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Cash Catastrophes, Vol. 4: Hero Calling Unexpected River Bets

Cash Catastrophes: Hero-Calling Unexpected River Bets

Carlos Welch presents another installment of his “Cash Catastrophes” series in which he examines mistakes made in cash games, thereby providing opportunities to learn how to avoid them going forward.

The Hand

It’s my regular $1/$2 no-limit hold’em game. The effective stacks are about $350. Two players limp in from middle position, then I raise to $20 from the cutoff with {Q-Clubs}{9-Clubs}. Only the player in the small blind (SB) calls. There’s $46 in the pot.

The flop comes {K-Hearts}{9-Diamonds}{2-Diamonds}.

Based on their limps (I think), I didn’t believe the middle position players had much. They just wanted to see a cheap flop. I raised to bluff them off of their marginal hands. SB’s call surprised me. I put him on a marginal pair or Broadway cards.

It checks to me and I bet $30. SB calls. The pot is now $106.

The turn brings the {5-Diamonds}.

After calling the flop, I put him on a {K-}, a flush draw, or a medium pocket pair. I’ll bet again on the turn and fold if he raises. If he calls, I’ll check back on the river.

He checks. I bet $40 and he calls. The pot is now $186.

The river is the {K-Clubs}.

He leads for $100.

Whoa! There goes my check back. This was not a part of my plan. Okay, let’s see. I think he would have raised the turn with a flush and a {K-} is less likely now that there are now two of them on the board. I’m getting almost 3-to-1 so I think I have to call here.

I call. He shows {A-Diamonds}{10-Diamonds}.

The Problem

When SB calls my big raise from out of position without even closing the action, I knew he had a strong range. I like my continuation bet on the flop because a lot of the hands in his range are marginal pairs looking to flop a set and I can easily represent {A-}{K-}. The problem is I should have known how serious he was about his hand once he called the c-bet. After calling a big raise preflop from the worst possible position, he calls a big flop bet on the perfect board for my range. This was the time for me to slow down.

Instead, I made a half-hearted turn bet which served as nothing more than a pot sweetener. With the flush getting there, this bet was not going to get worse to call or better to fold. I should have checked, but my worst mistake came on the river.

When this guy comes out and leads the river, he means business. His range is incredibly strong at this point because the turn and river improved most of the hands I put him on after his flop call. The flush draws got there and the {K-} hands are now trips. Not to mention the fact that a $100 bet in this game is big in an absolute sense. And big bets on the river in small stakes games are usually the gospel.

Folding here is not exploitable because this hand isn’t anywhere near the top of my calling range on this river. A lot of the time I am going to show up in this spot with sets, flushes, and boats. I wouldn’t have been giving up too much by letting a guy bluff me off of second pair the rare times he didn’t have it beat.

The Lesson

It’s funny how learning in poker works. You have an edge, so you think you have complete control over the players in your game. When things don’t go as you’ve planned, you get paranoid and start thinking that people are making moves on you. But you have to understand that when a guy plays his hand passively then suddenly wakes up and takes control, he’s not doing it to offend you. More often than not, he just has it.

Photo: “Tearing Money,” Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0 Generic.

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