Thursday, August 11, 2005

Playing sets in big pots

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.

hand #1
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?


Anonymous said...

Personally I like check-raising the flop and leading the turn but waiting until the turn is fine. If people are in with hands like T8o cold for a raise, it's more important to shut them out by making them pay two bets on the flop, whereas if you can put people on a smaller range of hands, this flop isn't very scary-looking. Your hand isn't strong enough that you want five opponents seeing a cheap turn card. Hands like KQ can pick up big draws with a good turn card and higher pocket pairs can hit a lucky set and kill you. If hands like these are going to call two bets cold on the flop and then draw out on you, god bless them, but I think you've got to pressure them to fold.

Anonymous said...

Looks like a big hand that you're destined to lose money on. I would've check-raised the flop in a pot that big, but check-calling can't be much of a mistake. Given your read of your opponents, I like the just-call of the 3-bet on the turn. Personally, I probably close my eyes and call the river because I hate folding sets for one bet on the end in pots that size. But you seemed to be very sure of where your opponents were, so I don't really fault the fold. Better luck next time.