Unfamiliar Territory with Bottom Pair and a Flush-Draw

The Streak is Over

Unfortunately for me, the 10-week winning streak was not meant to be. My streak came to an end in somewhat ugly fashion, this week being one of my biggest losing weeks of all time. I can’t complain at all though, variance has treated me so well in the last couple of months that I’d almost feel guilty. That said, it’s still disappointing when an upswing comes to an end. I think the pain of losing is actually a bit magnified in the sense that it kind of took me by surprise. It’s a weird feeling when you crush for a couple months and then have a week where you get absolutely slaughtered. I don’t want to dwell on it though. I mean, that’s poker in a nutshell. Swings are certainly to be expected and I should use this loss as motivation to better my game and keep on grinding.

2/5 at the Hollywood Casino in Columbus

I took a trip down to the Hollywood Casino in Columbus over the weekend which made for a nice change of pace. The main purpose of the trip was to visit some friends back at school (one of which is also a poker player/student). I figured I could kind of kill two birds with one stone and go down to Columbus for the weekend, visit friends Friday night and hit up the casino with my buddy on Saturday. To my surprise, the casino already had two 2/5 games running when we showed up around 3pm and actually had three going later in the night. The games played a bit smaller relative to the games in Cleveland, but they were also much softer. There were only 1-2 pros (neither of which impressed me much) and a handful of semi-competent recreational players that I observed at the two tables at which I played. The rest of the pool seemed super fishy generally and much less nitty than the kinds of players I see most commonly in the 2-5 games in Cleveland. It’s possible that this was just variance and the games aren’t normally that good, but I’m definitely going to be making some more trips down there in the next couple months to get a better idea of what an average 2-5 game in Columbus looks like.

Mandatory Straddle at 1/3

The hand I want to talk about this week occurred in a 1-3-6 game at the Jack. The game started at as a 1-3 game, but turned into a 1-3-6 after I suggested to the whole table that we throw on a mandatory straddle. I actually suggest this a good amount of the time but it rarely ends up amounting to anything. It happened to work out in this case though because there were a few 2-5 regs at the table with me who really wanted to play bigger and peer-pressured the nits who wanted to keep the game small. To all the readers out there, I highly recommend trying to get a mandatory straddle going, assuming you feel like you have an edge at the table. Recreational players rarely adjust correctly to the straddle and it can make the games you’re playing in far more profitable when you’re able to get the table to agree on it.

Semi-Bluffing a Reg

Game: 1-3-6 NL, 9 handed

Hero: (650) with Ah5h in LJ. Hero is viewed by Villain as one of the best players in the room (villain’s words, not mine). So far in this specific session, hero has been pretty snug mostly as due to card-deadness, but V still likely views hero as someone who is aggressive and competent.

Villain: (900ish) in BB. Villain is 25-30 year old Middle Eastern reg. Certainly a winner at most 1-3 games, but IMO has some big preflop leaks, mainly limping/ calling too wide a range. Postflop, he is at least somewhat competent. He is very capable of bluffing and is far more apt to do so vs. players who he knows are capable of bluffing him (i.e. hero). Villain is also capable of making big(ish) folds.

Preflop: (10) Folds to hero who opens to 20, HJ calls, button calls, SB calls, Villain calls, straddle calls.

Flop: (113) KhQh5s. Checks to hero who bets 75, HJ folds, button folds, SB folds, Villain calls, straddle folds.

Not too much to discuss here. I’ve got one of the best semi-bluffing candidates I can have so I elect to fire a roughly 2/3 pot C-bet. In retrospect, I actually think I like a slightly smaller sizing, like 55-65. I think we’re unlikely to get called by any worse made hands than Kx, and I don’t think any Kx are folding to just one bet. I think betting into five players is likely to look pretty strong and that using a smaller sizing will generate just as much fold equity as a larger one. Once I’m called, I think V’s range is a lot of Kx, possibly some Qx (likely with backdoor draws), most JT, some KQ (some would definitely check-raise) and a lot of FD’s.

Fire the Second Barrel?

Turn: (263) 8d. Villain checks, hero bets 175, Villain jams for a total of 555, hero calls.

The decision to bet here was somewhat close, as Villain puts us in a very tough spot when he chooses to check/jam, and we do have some showdown value when Villain just has a draw. I ultimately chose to bet because I felt it was going to take 3 barrels to get Villain off of his Kx hands and I didn’t think he would be check-jamming all that often.

In game, I thought I was in a really tough/close spot once Villain announced he was all-in. What ultimately led me to calling was that I felt his value-range was actually pretty thin here. He can have some KQ, but of those I’d guess at least half of those check-raise the flop, so we’ll give him 5 of the 9 combos of KQ. Villain can also likely have K8s and 55, but there are only two and one combos of those, respectively, giving villain a total of 8 combos of value hands. Villain’s bluffing range, however, seems to be much more combinatorically abundant. He can have JT, Jh9h,Th9h,Th8h,9h8h,9h7h,8h7h,9h6h,8h6h, and 7h6h, for a total of 21 bluffing combos (there are actually 25 combos of those hands, but any 8hxh hand is technically not a bluff since V would be winning with a pair of 8’s). Even if villain isn’t playing all of his JT this way, I do think he’s playing a lot of his FD’s in this way as the 8 on the turn gives many of them pairs or straight draws. With the pretty tremendous pot-odds I was getting (2.6:1) I felt I had the enough equity to make a crying call in that I felt I had over 28% equity.

Enough Equity to Call

After playing around with Equilab, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I had far more equity than I had originally thought and that this was actually slam-dunk call. Against a range of 5d5c, KsQs, KcQc, JhTh, JsTs, Jh9h, Th9h, Kd8d, Ks8s, Th8h, 9h8h, 9h7h, 8h7h, 9h6h, 8h6h, 7h6h, KsQd, KcQd, KcQs, JdTh, JdTs, JdTc, JhTs, JhTc, JsTc, we have 53.4% equity. Even if we take out all 8 combos of JT, we still have 43% equity.


The river brought an offsuit 6, and Villain said something like, “Nice call, I’ve got nothing.” I never fast-roll (unless it’s vs a recreational player who I really want to stay at the table) so I stared back at him waiting for him to either reveal his hand or muck. He sheepishly rolled over 9h6h and burst out laughing when I mucked my hand, which stung a bit. I’m pretty happy with how I played the hand and am even happier that I had far more equity than needed for this call to be profitable. At the time of the hand I felt it was quite close and could have even been a mistake. Reviewing these types of spots with equity calculators is definitely something I’d recommend to those looking to improve their game. Anyways, that’s all I’ve got for now. Until next week, peace and love! Thanks for reading and be sure to leave comments and questions below.