Cash Catastrophes, Vol. 2: Missing Value with the Nuts

Cash Catastrophes: Missing Value with the Nuts

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 $400. The player sitting under the gun (UTG) raises to $7. I call in the cutoff (CO) with {7-Spades}{7-Clubs}. The player on the button (BTN) calls as well, and the blinds fold. There’s $24 in the pot.

The flop comes {6-Spades}{5-Spades}{4-Spades}.

It checks to me and I bet $10. BTN calls and UTG folds. The pot is now $44.

The turn brings the {10-Hearts}.

Hmmm... (I think). I’d better check because I would not know what to do if I bet and he raised. If he’s slow playing a flush, I do not want to be blown off of my two-outer. I’ll just check and call his bet.

I check. He checks behind. The pot is still $44.

The river is the {8-Spades}.

Bink! I rivered the nuts. If he called my flop bet with a big spade, I should be able to win a big pot. If I bet here, he may just call with the {k-Spades}, raise the {a-Spades}, and fold hands without a spade. If I check, he will bet his strong flushes for value and may even decide to bluff with a non-flush since I have played the hand so weakly. With a hand this strong, I think I have to take a chance and go for a check-raise to build a bigger pot.

I check. He instantly checks behind, shows {a-Hearts}{k-Spades}, and reaches for the pot. He looks very confused when I show my straight flush.

Really? How on Earth do you check behind with the king-high flush? I mean, all I’ve done so far is take a weak stab at the flop and check two streets. Unreal. This kinda feels like a bad beat. What a waste!

The Problem

First off, I should not have been so passive with my hand on the turn. Sure, my pair plus a weak flush draw was not that impressive, but having the open-ended straight flush draw to back it up gave me plenty of equity to call a turn raise. I was ahead of most hands in his range and would have been getting the right price to call many others if he had made a reasonably sized raise. The only hand that had me crushed was a made flush, which likely would have raised on the flop.

Secondly, I underestimated the unreasonable fear that many small stakes players have of flush cards as well as how much they love to show down their hands. Thin value bets on the river — such as I was hoping my opponent to make here — are simply not commonplace in these games. This is especially true when four cards to a flush are on the board.

I might add that this player is not particularly good and is even a bit on the tight side. In other words, I should have considered that there was a chance he would check back with the {k-Spades}. For him and players like him, the pain of losing to a better hand trumps the joy of getting a river bet paid off.

The Lesson

I will give myself a bit of credit here. It is good that I considered the possibility of getting raised on the turn before blindly betting a marginal hand. However, I overestimated how bad it would be for me if the raise happened. I should have been looking for excuses to bet instead of excuses not to bet.

Aggressive poker is winning poker. In the future, I should err on the side of betting a little too often instead of not often enough.

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