Set Me Straight
Here's a hand I posted on pokerpoker that spawned a lot of interesting discussion:

2/4 NL Holdem Cash Game (6 Handed)

LearsFool Raises $12.00 to $16.00 with A♣ A♠,
Villain Raises $16.00 to $32.00,
LearsFool Raises $16.00 to $48.00,
Villain Calls

Flop: 10♦ K♠ J♥
LearsFool Bets $80.00
Villain Calls

Turn: A♦
LearsFool Checks
Villain Went all-in for $496.40

After much deliberation, I concluded that my opponent MUST have the straight with QQ and, not having the odds to call, I folded.

Now, here's the interesting part, before folding I typed: "Wow... I'm folding a set of Aces". And my opponent actually SHOWED me QQ. Personally I think he's an idiot for doing that, I would have just responded with something like "lol ... good fold, I had Jacks".

So, what convinced me that he had Queens? I have no read on the guy and if I assume he is playing fairly straightforward I can put him on only a few hands pre-flop (even with my weak re-raise, I really should have made it 100$ to go). AA,KK,QQ,JJ, and AK. Obviously on the turn, I know he does not have AA so that leaves KK,QQ,JJ, and AK. I believe that with AK or JJ he HAS to raise on the flop to find out where he stands as he must be putting me on either AA,KK,QQ, or AK. I also think that half the time he leads out with his set of Kings to block the straight in case I have QQ and to make maximum if I have AA. The other half, he smooth calls looking for a rag turn and hoping I lead out again.

On the turn, he HAS to bet no matter what, unless he has the made straight in which case he might check. So, I checked to try and control the size of the pot and also to put the possibility in his mind that I may be trapping. I think I can get as much if not more information from a check here then from a bet, and I think I am getting that information as cheaply as possible. I know that this may stir a lot of controversy, but my thinking is this:

When I check there are only two scenarios I care about, either he has the straight or he doesn't:
  • If he checks behind on the turn he might have the straight but I can make a blocking bet on the river to find out and I just got myself a free card.
  • If he makes a small bet on the turn, he is probably looking for information in which case I can raise and he has to fold unless he has the Queen.
  • If he makes a standard bet on the turn, he has the straight.
  • If he goes all-in, in order for this to be a bluff/semi-bluff he has to be convinced that I don't have QQ, my check on the turn must leave him with doubt and I think most players would find this bluff too risky given the size of the pot.
So, in the end I feel I should have re-raised more preflop, but I am proud of myself for making the correct fold in a tough spot.

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