First Hand Analysis

With the shutdown of online poker in the US, I have been playing more live poker than I have in a long time.  This hand happened the other day at Parx, which is located just outside of Philadelphia, in a $10-$10 NL game.  Names have been changed.

John has $2000 and is tight and not very aggressive.  Adam has $2000 is in the BB and has shown down big hands when a lot of money goes in the pot.   He has some bet sizing tells and is probably a breakeven player.

John(AJ)  limps in and seat 6 and Adam (66)  checks.

The flop is JJ5 and all players check.

The turn is a 6.  Seat 6 and Adam check and John bets $30 and only Adam calls.

The river is a 3.  Adam checks and John bets $80.  Adam checkraises to $400 and John calls.

John went on a long tirade about how unlucky he has been getting and how unfortunate that turn was.  I would like to look at his decisions throughout the hand.

Preflop:  With hands such as AJ John should raise as it makes the hand far easier to play.  If he calls, it will likely result in playing a pot out of position if people call behind and if it get raised, it is probably best to fold because he will be out of position against a player who likely has a better hand.

Flop:  John was lucky that he was able to see a flop and it was a good one.  He should be willing to put a lot of money in on the flop, but unfortunately, it is unlikely that anyone has anything that is willing to put in money.  If either of the blinds had a 5, they would likely bet the flop to protect their hand and win the pot easily. A Jack would sometimes bet out as well.  The flop provides no draws, so another card is far more likely to give his opponents a second best hand that they can put money in with than a hand that puts them ahead.  For example, if the turn is a King and an opponent has KT, they may be willing to call turn and river bets.

Turn:  The board now has straight and flush draws so betting is a better alternative to giving another card that might give either of the blinds a free card to a winning hand.  Note that seat 6 or Adam would often bet an open ended straight draw, a flush draw or a 6 on the turn, so a bet will probably result in winning the pot right there.  When the blinds check, John bets $30 which is good since it protects his hand and it starts to build the pot with his hand in case someone has something they want to call with.

River:  I like John’s $80 bet on the river as it represents either a big hand (trips or better) or a bluff.  If Adam has a 5 or a 6 and does not believe that John has him beat, he is probably going to call $50 as readily as $80.  When Adam checkraises, John’s hand, which had previously appeared very strong became not nearly as strong because it is unlikely that Adam(or most players) would checkraise the river to such a large amount without a full house or a straight or as a bluff.  In addition, if you combine that with the fact that Adam is far more likely to slowplay a full house than a Jack and that most of Adam’s bluffs would be missed draws that likely would have bet the turn, there are few hands that John beats.  As such, I believe this is a fold, despite the strength of John’s hand.

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