Jonathan Little Hand of the Week: Brutal River Card Creates Loads of Action
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The hand we’ll be looking into today is from the heads-up skirmish in a high-stakes tournament between Shannon Shorr and Ren Lin.
It’s just two players left, and they’re playing for the title and the big first-place prize, so there is a lot on the line.
With blinds at 50K/100K/100K, Ren Lin is the effective stack, starting the hand with 4.5 million to Shorr’s 6.9 million.
The action begins with Shannon Shorr limping the button with Q♣3♦, a weak poker hand in general but quite playable in heads-up situations.
Lin looks down at Q♥5♥ and is happy to check his option and see the flop with a hand that can flop very well instead of raising and risking getting blown off.
The first three cards look good for both players, as the flop comes Q♦5♣4♦. Shorr flops the top pair, but Ren has him in trouble with the top two.
Lin decides to play in flow and checks over to Shannon, who decides to check back.
I like this play with a top pair and a really bad kicker. If you think about hands that are likely to pay you off on all three streets, they are likely to be a top pair or better, and when you have a terrible kicker, their top pair will be better than yours.
Having these hands in your check-back range also allows you to check back with some marginal hands for balance.
The turn is 8♠, and Ren Lin now comes out betting for 200K into a 300K pot. He definitely needs to start betting and building a pot here, and I think he could even go for a bigger sizing here.
There will be many hands in Shorr’s range that have decent equity and will not want to fold – all flopped or turned pairs, different straight and flush draws, etc.
These hands will likely call a big bet, so Ren could have definitely gone for larger sizing.
Shannon has a very easy call with his top pair after checking the flop. As it looks right now, he has an easy hand to play that will cost him a few chips, but nothing catastrophic.
However, the final card changes everything as the dealer finds the last queen in the deck in Q♠. This improves Shorr to trips but gives Lin a full house.
To make things even worse for Shannon, Ren decides to check instead of continuing the aggression.
I don’t mind this check at all. When you block many of the hands that your opponent might call a big bet with (which is definitely the case here), your only options are to bet small and hope for a crying call or check to maybe induce a bluff.
If Shorr has some kind of a busted draw here, he’s likely to go for a bluff, and if he does somehow have a queen, Lin can put him in a really tough spot by check-raising to potentially extract the maximum value.
After being checked to, Shannon thinks about his options and then goes for an overbet, making it 850,000.
This is good sizing to go for with your big hands and your busted draws because, at this point, Lin’s hand looks a lot like a bluff-catcher that might have a hard time calling a big bet.
Of course, Ren Lin goes for a check-raise and moves all in, putting a lot of pressure on Shorr!
The tough thing about playing against high-stakes players is that they’ll put you to decisions like this with their big hands and with their bluffs alike. So, folding trips heads-up in these scenarios is not an easy decision.
In general and against most people, this is a fairly easy fold because your opponent will almost always have trips or better in this spot.
So given all this, Shannon Shorr picks a very interesting way to make up his mind and come up with a decision. Check out the video above to find out how – and if he makes the correct one!
Jonathan Little is a two-time WPT champion with more than $7 million in live tournament winnings and best-selling author of multiple poker strategy books. If you want to learn from the best and increase your edge at the tables, make sure to get your FREE 3-day pass and check his training site at pokercoaching.com