Jonathan Little Hand of the Week: Facing a Big Bet With a Bluff-catcher
Last Updated: November 5, 2023
If you want to increase your edge at the tables, make sure to get your FREE 3-day pass and check Jonathan Little's training site.
For this week, I’ll be looking into a hand played by one of my favorite poker vloggers, Jaman Burton, as he finds himself in a dicey river spot with a marginal made hand.
The action is $5/10 at the Bellagio, with $1,500 effective stacks, and let’s dive right into it!
The hand begins with the highjack opening to $30 and Jaman looking down at J♠J♦ next to act. He decides to 3-bet for $110, and this is a perfectly standard play.
You may think that the raise sizing is a bit too big, but when you’re playing in a live cash game 150 big blinds deep, you want to use bigger sizes than what you may be used to when playing with shallower stacks.
The action folds around to the highjack player who makes the call, and they proceed to the flop heads-up.
The flop isn’t the best one for pocket jacks as it comes A♠8♦3♠. The opponent plays in flow and checks his option, and Jaman decides to check back.
This is an interesting spot since when the action checks through on the flop, you need to have a solid plan on what you want to do on turns and rivers.
You will face bets a lot of the time on one or both remaining streets because a lot of players deciding not to c-bet on this flop will have a marginal hand.
Typically, when the board comes uncoordinated and ace-high, I’ll continuation bet small because I have the nut advantage here as the 3-bettor.
Checking back is fine as well, but you need to have a solid read on what your opponent will do. Against some players, you’ll want to call down, and against others, you’ll probably need to fold if they bet on the turn and the river.
The turn card is 7♣, and Jaman’s opponent seizes the opportunity to take the lead in the hand, betting out for $130.
An important concept Jaman mentions here is that his opponent “knows how to bluff.” Against a tight and passive opponent, you probably still call the turn but fold the river if they bet big.
Jacks are too strong of a hand to fold immediately, and a lot of players will shut down on the river, which is why a call on the turn is pretty much mandatory here from the GTO perspective.
In light of all this information, Jaman makes the call, and they proceed to the final card.
The board pairs on the river as it comes 3♣, and the opponent goes for a big bet, putting out $400 into the $495 pot.
What would you do in this spot with pocket jacks facing this big river bet?
We could easily be against an ace here. On the other hand, this is a spot in live poker where some players only bet big when they’re bluffing.
Their logic is that if they bet big, you can’t call if you don’t have an ace. So, when they do have an ace, they’ll bet smaller to try and induce a call.
This is a much tougher spot against a balanced player, of course, but against someone who uses exploitative strategies or bluffs too much, you kind of have to call.
So what did Jaman do, and was he right in his assessment of the situation? Check out the video above to find out!