Jonathan Little Hand of the Week: Recognizing Strength in Your Opponents
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In today’s review, I’ll be breaking down a hand from Jaman Burton, a great poker vlogger who streams his live cash game sessions. This particular hand took place at Encore. The game is, of course, No Limit Texas Hold’em, and the stakes are $2/$5.
The action begins with one early position limper and Jaman waking up with pocket Jacks in the middle position.
He makes it $25 to go, and he gets called by the big blind and the original limper.
The flop comes 4d 7d 7s, and the action checks to Jaman. Whenever you find yourself in these types of multi-way spots, you need to be careful, as it’s easy for your opponents to have a hand like 8-7 suited, which would have you in bad shape.
That said, it’s still a decent spot to continue with the aggression when checked to with a hand like pocket Jacks. The pot is $80 at this point, so a bet of around $40 – $45 seems reasonable.
This allows your opponents to continue with some worse hands, like pocket fives and all sorts of draws, while folding out weak hands that still have some equity, like K-5 with the King of diamonds.
It’s worth noting that, in live poker specifically, you should pay attention to your opponents and try to gauge how they like their hands. This can help you decide whether to bet on the flop or check and see the turn.
If you do bet and get raised on this board texture, folding is probably the best option, because they’ll have you beat a lot, and even when they don’t, they’ll have strong combo draws and there are many bad turn cards on which they can bluff you off your pocket pair.
Jaman decides to bet for $50 and gets called in both spots.
When both players call your flop bet here, you should proceed with caution on the turn. While the first opponent can still call with a wide variety of hands, the second one will likely get out of the way with a hand like a lone four.
While there are still some relatively strong poker hands they can have that you’re still ahead of (like pocket eights), they’ll have a lot of sevens and some big draws.
The turn comes 9c, which doesn’t really change much, as it doesn’t complete any draws from the flop, but it creates a lot of additional draws. Both opponents check once again, and the question is, what’s the best course of action here?
I think two options you have here are:
- Betting small – if you believe your opponents aren’t too aggressive
- Checking behind – if you know one or both players are more on the aggressive side
There is no point in betting big, as you’ll only get action from sevens and really good draws.
Also, if you do bet turn and get called, you pretty much have to check back all the rivers except for a Jack or maybe a 7, as you can’t really expect to get called by worse if you bet again, and you’ll pretty much always get looked up by better hands.
Jaman goes for a slightly larger bet of $110 and gets called by the big blind. The second player then goes ahead and raises it up to $400.
While it’s not a great spot to be in, there is a silver lining here, as your decision is very easy at this point. With this action, you always need to fold your pocket Jacks as the second player can easily have all the hands that have you drawing near dead.
A mistake that many players make here is that they call or even go all-in because they don’t believe their opponent would check twice with a seven in their hand.
With this action, I can pretty much guarantee you that the raising player either has a hand like Td8d or 5d6d for a huge combo-draw or trips or better.
Jaman makes the correct decision here and folds, and the action is back to the big blind player. They’ll be in a tough spot with a variety of hands.
If they have a draw, they could be drawing dead already if they’re up against a full house. However, the early position limper could have all sorts of random sevens, so I think with a good combo draw or even a naked A-high flush draw, you’re supposed to call here.
When the big blind has a seven, it’s really hard to find a fold here, although it’s very likely that they’re up against another seven or even a full house.
So, with bad sevens that you might have here, like 7-3 or 7-5, a fold is probably the best option, as nitty as that may sound.
In this particular hand, though, the big blind tanks for a little while and then jams for around $1,100 total.
What hands make sense to shove with here?
- Straight flush combo draws to get Ace-high flush draws to fold
- Maybe A-7 and K-7 trying to get value from weaker sevens
- Full houses – should you ever shove those and give weaker sevens a chance to get away?
Personally, I don’t think we should have a shoving range in this spot at all, and I might be wrong about that. But it just looks like a spot where you don’t want to be shoving much of anything with either draws or your value hands.
As it happens, the second player snap calls here, and all the money goes into the middle.
There is no action left to discuss, but the river comes a fun card in Jd, which would give Jaman the top full house if he got to the final card somehow.
The initial limper turns over pocket fours, for a flopped full house, and the big blind shows pocket 9s for a turned top full house.
Not much to say here – I like how Jaman played this hand from start to finish. It’s just how it goes sometimes!
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