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Bet Sizing When Targeting Second-Best Hands

Bet Sizing When Targeting Second-Best Hands
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  • Considering how much to reraise when you bet your super-strong hand on the river and get raised.

  • A river spot that demands a reraise, but also requires some thought about the most profitable sizing.

When you get raised on the river, it is always worth considering whether you can put in a reraise with your value hands, even if they aren't strictly the nuts.

The following hand presents such a case. Of course if you do decide to reraise, the question then becomes one of size. In that regard, your opponent's capacities to fold strong-looking hands will be the most important factor.

The Setup

Early in a $1,000 live tournament I limped along at 50-100 with the potent {Q-Clubs}{10-Clubs}. Stacks were all around 24,000.

Five or six players saw the flop, two with position on me, which came {A-Spades}{Q-Hearts}{8-Clubs}. It checked around to the button who bet 400. I called and the cutoff called. The turn was the {Q-Spades}, giving me trips. I could bet here, but didn't. When we checked to the button, he fired 1,000. Only I called.

The river was the {10-Hearts}, making me a full house. I worried my opponent would check behind some hands, so I led out 2,200. I was surprised, but happy, to see a raise to 5,000.

How Strong is Your Hand, Relatively?

This is a limped pot and the limper who just raised the river had limped after three other people had done the same. So I think we can automatically exclude {A-}{A-} 100 percent of the time. {A-}{Q-} is also very unlikely since most players, even the most passive recreational, will feel a need to thin the field and have position with which to do so.

In other circumstances we might be able to rate our hand not-nutted, but because it is so difficult to run into better hands here, we should proceed as if we have the nuts. If he stacks us with {A-}{Q-}, so be it.

The flip side is that there are many "strong" hands that are second-best to ours. {K-}{J-} and {J-}{9-} each made a straight on this river. Pocket eights makes a ton of sense given the preflop, flop, and turn action, while {Q-}{8-} is possible for the same reasons.

We simply have to reraise this river. But if we reraise too large, we may push our opponent off a straight like {J-}{9-}.

Too Many Choices

Our main problem in this hand becomes that we could choose 8,800, 20,000, or any denomination of 25 chips in between those two extremes. We have too many choices.

Very beginning players will be unable to fold any hand they raise the river with here to an all-in shove. This particular player, as it happened, had prior to this hand made some remarks to indicate that he was scared money. On the other hand, he had tattoo-sleeved arms, so maybe he wouldn't like backing down from a raising contest.

In general, our hand looks like a gutshot straight that came in. Our opponent may or may not be thinking about that.

The correct size here might be to shove since our opponent has {8-}{8-} often and will never fold. But what if our opponent thinks {Q-}{8-} and {8-}{8-} strong enough to four-bet the river all in? Then we should choose a size that gets the most out of straights, since we always get a full stack from worse full houses no matter what happens.

This became my assumption. Namely, that if I moved all in, {J-}{9-} and maybe {K-}{J-} could sometimes fold, which is a disaster if he would have called off 10,000. I did also assume if I raised, a hand like {Q-}{8-} or {8-}{8-} (or the almost impossible {10-}{10-}) would move in.

Results and Reflection

In the moment I raised to 10,000 exactly, clawing back my 2,200 and putting two grays out to double my opponent's one. I think this was a mistake — I think just throwing two grays on top of my bet to make 12,200 the size still gets a groan call from straights. Why do I think that?

Because my opponent snap-called the raise to 10,000 with {Q-}{9-} for naked trips.

That is a hand he should just flat-call my river bet with in the first place, since he can be beaten so easily and it is hard for me to be bluffing with a river lead.

But if he is raising this hand, the other assumption, that we stack {8-}{8-} no matter what, is probably true. That makes me feel confident we could have gotten 2,200 more in value from the instances he has rivered a straight.

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