I'm feeling rather unconfident about how to play bottom set in a "big" pot against a mixed group of opponents. I'll post a hand history, and I would appreciate any comments or suggestions.
Live $20/$40 9 seated limit hold'em game. Players:
UTG - solid player
MP+1 - loose player, usually passive, generally only aggressive with monsters. very very freq cold caller preflop
MP+2 - fairly aggressive player, neither tight nor loose - somewhere in between
CO - aggressive but fairly intelligent player, makes "nice" laydowns
SB - hero
BB - loose chaser
- preflop: UTG open raises, fold, fold, MP+1 cold calls, MP+2 cold calls, CO cold calls, fold, SB calls with 4d4s, BB calls. (6 players, 12 small bets)
- flop: Jc7d4h, checked to MP+2 who bets, everyone calls. (6 players, 18 small bets)
- turn: Jc7d4h9c, checked to MP+2 who bets, CO calls, SB check raises, BB calls, UTG folds, MP+1 3 bets cold, MP+2 folds, CO folds, SB calls, BB calls. (3 players, 20 big bets)
- river: Jc7d4h9c5c, BB bets out, MP+1 calls in a very agitated state, SB folds. BB shows Qc7c, MP+1 frustratingly shows Ts8h. (BB wins 22 big bet pot)
I'm going to start off by saying that no matter how I play this hand, given which actual opponents had drawing hands, I will not make it to the river with the best hand. However, that is irrelevant. I just want to understand how I should optimally play this hand.
The 2+2 books preach that when a pot is big, you must do whatever it takes to maximize your chance of winning the pot. This 12 small bet pot on the flop fits their description of a big pot.
At what point in the hand should I reveal my strength? On the flop, the board is a rainbow and I generally suspect that players that called with suited connectors would tend to have hands that are higher than 7, so I'm much less worried about the 2 gapper between the 7c and the 4h. There is a 3 gapper between the Jd and 7c so in terms of draws there are only gutshots and overpairs drawing to a set. (unless I am already way behind in set over set) 2 pair is not a likely possibility on this board except for BB. Actually, since BB can have any 2 cards, he may also have the low straight draw on the flop.
With 5 opponents on the flop, I have 2 choices: i) check raise to try and knock out the runner runner draws, ii) slow play the flop hoping for a good turn card - the best cards obviously giving me quads or a full house (7 cards), but I also like a 2, Q, K, A (especially when they don't put a flush draw on board). 3 or 5 are somewhat okay, but I will be somewhat conservative if someone shows a lot of strength when they hit.
Given what I actually did on the flop, I'm comfortable with how I played the turn. The only thing I reconsidered was whether or not to cap it after MP+1 3 bets cold. The only reason to do this is to make BB pay more for his obvious draw - but he will always call 2 more here. Capping can't be right on the turn given my read on MP+1's style - I don't believe he makes this move without a better hand than mine.
Once again, my primary question is when do I show strength in this hand?
If there were 7 or 8 opponents in the hand, how does this affect my decision? I think I would be more inclined to check raise the flop since there are likely to be more runner runner draws.
At what number (and types) of opponents is it safe to slow play this flop?