Here is an interesting hand from a $1/1 cash game last night.
I am the Big Blind, and look down at 9d 8d. My stack is $130. I’ve been playing for about 2 hours and nothing good has happened yet. Four players limp into the pot, and the SB completes. I check my option, so there are 6 players and $6 in the pot for the flop.
Flop ($6): 9s 8h 4c.
The SB (I’ll call him “Dell”) checks. I like my hand, having flopped top 2 pair. With this many players, I need to bet for value and to find out who likes his hand enough to continue.
The player to my immediate left (let’s call him “Jeff”) quickly calls. Hmmm… He is UTG and limped in pre-flop from this early position.
Another player (I’ll call him “John”) also calls, then “Jason” calls, and Dell also calls.
My $5 bet was 83% of the pot size (albeit still very small in absolute terms) and only scared away one player. This might turn into an action hand.
Turn ($31): 6d.
This card doesn’t hurt me, unless someone has exactly T7, 75 or 66. With this loose crowd of players anything is possible, so let’s see what happens.
Now Dell in the SM leads out with a bet of $11. He does this a lot, leading out into the raiser from a prior street, but it doesn’t necessarily mean great strength. I debate raising vs. calling and decide to call to help me get some more information. If my hand is indeed the best, I don’t want to run everybody off with a big raise here.
Then Jeff raises to $35. Huh? “Danger, Will Robinson! Danger, DANGER!” goes the alarm in my head. John calls $35, and Dell also calls the raise to $35. It’s back to me.
Here is where I need to think very carefully about what each Villain might have and how they would play it. Jeff is the biggest concern, so I’ll deal with him last.
Dell is fairly easy, once I think about it. I’ve played with him several other times, and he is loose and aggressive. He donk bets a lot of flops and turns where he has hit any part of the board – bottom pair, middle pair, weak kicker, as a way of (1) getting information, and (2) winning the dead money when no one else has anything. I can exploit this from time to time by raising big and representing a strong hand. If he does have a really big hand, he bets it aggressively rather than trying to trap. (For example we had a recent confrontation where he has AJ and I had QQ on a flop of AQJ. He led out, I raised, he 3-bet and also called when I shoved, playing his 2-pair (top + bottom) like it was the nuts and ultimately doubling me up.) Back to the present, however, he just calls Jeff’s raise but doesn’t re-raise. I conclude my top 2-pair is better than his hand. No need for me to slow down on account of Dell.
Next up is John. John is a very loose player who likes to see flops with virtually any two cards, and likes to chase draws, including weak flush draws, gut shots, etc. Hard to push him off of a pot as he is very sticky if he hits any part of it. He ends up making 2-pair or middling straights an awful lot, and this frustrates many of the other players. He called my $5 bet on the flop and then called Jeff’s $35 on the turn. He only has about $30 remaining behind. Surely he would re-raise all-in if he had a made straight or set. This looks like classic John chasing some kind of draw, perhaps with a pair + open-ended straight draw (97, 87, 76), pair plus gutshot straight draw (T9, T8, T6, 95, 85, 65) or something like J7 that was a gutshot on the flop and gained outs when the 6 hit. He also could have 2 pair like 98, 96, 86, 64. Since he didn’t shove it all-in on the turn, my top 2-pair dominates his range.
Lastly, what about Jeff? He’s the one who worries me the most here, based on his UTG limp, quick call on the flop and raise on the turn. Could he have 44? T7? These are the two hands that crush me and might follow this betting pattern (especially T7s). With 44 I think he might raise on the flop, although with so many players behind him, calling to keep everyone in the pot may be his best option despite the possible straight draws with 98 on this flop. T7 is certainly possible, and his stack is larger than mine. Ouch! Or he could have turned 2 pair (or have the same hand as me… suited 98, but only one combination remains), but I’m having trouble seeing which 2 pair would make sense to limp in from UTG other than 98s. Not that it has to make sense, and I do know Jeff can be very loose passive at times. He could also be overplaying a strong 1-pair hand (I’ve seen him limp with AA from early position trying to trap). Without doing all of the combinatorics at the table, it seems like I need to worry about 3 combinations of 44, plus 4 combinations of T7s. In either case, I’ll have 4 outs (9%) to catch up on the river. It seems like there is a greater number of combinations that I can beat, plus the pot size is now rather swollen. There is $147 in the pot, and it costs me $24 to call or $115 more to go all-in.
My last consideration here is whether Jeff could fold 44 if I go all-in, representing that I have the T7 and nut straight. Would he fold a small set? I doubt it, but maybe, just maybe…
I finally decide to throw caution to the wind and shove all-in. All three players (especially Dell and John) have a lot of draws in their ranges and I need to punish them if they are going to chase. And I might actually get paid.
Jeff folds. Whew! I feel better already.
John calls his remaining $30.
John shows J7o, for an open-ended straight draw, plus one (useless) over card. He has 8 outs, with the the large pot, he is getting the right odds to make this final call.
The river is a blank and I scoop up a large pot, which puts me “in the black” for the evening.