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Call or Raise? Going for Thin Value on the River

Call or Raise? Going for Thin Value on the River
  • @JonathanLittle rivers set, but straights & flushes are possible. Just call or raise for thin value?

  • VIDEO: @JonathanLittle analyzes a tricky tournament hand from an EPT preliminary event.

This week's hand comes from a European Poker Tour side event, a €2,000 buy-in no-limit hold'em tournament. It was early with the blinds at 100/200 with a 25 ante, and I was sitting on a stack of around 25,000 when I was dealt {K-Diamonds}{K-Clubs} in early position.

Before I could act, a loose-aggressive player opened for 550 from under the gun. Three-betting from early position looks incredibly strong here, and so I decided just to call so as to disguise the strength of my hand. The big blind called as well, and the three of us saw a flop come {10-Hearts}{7-Hearts}{2-Spades}.

It checked to me and I bet 1,100, and both of my opponents stuck around. The turn then brought the {A-Spades} — a bad card for me — and when it checked to me again I checked behind as well.

The river was the {K-Spades}, giving me a set of kings but also filling backdoor straight and flush draws. The player in the big blind led with a bet of 2,200 into the 5,275 pot, and the original raiser folded.

The question on the river is whether just to call or to go for thin value by raising (we're not folding). Calling would be the safe play, but as I talk about in the video there is some merit to raising as well. Take a look at what I decide and how things turn out:

Do you go for thin value in this situation or do you play cautiously? When raising for value, always make assumptions about the hands with which your opponent can call your raise. If there are very few hands that you beat that can call, you should usually opt to call.

Let me know what you think of my decision and whether or not you'd have played the hand differently in a comment below.

Jonathan Little is a professional poker player and author with over $6,300,000 in live tournament earnings. He writes a weekly educational blog and hosts a podcast at You can follow him on Twitter @JonathanLittle.

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