Anatomy of a Slow Play -- Part Two (Updated With Results)
After last week's post, I thought it would be helpful to post another real-life hand example I have played in recent days where I was faced with what I thought had to be the best hand, as well as two opponents whom I wanted to dupe into giving me their chips.
A few nights ago I'm in the nightly Bracelet Race on FullTilt, and the blinds are up to the 80/160 level. I'm in the big blind, so I'm already in for 160 chips. The first two to act both fold preflop, and then 5th position (cryhrse) bumps it up but only 2x to 320 chips. Two more folds, and the cutoff (ZapperRon) calls the 320 bet. SB folds, and I look down to find K2s. Normally most definitely not a hand I would go to war with preflop, but for just 160 more into an 880-chip pot at that point, I had to make the call so I did. I watch the flop come out in stunned silence:
You gotta love it when you flop a boat, especially top boat where I have the stone nuts. There is hardly any better feeling in poker, other than maybe flopping quads or a straight flush (those are always okay too!), or maybe flopping two pair or better while playing the Hammer for a reraise preflop. So, there's already 1040 chips in the pot, and my goal now, along the lines of my previous post, is to figure out how I can get all the chips from both of the players in this pot with me. As I've discussed, that's just how I roll when I get a monster flop like this. So, with the action to me, I figure I'm not going to get paid if no one else hit this flop, so I check it. Not my usual move in a slowplay situation, but in this case where I have flopped the stone cold nuts, I figure I need to give someone else a chance to catch up a bit on the future cards. I was happy to see this betting action ensue after my flop check:
Cryhrse minbets, and ZapperRon ron calls that minbet. I figure that could mean a lot of things. Either one of my fishponents could hold a pocket pair, A solid Ace, or (hopefully) be slowplaying while holding the case King. Either way, in this case I still feel like I need to give someone else the chance to catch up to me, and although with the leadout bet and the call it is entirely possible that someone might call a not-too-large raise from me here, the one thing I do not want to do just yet at all costs is tip the strength of my hand. Surprise is my greatest asset here the way I have played this hand. I flat called a preflop raise of 2x out of the BB at pot odds that made a call compulsory. Then I checked the flop. As far as these guys are concerned, I could have the Hammer (actually, I would have raised with that...) or really any other two cards. In their eyes I've got nothing, and I don't want to do anything just yet to disabuse either of them of that notion. So, I just call, not worried about giving free cards with my nut boat still sitting out there, leaving 1520 chips in the pot as the turn card comes:
The 9 of diamonds. Not as good as a higher card coming for me, but it is also a second diamond, hopefully making someone a backdoor flush draw that they might be willing to call a smallish-sized bet with. I can't worry about someone having a K9 here, so I opt to just check it again, opting to keep with the charade that I have basically nothing in the hole. Again my element of surprise with this hand is the single best thing I have going for me right now, given the way this hand has played out. Cryhrse, the original preflop raiser also checks, which I found to be curious given his preflop raise and his minbet on the flop, but as I'm pondering what this could mean, ZapperRon puts in a smallish bet of his own:
The 320-chip bet represents barely one-fifth of the pot, so I can't read too much strength into this bet, and as these guys still don't have any clue what I have, and now with the second diamond falling on the turn, I want to keep both of these guys around as long as possible here, so I smooth call the 320. Again, you will barely ever see me slowplay a big hand for this long, especially online, but flopping the nut boat is one of those very few situations where I think this can be a useful, and not very risky, play. I was happy to see Cryhrse, the original preflop raiser, also call this small bet, building up what was now a sizable pot of 2480 chips heading into the river card, which I am hoping against hope will make someone a second-best hand that they simply can't get away from no matter what size bet I throw at them with my nuts. The river card comes the Jack of diamonds, making a possible backdoor flush on the board as well as a possible straight to anyone holding QT:
OK now here is the most interesting part of the hand to me. Obviously, I intend to bet this hand since the river is going to be my last chance to get some good money in here. But these guys might still think I literally have nothing, reading my preflop call as a pure pot odds move, then my flop call of the minbet as also a move that was clearly dictated by the odds being laid by the pot, and even the turn bet of 320 into a pot with over 1700 chips not indicating much strength. In the end, I figured that since Cryhrse had bet preflop and on the flop, and since ZapperRon had bet on the turn, I figured the odds were pretty solid that at least one of them would make some kind of a stab at the pot here. So, I did the thing that I figured would enable me to get one or both of these guys more pot committed:
That's right --- playing online, I checked the flop with the nuts, checked the turn with the nuts, and then checked again the river also holding what I was sure to be the nuts. You won't see me check all three streets in holdem probably more than once or twice a year, and really only in this situation, where I have a very hard to beat nutty hand right off the flop. But in this case this seemed to be the smartest, most strategic way to get chips into the pot and yet continue to throw my opponents off about the strength of my hand.
I was very pleased to see Cryhrse throw 800 chips out there to start the action:
ZapperRon thought for a while, and then folded. I was definitely disappointed in that I was hoping his turn bet meant he had either picked up two pairs or trips with the 9 on the turn, but in the end I got a solid 800 or so chips from his stack so I couldn't be too upset with that outcome.
Question: What's the money move here for me? I've definitely won the hand, right? Given my cards and the play of the hand thus far, do I raise here? How much? I need to come up with the amount that gets me the maximum amount of Cryhrse's chips, but not so much that he folds to my raise. What's the money move?
I will have my decision and the results of the hand posted later but want to give some time for your thoughts and responses before then.
Update With Hand Results:
Almost every time I'm faced with a decision at the river, it usually helps me to review the betting patterns and what's happened so far, to try to determine my opponent's likely holdings and the best way to deal with that range of holdings. So here, Cryhrse had led off the betting preflop with a curiously small 2x raise. Then he bet small on the flop, but his check on the turn seemed curious for a guy who just up and bet another 800 at me on the river. I read the strangely small preflop raise and the check on the turn as feigned weakness, and I was betting this guy had something playable. Not the stone nuts, but something he was willing to go to war with. So, I made the decision to move in on him:
And he responded:
Folded. Dammit. I'd love to tell you what he had, but I never saw it. Though I feel fairly sure it was a medium pocket pair. I think that's the best thing that fits the preflop 2x raise, the bet on the flop when a pair hit the board, and then the river bet when he thought he might be able to steal. Either way, I won 4080 chips with this slow-play, so I chalk that one up as another successful maneuver. Although I am pissed I didn't lay off a bit with this river bet. I'm sure I could have gotten a call for something less -- as many of the commenters have suggested, anything from 1000 to maybe 2500 or so would have probably worked better. I just thought he had played this hand like something he was willing to go with here.