Is Bottom Set No Good?

My poker session was going just fine, at a very ordinary private $1/2 no limit Hold’em game.

With 33 in early position, I raised to $8. This was a small mistake, as my standard opening size is $10 at these games. My downsizing might be correctly read as a blocker bet, designed to get a fairly cheap flop.

The player two seats to my left re-raises to $22. For purposes of this blog, I’ll call him “Mark.” I’m pretty sure this is the first time I’ve played with Mark, and so far he hasn’t done anything remarkable that would categorize him as a nit or maniac or any other extreme.

Everyone else folds. With effective stacks slightly over $250, I’ll go set mining here. I call and the flop comes Q73 rainbow. Hello first set of the night… I like it!

I check to the raiser and Mark bets $30. While I can make the case for raising right now, I think calling is a better option. If Mark has AA or KK, he’ll bet again on most turn cards and might feel pot-committed when I check-raise then. On the other hand, if he is C-betting with a hand like AK or JJ, he’ll probably fold to a check-raise now but I might be able to get some value later.

The turn card is a K. Now the board reads Q73-K. His pre-flop 3-bet narrows his starting range considerably, and now I have to consider the possibility of him having QQ or KK. Let’s suppose his 3-bet range is JJ+, AQs+, AKo. After eliminating the K and Q on the board, he would have 33 combinations remaining, of which 6 are sets higher than mine. I check again, somewhat unsure whether I’ll check-raise or just call another bet, and somewhat to my surprise Mark also checks.

The river is a T, making it Q73-K-T. There are no possible flushes. I would guess he most likely checked back on the turn with a hand like AA/AK (fearing me having KQ and not wanting to bloat the pot too much with a one-pair hand), or AQs, or JJ. While AJ would make a straight on this board, I do not think Mark would 3-bet with AJ pre-flop, suited or not. I’m not going to worry about straights.

I lead out with a bet of $55, into a pot of approx. $105. Other than JJ, he’ll have a very hard time folding any of his bluff-catching range to that size bet and my bottom set is a fantastic “bluff-catcher catcher.”

After a long pause, Mark announces “raise!” and adds another $75 on top. Yikes! I didn’t see that coming. The only hand that makes any sense to me here is KK, if he turned top set and for some reason decided he better slow down or else he might lose his customer. Unless, that is, TT is also part of his pre-flop 3-betting range.

Go back to the pre-flop action, that’s where the clues are the strongest. He doesn’t have AJ. He doesn’t have KQ or any other combo that has made 2-pair on this board. But he just raised $75 into a pot of $215 including the calling portion of his bet. Such a small raise relative to the pot is begging for a call. Mark likes his hand… a lot. If he has QQ and I called his C-bet, he probably keeps on betting on the turn. If he checked back the turn for pot control with AA or AK, he’s not raising on the river. Mark loves his hand, apparently more than I love mine. He’s betting for value, not bluff-catching. That leaves a weirdly played KK and a less-weirdly played TT, the latter if and only if he would 3-bet pre-flop with TT. Many players at these low stakes would just call with TT, but perhaps caught on and decided to punish my smallish initial raise.

Bottom set is no good. I have to conquer the Fear of Not Knowing. I have to fold. #TheyAlwaysHaveIt.


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