Fancy Play Syndrome
This hand took place last night at a home cash game, blinds of $1/$1. Two players limped in, and the button (for purposes of this post, I’ll call him “Jeff”) also limped. I am the SB with Qs7s, and check, as does the BB (“Russ”). No reason to get excited about Queen-Seven suited, out of position.
In the immediately preceding hand, both Russ and Jeff were involved. At the river, the pot was rather large and the board was something like 822-5-2, and Russ made a large river bet. I recall that Jeff had bet $20 on the turn and Russ raised to $50. He also muttered something to the effect of “I’m good here unless he has the remaining deuce.” After Jeff folded, Russ showed a naked bluff with King high.
I have to consider this in the hand we are now playing as both Jeff and Russ are involved.
The flop hits the board Q-T-7 rainbow (i.e., all different suits), giving me two pair. This is a reason to get excited about my hand, there are straight draw possibilities, multiple villains might have a Q or T, so a value bet is called for. I bet $4 into a pot of $5. Russ calls, the other villains both fold, then Jeff raises to $15 from the button.
My antenna goes up. The most common scenario with a flop raise is 2-pair or better. The next most common scenarios are an over pair and top pair with a good kicker. I have 2-pair with the top and bottom ends. So what does Jeff have? Pre-flop, he limped in after two other limpers.
Let’s consider the possibilities, in three broad groups:
FIRST – Two-pair plus. There are 3 ways he could have two pair… QT – which has me crushed, Q7 – same as mine, or T7 – and I would have him crushed. Better than 2-pair means a set, as it is not yet possible for anyone to have a straight, flush or full house. A set requires Jeff to have QQ, TT or 77. The first two of these possibilities I can discount heavily, as he would raise pre-flop with QQ or TT. Possibly also with 77, possibly not. I have blockers to QQ and 77, so there is only one combination of each remaining in the deck. I have seen Jeff bet flopped sets very aggressively before in other games, so his raise is consistent with how I’ve seen him play a set.
SECOND – Over pair or top pair with good kicker. An over pair would be AA or KK. As with QQ and TT, he would raise with either of these pre-flop. Eliminate from his likely range. Top pair would be Qx, with a strong kicker like AQ, KQ or QJ. I think Jeff would have raised pre-flop with AQ or KQ, so I’m discounting these as well, although not entirely removing them from his range.
THIRD – Semi-bluff / draws. Also there are draw possibilities with KJ, J9 or 98 for Open-Ended Straight Draws (“OESDs”), either of which he might be playing more aggressively than normal after folding and being shown Russ’ bluff on the preceding hand. Less likely would be gutshot straight draws, with hands like AK (would have raised pre-flop), AJ, K9, and J8.
The last consideration is stack size… he has about $55 behind, and I have him covered.
Let’s put everything that makes sense into a range and see how we fare.
Jeff’s range: QT, Q7, T7, 77, AQ, KQ, QJ, KJ, J9, 98, AJ, K9, J8
My hand: Qs 7s.
My equity v. range: 71.2%. Quite good.
Removing the gutshot straight draws (AJ, K9, J8) and my equity drops to 65.9%. Still quite good.
Now that we know the correct answer is to call, back to the actual hand as played.
I called Jeff’s raise, and Russ also called. Maybe I should give some extra thought to Russ’ range. Now there is $50 in the pot.
Turn ($50): I don’t recall the exact card, other than it was a low blank – not completing any OESDs or gutshots, not pairing the board, not turning any top pair hands into 2-pair.
I check, Russ checks and Jeff goes all-in for his remaining $55. Then Russ folds out of turn, before I have acted. This is comforting in that now I don’t have to worry about Russ laying back with the real monster, nor do I have to go through the entire range analysis for Russ here in my blog post. Whew!
This is not the first time I’ve played with Jeff. I’ve seen him overplay medium strength hands, especially with a shorter stack. I’ve seen him shove a short stack with less than the nuts. I have the impression he wants to end this hand right now. If he wanted a call, he would bet less. (Or so I hope.)
I call, and he turns over AA, a hand that I previously ruled out because he did NOT raise pre-flop. The river doesn’t help him and I scoop in the pot.
Apparently he was hoping to trap Russ by limping on the button and hoping Russ continued his aggression from the previous hand by raising from the big blind.
The fancy play cost Jeff his entire stack, in a situation where the straightforward play – raising on the button with pocket aces – may have netted him only a small win, but a win nevertheless.