Min-Raise Madness

In anticipation of next month’s NCAA basketball March Madness, I bring you this edition of Min-Raise Madness.

Min-Raise, of course, is shorthand for raising the minimum possible amount in a no limit poker game.  Last night, the villain making the min-raise is a semi-regular player who, for purposes of this blog, I’ll call “Dell.”  Dell was in the cutoff seat and raised to two big blinds after several players had called the big blind, a min-raise.  I’m in the small blind position with Qh 2h and also call.  Not that I like this hand, but I’m getting a good price to call.  I can assume that no one will fold to such a small raise and at least five or six players will see the flop.  Sure enough, that’s what happened.

The flop was Kh Th 6h.  Schwing!  Yahtzee!  Queue heavenly music.  Queue cash register cha-ching.  Queue ba-da-bing, ba-da-boom GIF.  Queue Mission Accomplished banner.  Pop the champagne cork.  Strike up the band.  Send some flowers to Mrs.  Make notes for next blog entry.  This is why we play…

I have the 2nd nut flush, first to act, in a multi-way pot.  With so many players, I have to check here for deception, and see who wants to drive the action.  Two more players check, then someone bets 10 BBs.  For purposes of this blog, I’ll call him “Josh.”  I think there were six players, so 12 BBs in the pot.  His bet most likely indicates a strong hand that is protecting against a fourth heart showing up.  He could have a flush already (including an A-high flush the destroys me), or a set or two pair.  He is more likely to check any one-pair hand.  Since he limp/called pre-flop, we can eliminate a few hands from his range that would have raised pre-flop instead:  KK, TT, AA, AK.  But KT makes sense, 66 makes sense, suited connectors or one-gappers like Jh9h, 9h8h, 8h7h, 9h7h, etc. all make sense.

As I’m writing this, it occurs to me that there are fewer non-flush value hands in his range that I thought at the time.  There are nine combinations of KT, of which only three are suited and I’m not sure he limps in with KTo.  There are three combinations of 66.  Josh doesn’t limp in with K6 or T6, and raises with KK and TT.   There are six combinations of AhXh (A7-A9, A3-A5) that are ahead of me (I’m assuming he raises with AhJh, and the Kh, Qh, Th, 6h, and 2h are either on the board or in my hand), plus about 8-10 weaker flush combinations that he might limp in with.  There aren’t many combinations with Ah and an unsuited card that he would limp with… maybe AhJx or AhTx, but that’s not his style.

Dell calls.

I ponder check-raising here, but decide to call and see if anyone else wants to come along.  One more player also calls; for purposes of this blog, I’ll call him “Jesus.”

Turn (52 BBs):  9c.  This is a great card for me.  If anyone was calling with QJ (perhaps with Jh, although not Qh as I have it), they just made a straight.  I check again, hoping Josh likes his hand enough to continue firing.  Jesus also checks.

Josh counts out a much larger bet of 35 BBs.  Dell calls again.

Now I have to be seriously concerned that at least one of these players has a hand that can improve on the river to a full house, or has the Ah that can improve to a higher flush.  Any heart other than the ace (7 cards) or any cards that pairs one of the board cards (11 cards) could be problematic.  Plus, the pot is pretty large at this point, with 122 BBs.

I have over 150 BBs and cover the stacks of the other players, and push my entire stack forward.  If y’all are going to draw, you’re going to have to pay the maximum price for the privilege.

Jesus, nursing a short stack that is less than the 35 BBs of Josh’s bet, calls.

Josh looks like he’s going to shit his pants.  Finally, he folds.

Dell also calls for approximately 80 BBs, and turns over AhAs.

The river was another king, and after I showed my flush, no one stepped up to claim a full house.  Josh hinted that he folded a smaller flush, while Jesus just slowly shook his head while I scooped in a pot of more than 300 big blinds.  In any no limit game, that’s a big pot.

I look again at Dell’s pocket aces and think back to the pre-flop betting.  He min-raised.  A more normal raise, particularly at this rather loose game, would be 7-9 BBs.  For that much, I would definitely fold Q2 suited, 100% of the time.

Madness!

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