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Facing a River Overbet for My Tournament Life: Call or Fold?

Jonathan Little

Today I want to complete our ongoing review of hands I played in the $3,500 buy-in World Poker Tour Borgata Poker Open a few months back, a tournament in which I managed to make a relatively good run before falling in 36th place.

It was Day 3, and after losing several all-ins versus shorter stacks, I had fallen below average to about 425,000 or 28 big blinds when I was dealt {j-Spades}{j-Clubs} in the hijack seat. The blinds were 10,000/15,000 with a 15,000 big blind ante, and I opened to 35,000.

It folded a loose-aggressive (and perhaps slightly tilty) player in the small blind who called from his stack of 790,000, and the big blind folded. The flop came {7-Hearts}{6-Spades}{3-Clubs} and my opponent checked.

As I explain below, this is a spot where I'm betting almost always, and in this case with my stack size I'm thinking about finding a good bet size that could allow my opponent to check-raise all in. There was 100,000 in the pot and I bet 50,000.

The small blind called, the turn brought the {10-Hearts}, and he checked again. As I run through my options here I could check or bet relatively big. Here I thought my opponent was primed to make a mistake on the river if I checked, and so that's what I did.

The {3-Hearts} river completed the board, and as it happened my opponent put me to a decision by jamming all in — a big overbet compared to the 200,000 in the middle. I had 340,000 behind.

I could easily be crushed here, but I also beat lots of hands that my opponent could certainly have. What would you do? Do you usually call or fold when everything is at risk?

Take a look and listen to my analysis of the hand from start to finish, and see what I decided on the river and how things turned out.

Photo: "Jonathan Little," World Poker Tour, CC BY-ND 2.0.

Jonathan Little is a professional poker player and author with over $7,000,000 in live tournament earnings. He writes a weekly educational blog and hosts a podcast at JonathanLittlePoker.com. Sign up to learn poker from Jonathan for free at PokerCoaching.com. You can follow him on Twitter @JonathanLittle.

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