Wait Your Turn
I’m under the gun holding 9c-8c with $53,235 chips with blinds at $800/$1600. I convert $53,235 into my big blind count by dividing $53,235 by $1600 totalling about 33 big blinds. A medium sized stack according to The Poker Model is between 21-50 big blinds. Knowing that I have a medium stack allows me to formalize my range of playable hands. Because I am under the gun, there are no previous raises which means 9c-8c is playable. I’ll raise to $3200, a standard 2x raise, and come into the pot for these reasons.
I make the raise to $3200 and The Cutoff +1 calls, followed by a call from The Cutoff. The Button, Small, and Big Blinds all fold. Before the Flop comes, I consider the stack sizes of the opponents that have called. The first caller (from The Cutoff +1) has $32,175 or about 20 big blinds in his stack. This is a small stack according to The Poker Model, one in which we expect our opponent to move all-in or fold depending on the strength of his hand after the Flop. He is unlikely to make a small raise and then fold his hand afterwards because he’d have too few chips.
The caller from The Cutoff has $97,728 chips or about 61 big blinds which is a large stack according to The Poker Model. This opponent has much more flexibility to make a raise and then fold the hand afterwards. This means that he may be in with a weaker hand that has more potential on the Flop. Before assuming too much, I must see the Flop and determine if my hand is good, bad, or mediocre.
The Flop comes Kc-Qc-2h and the action is on me. I have flopped a Flush Draw, a mediocre hand according to The Poker Model. Mediocre hands have potential to improve, but at the moment do not instill confidence. With mediocre hands I will check and most likely call one bet to see the Turn card where I can improve my hand. In a situation where one of my opponents bets and is raised by the other before the action is back on me, then I will fold as the price to stay in has become too expensive. I’d need a good hand, like two pair or better to remain in the hand in this case.
I make the check and the player to my left checks. The last player to act makes a big bet of $9000. Big bets are ⅔ pot or greater and show strength. I must be careful with these bets unless I have a good hand because the pot will be large if I call, allowing my opponent to make another big bet on the Turn. As stated above, I expect to call one bet and see if I can improve on the Turn with my mediocre hand. Before calling, I must make sure that calling this bet will not put me under the 20 big blind threshold. In this case I’d be left with about 25 big blinds after the call.
I make the call for $9000, leaving myself over the 20 big blind threshold. The player to my left folds and there will be two of us going to the Turn. I’m hoping that a Club comes and my hand improves to a Flush, but will not be devastated if it does not because I’ve left myself enough chips to fold this hand an look for a better spot later. There is also a possibility that I can see a free River card if my opponent checks on the Turn.
Bingo! The 3 of clubs comes on the Turn and I have improved to a Flush. Now my hand falls into the good category and my goal is to get all-in. While there are a few higher flushes out there, I’m not concerned and feel confident that I have the best hand. Because my opponent made such a strong play on the Flop and has a big stack, he may make another bet on the Turn if I check. If I bet out, it’s possible that he will fold. While either play can be successful, I choose to check and disguise the strength of my hand, hoping that he tries to drive me out of the hand. My check will make my hand look weak and my opponent will be too deep into the pot to fold after he makes the second bet. This will increase my chances of doubling up. I check and he makes a big bet of $15000. I’m in a good spot to win a big pot here.
I move all-in and am called by my opponent. He flips over 10h-Ac and I will be an 85% favorite to win the Pot. It’s clear now that he was hoping to win the pot on his flop bet and left himself an inside straight draw if called (the jack). On the Turn his draw improved to an Ace High Flush draw (aka the nut flush draw). I kept the pot as small as possible by checking on the Flop and was rewarded. I’ve done all that I can do, now I must wait and see if the River secures my victory.
The River is a blank and I win a large pot, all while limiting my risk in the hand. My opponent played the hand very aggressively and he had potential to win if I did not make my Flush on the Turn. I would have made the same flop bet that he did, hoping to make everyone fold. But when I pick up a flush draw on the Turn I would have checked, hoping to make my flush on the River cheaply. Instead he chose to bet and had to pay a big price to see the River. He paid that price but came up short and I won the pot, all by waiting my turn.