Hands can switch fast. One minute you are smooth sailing and the next you have a tough decision to make. In this article, I’ll take you through a hand that changes for the worst on the River. Pay close attention to how the value of my hand changes as the hand moves through each phase.
I’m on the button holding 2h-2d with 100 big blinds in my stack and blinds are $100/$200. 2-2 is a call behind hand according to The Poker Model. This means that with a medium (21-50 big blinds) or large (over 50 big blinds) stack I should call with one previous raise, no matter the number of calls behind that raise before my turn. Other call behind hands are 3-3, 4-4, 5-5, 6-6, 7-7, 8-8, 9-9, 10-10, J-J, Q-Q, K-J, K-Q, A-10, A-J, A-Q.
Under The Gun (UTG) raises to $400 and The Cutoff (TC) calls $400. Because there is one previous raise and I am holding a call behind hand, I call $400 from The Button (TB). Both The Small Blind (TSB) and The Big Blind (TBB) fold on my left and the hand will move to Phase #2 – Pre-Flop with three players and $1,500 in the pot.
The Flop comes 2s-7d-Ac and I’ve made Three of a Kind (aka a Set), a good hand according to The Poker Model. Remember that a good hand is Two Pair or better, generally speaking depending on the stack sizes of the players involved. Other good hands on this flop are 7-7, A-A, A-7, A-2, and 7-2. With good hands I’m confident that I have the best hand and am looking to get all of my money into the pot. I am not worried about the potential of being beat by another good hand because it is highly unlikely and opponents may be overplaying their hand or bluffing if showing strength.
Under The Gun (UTG) bets $500 and The Cutoff (TC) calls $500. I raise with my good hand to $1,700 hoping to induce additional action at this stage, where I can be in a dominating position with little risk. I would raise three times the amount with only one bet in front, but with a bet and a call I can make it a bit larger and still have the same effect.
Both of my opponents call the raise, which was successful in that it built the pot. There is now $6,600 in the pot as the hand moves to the Turn.
The Turn is the seven of spades. Under The Gun (UTG) checks followed by a check from The Cutoff (TC). When the seven hit, my hand improved from Three of a Kind to a Full House, Twos Full of Sevens which is still a good hand. Just like on the Flop, I want to bet with a good hand in hopes of getting all in. I make a bet of $5,000 which is a large bet according to The Poker Model because it is larger than ⅔ the pot. Medium bets are ⅓-⅔ of the pot and small bets are less than ⅓ pot.
Both players call and the pot is now $21,600. I still am not worried that I’m behind because the only hands that beat me are 7-2, A-7, 7-7, and A-A. I can rule out 7-2 because it’s unlikely that an opponent is playing it; it’s the worst starting hand in the game. 7-7 is even more unlikely now because there are only two other sevens left in the deck. While A-A and A-7 are possible, there are far more hands that my Full House dominates and I cannot be held up on a few, extremely unlikely possibilities. If I lose to those hands, so be it.
And then the killer card hits, the 7 of clubs. When the seven shows on the board, my hand shrinks to a measly low pair on the board. While my hand did improve to a better full house, now an opponent that has an ace or pair higher than two can play the three sevens on the board and beat me.
What’s worse is the Under The Gun (UTG) moves all-in and The Cutoff (TC) calls. I’m almost certain that I do not have the best hand now and I fold.
Under The Gun (UTG) shows 3s-4s and The Cutoff (TC) shows Ad-8d. It’s clear that I’ve made a good fold and would have won a large pot had it not been for the unlikely seven on the River. Under The Gun missed his draws throughout the hand and bluffed all-in on the River. The Cutoff made Top Pair on the flop and improved to a winning Full House on the River.
Remember that players are capable of making any plays with any two cards. The Poker Model stresses to control the pot and bet big when you have it. Today those principles were put in action and an unlikely River card killed us.