This is why The Poker Model stresses to check in this mediocre hand situation.

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I check behind, the Turn is the 5c, and my opponent checks to me. This is a good card for us because the Flush Draw didn’t hit, no overcard came (like an 8,9, 10, J, K, or A), and the chance of having the 5 is even less likely now. Also, our opponent has made no attempt to bet at this Pot here. I have two options at this point, both are fine according to The Poker Model.

I can check, allowing the River card to come. While this leaves us in a vulnerable position on the River, we will call any bet based on size. For example, even if the Ks comes on the River, we will call if our opponent’s bet is pot size or less. Calling this bet will not put us under the 20 bb threshold and we’ll find out if our hand is best. If our hand improves on the River (if an unlikely 7 comes), then we will raise any bets to get all-in here as we’ve hit a monster on the River.

I can also make a value bet that works like a Blocker Bet to the River. Remember that a Turn Blocker Bet is meant to slow down our opponent’s action and get to the River, where we can check and learn if our hand is best. If my bet is folded to, then I’ll still win the Pot. This is fine and much different from making this bet and winning on the Flop because much of the big Pot opportunity has shrunk and players are more likely to give up here. For this reason, it is much more likely that my bet will not get raised. There is just less to bluff at or hope for on the Turn than on the Flop. In the event that we do get raised, then we’ll fold and chalk it up to a tricky hand.

Lastly and best is when my opponent calls this bet. Because he didn’t bet out on the Turn, it’s more likely that our middle pair is best now. Most players will bet in this spot with Flush Draws and Top pair. So because he checked twice, it’s likely that we are getting called by a hand that we are beating (like 6-6,4-4,3-3,2-2, or ace high). Additionally, after the call I’ll most likely get checked to on the River unless he made a big hand from the River card. For these reasons I bet.

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I make a half pot bet, my opponent calls and the River is the 4s. This is not a bad card for me because it is under 7.  Even though the Flush Draw hit, my Full House will beat it. Because I showed strength by making a Turn bet, it’s more likely that my opponent will check to me. If this happens, then I will check behind and find out if I’ve won the hand.

If my opponent bets then it will appear to be a hand that beats 7-7 and the size of the bet will determine if I call. Remember that players will do anything with any two cards.

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My opponent checks and I check behind. I win the Pot with 7h-7s and don’t get the opportunity to see what he had. My guess is that he had a pair lower than 7 or ace high. This is because he didn’t show any signs of aggression throughout the hand, but made a call on the Turn implying that he had something.

In today’s hand we walked through our process of assessing the table and found ourselves with 7h-7s. When the action folded to us we made a standard min-raise and were called by the Big Blind. After flopping a mediocre hand and a check from our opponent, we chose to see a free Turn card to avoid getting raised on the Flop. After another check on the Turn from our opponent, we decided to look for value while blocking a large bet on the River. After two additional checks on the River, we came out victorious.

Whether it’s Walking Sticks, Snowmen, Ducks, or Ladies be sure to know what you really have. If you’re working through The Poker Model system, then you can simply put hands into our three categories of nothing, mediocre, and monster in a post-Flop situation. Know your plan, know your stack, know the Pot, and most importantly, know your nicknames!

Brett

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