Monday, July 23, 2007

Nut straight versus possible flush

Lunch game. .25/.25 $25 buy in. I limp in with 3h4h in middle position. Dave raises to 4(-ish?) from the SB. Maybe three others see the flop with me. Comes 25x two diamonds. I have an open ender and it checks all around. Turn is Ad which gives me the nut straight but puts a possible flush out there. Dave leads out for 20, folds to me and I call. Folds around and it's heads up. Rive is a glorious blank. At this point, I'm fairly certain that Dave does not have a flush. In retrospect, him checking the flop with two diamonds should have been the first hint that he did not flop a flush draw. The more that he waits after the river card is revealed, the more I feel like he does not have a flush. My read is that there is no way I'm beat here. Having the nut non-flush hand helps because if I had two pair, I'd have to consider a higher two pair or a set being out against me but with the strength of my hand, I knew I just had to contend with the flush or no-flush dilemma. I am telling myself that I will call whatever bet Dave puts out there. After some more camera time, Dave pushes all in for about 4 stacks. I actually make a reactive quick call. Also in retrospect, pushing all in is a "go away" bet and not a value bet. Dave shows a black Ace and Kd for the nut flush draw and top/top.

So it occurs to me later that I could have raised the turn. I had an inkling that Dave did not have the flush at that point but I certainly can give him credit for a diamond draw. I hadn't noticed him checking his hole cards at any point in the hand though there were many players to the flop and turn. I also hadn't solidified my read of him not having a flush at that point of the hand either.

So to tear this hand apart, let's assume that I had the same certain read that Dave did not have the flush. Is it a valid "right" play to let a blank peel off on the river instead of popping the turn? Previously on the blog we've discussed pushing all-in with a set against a possible flush draw in order to snap off the action even though more money could possibly have been made by pricing out a flush draw and letting a blank fall. Taking the pot down early was an attempt to minimize risk of a redraw at the expense of making the maximum on the hand. If you are fairly sure that your opponent will bet a flush draw aggressively, is it OK, to flat call the turn in the hand described above to keep the pot small and cut down on stack swinginess? I know, you are supposed to get your money when you are ahead and in the long run you will be ahead but if you raise the turn and you open the door for someone to push on the turn as top-top/nut flush draw may very well do. Is that controlling pot size or just good ol' weak/tight?


jtrey333 said...

In this case, IMO, it's weak/tight 100%. If your read truly was "not a flush", this is the time to get your money in good and hope that you stay good.

This is an 80%/20% spot (according to, pretty much as good as it gets when someone is willing to commit their chips. If you push all in, you're going to get *some* fold equity here, which means, you could take a decent pot down here and win the pot with 100% certainty, OR you're going to get called while you're 80/20 ahead. To me, that is most certainly a win-win situation.

Yes, if you're going to play the Martin brand of poker, there is no doubt that there are times you want to keep the pot small. But to me, the most effective way of playing the style is that you keep uncertain pots small, and play big pots when you have big hands, and in this situation, if your read is "not a flush", the nut straight qualifies as a big hand.

Marshall said...

Agree with Jeh here. Remember Martin, when you get to the turn and you have what you have, that is a key point in the hand. In this case, you MIGHT get some more action on the river because he has TPTK, but against any other type of draw, like a lone diamond, he is not paying you off on the river unless he is beating you. You are letting him decide his own price by just calling.

One other thing though is that you are possibly taking your reading abilities too specifically. What I mean is, there are different types of reads. Sometimes you piece it all together to tell a story, sometimes its just a feeling. But one thing that I think you need to start doing is putting people on ranges of hands, not on a specific hand. I think you do this sometimes already, but you could be more consistent at it. You should include all of the reasonable possibilities, to help narrow down your options. If you came to the conclusion that he didn't have a flush already, then why wouldn't you raise the turn? You said you hadn't quite figured it out yet, so maybe you just call to keep things manageable when you don't have a strong read. A lot of this depends on stack size of course. If you both had a ton of chips, you could put in a raise on the turn to find out where you were. But if not, you don't want to commit yourself if you aren't sure where you are. This was a tough spot on the turn, and if you didn't feel that comfortable with your read at the time, I don't mind the flat call. What were the stack sizes at that time?

jsola said...

I'm 100% certain you should have raised the turn, solely because you were up against Dave.

Dave's preflop raising range has gotten really tight lately, I'd expect his range to be something like ATo+,TT+. When he doesn't bet the flop you can be certain he doesn't have an overpair. He'd probably bet a flush draw too so you can slightly discount this.

When he wakes up on the turn he's got an ace here like, every time. And since the A completed the flush, he can't have A♦X♦. You could be up against AK with a K♦, which he'll certainly felt with, so just get it all in here.

Dave's shown that he's completely willing to stack off with TPTK, so IMO this is the perfect place to build a big pot.

Generally I'm looking to keep the pot small if I have a mediocre, bluff-catching sort of hand. You turned a straight with a card that likely hit your opponent, and in the long run here you'll make more money than you lose to the occasional flush.

Like Marsh said, try to put him on a range and act accordingly, even if there's some portion of that range that has you crushed. In the long run you'll make more than you lose.

There's some great reading on this in 'No Limit Hold'em Theory and Practice' by Sklansky/Miller. I'll bring it in sometime if you wanna read through it.