Play a Hand With Me

I’m experimenting with Twitter’s survey feature to solicit feedback on a few poker hands. Since not every loyal blog follower uses Twitter, here are the results of one recent thread.

At a loose, private $1/2 no limit game, I was on the button with K8 and three players limped in front of me.


I went with a call. If I raise, I’m likely to get multiple callers, unless I make the raise very large. That might force everyone to fold and win a few dollars, but also would be wasting my post-flop positional advantage. Calling keeps my stack-to-pot ratio high, my investment (both financially and emotionally) in the pot low, and my range wide. If I whiff the flop – the most likely scenario – I won’t feel any pressure to try to steal the pot.

… and what a flop! J96 gives me the 2nd nut flush. And there is betting in front of me. Inside my head, I’m doing a happy dance.

Calvin and Hobbes happy dance

This time the votes came 23% in favor of calling, and 38% each for raising smallish and raising bigger. I called, wanting to find out if the blinds might want to come along or possibly check-raise. Another heart (7 outs) would give a naked A a higher flush, and a paired board (9 outs) could give someone a full house, contingencies I would have dealt with if they happened. If I sprung the trap too quickly I might lose all my customers.

The turn was beautiful… A♣. This will make it harder for anyone holding A to fold, especially if it improves him to two pair. There is more betting in front of me. Another poll.

Sorry my last tweet says the prior results were 20/40/40… the poll hadn’t closed yet and a couple lates votes came in. My bad.

This time I raised to $65, which got the most votes. At the time, I thought this would be enough to put the original bettor all-in. For purposes of this blog, I’ll call him “Derrell.” He actually had $6 more and pushed all his chips into the middle. Knowing that I would not have the option of re-raising, the hijack seat called. For purposes of this blog, I’ll call him “Dave.” At this point, I expected one of them to have the A, and the other to have two pair, a set, or a weaker flush. I considered it more likely that Derrell had the A, as his small turn bet was more of a blocker than a value bet.

Dave, on the other hand, had something that he liked too much to fold but not enough to raise. If he had any flush, I thought he have raised already, either a large raise with a non-nut flush to make it expensive for the A or any sets to draw, or a more modest raise to build the pot if he had the nut flush. That made two pair or a set as more likely holdings for Dave.

Now there was $255 in the main pot and no side pot. The river was the 8, as clean a card as I could ask for. Dave checked and I need to run one final Twitter poll.

The votes split 50/50. If my read was correct and Dave had two pair or a set, I didn’t think he would commit his entire stack. Since there was no side pot, I had no incentive to bluff unless somehow I had a hand that beat Derrell but not Dave, and Dave’s was weak enough that I could push him out. Highly unlikely. This means I should make a smaller bet and hope for one final crying call.

I bet $100, approximately 40% of the main pot. Dave does call and my hand is good. Neither Derrell nor Dave show their hands. Another happy dance.

In hands like this, we have a choice of trying to get full stacks in, which risks losing our customer(s) too soon, or settling for a “reasonably large” pot. At each decision, a larger bet might lead to a much larger final pot, or it might simply end the hand right then and there. In a limped pot with effective stacks of 175 BBs, I opted for the latter approach and ended up very happy with the outcome.


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