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Key Concept: Flopping a Set
You are eight players in the main event of the World Series of Poker with 85,000 chips with blinds at 200-400. He folds to the lojack which raises to 1000, the hijack calls, and he folds to you on the button holding 5 5.
Question 1: Should you fold, call, re-raise to 4,500 or re-raise to 6,000?
Answer: I can’t remember the last time I raised in a place like this. With small pairs, I recommend always calling pre-flop raises because when you re-raise you will occasionally get a 4-bet, forcing you to fold. Getting a 4-bet on 5-5 prevents you from taking a very playable hand on the flop with a chance of hitting a set. Even if your opponent decides to just call your re-raise, you’re still in bad shape after the flop if you don’t hit your set.
For the most part, with hands that are clearly premium or clearly marginal after the flop, you’d rather see the flop and go from there.
You call and the big blind also calls. The flop comes 6 5 2the big blind checks and the lojack bets 6,000 (130% pot) on their 34,000 stack. The hijack folds and the action is on you.
Question 2: Should you fold, call, raise to 14,000 or go all-in?
Answer: The first question you want to ask is “what does my opponent’s range look like?” If your reading suggests that your opponent has mostly strong hands like top pair, you should be inclined to raise. Considering that the lojack only has 28,000 chips left, you can put them all-in.
A small raise should be avoided, because even if it gives your opponent value, if he has a hand like JJ and an ace or king comes on the turn, he may be able to make a tight fold. Since the lojack may have hands other than premium pairs, calling is probably ideal as it forces them to stay in the pot, allowing you to extract additional value on the turn and river. There is also the player left to play in the big blind to consider.
You call and the big blind folds. Turn is 2 and this time the lojack checks.
Question 3: Should you check, bet 3,000, bet 8,000 or bet 16,000?
Answer: When your opponent checks the turn, it’s safe to assume they don’t have a premium hand. You definitely want to bet with your full house, but what size should you use? 3,000 is too small for the strength of your hand, and while it might be tempting to try to put all the money in now, 16,000 is way too big. Betting 8,000 steadily grows the pot and leaves your opponent with only 20,000 behind on the river, which you should be able to reasonably get all-in.
You bet 8,000 and your opponent calls. The river is the 8 and your opponent checks.
Question 4: Should you check, bet 8,000, bet 16,000 or go all-in?
Answer: Sometimes during big/important events (like the WSOP main event), you can streamline by using a non-all-in size. If you can tell your opponent that he really doesn’t want to be eliminated from the “special” tournament, maybe betting 16,000 is better than going all-in for 20,000.
But ignoring times when your opponent is much more likely to call a non-all-in bet than an all-in bet, since your opponent is only 20,000 behind and the pot is at 32,600, the good game is to put them all-in.
You push and your opponent folds.
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