Good fold?

Good fold?

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Dear Dr Tom,

It’s the early stages of a two table sit-n-go, with blinds at 15-30. I have a stack of 2,295 from a starting stack of 1,500. I’m dealt aces in the small blind. A middle position player raises to 120, the button calls. Nice, I think, and raise to 630. Both players call. The flop is 6d7cJs. Very nice for aces, I think. First to act, and with two players behind me who may have under-pairs to my aces, I check.

The opening raiser now bets a milky looking 150 and the button calls. I make it 630. The opening raiser calls and the button calls all-in. The turn is 6c. Now, either I am massively ahead here or massively behind to a boat, in which case, I think, I am simply unlucky, and so what – it’s only a sit-n-go, after all. I’m reasonably confident I’m ahead, though – I actually think the opening raiser might have made an extremely loose call with A-J or Q-J. It’s quite possible since he’s a sloppy, stupid player.

Happy to keep the pot small, I check, with the attention of calling any bet from the opening raiser, but he also checks. The turn is a bad card, the Jd. I check and the villain moves in with his remaining 1,610. I am getting almost 4.5:1 to call with my remaining 1,000 or so, but I agonise and fold. Tell me I made the correct decision. Is there any argument for calling?




Dear Col,

The check on the turn, followed by a bet on the river is certainly sending you nasty signals. After all, you have shown great strength throughout. He's managed to get to the river unexpectedly cheaply, so why is he now betting it up? Your basic poker theory says that a bet on the river means that either (a) the bettor has a strong winning hand and thinks you have a strong losing hand (bet for value) or (b) the bettor has a weak losing hand and thinks you have a weak winning hand (bluff). These are the only two permissible combinations. Well, you have certainly shown plenty of strength, so it looks like he must think he’s stronger.

There is a possibility he has K-K and is gambling that you have Q-Q- and will call him, but then, equally, he might have 7-7, so you might as well discount both of these.

The reason you have to fold here is that it’s very difficult to see what hand he could have that isn't the heinous and unjust jack. Your read on him as sloppy is useful in this regard.

Of course, people who are stupid enough to pay top dollar pre-flop with a lone jack in their hand may be stupid enough to try and bluff on the back of a scary board without bothering to consider whether his opponent is so strong that he can’t lay down. But still we come back to the problem of what on earth your opponent could be holding after so much action that would be weak enough to justify a bluff.

There is only one way this could be a bluff. Your opponent holds a decent hand (say Q-Q) but has the gumption to bluff because he’s worked out his decent hand is still beat. But this is the behaviour of a calm, analytical, fearless poker player, and it doesn’t sound like that is what you are up against. Good fold.


Tags: Tom Sambrook, Strategy,