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Hand Review: Missing a Great Bluffing Spot Due to Auto-Pilot

Hand Review: Missing a Great Bluffing Spot Due to Auto-Pilot
  • A "woulda-shoulda-coulda" hand in which Mo Nuwwarah realizes he missed a good bluffing opportunity.

  • Miss the flop? Don't automatically go into check-fold mode as you might also miss a chance at chips.

Covering live poker tournaments for a living affords me the opportunity to see countless thousands of hands played out, many of which offer interesting and potentially valuable insights into how players — both amateurs and professionals — play the game. In this ongoing series, I'll highlight hands I've seen at the tournaments I've covered and see if we can glean anything useful from them.

The Scene

With the Aussie Millions finally in the rearview mirror from this series, we're going to get back to a tournament played for just slightly smaller stakes.

The following hand occurred in one of the $365 events that filled the schedule during World Series of Poker Circuit Choctaw in early January of this year. Of course, these events are populated by the most casual of poker players, but I hadn't had time to get reads as I'd recently moved tables.

I had made a bit of headway in this "Monster Stack" event, turning my starting 20,000 into about 60,000 at 600/1,200/200.

The Action

Action began with an open from the player second to act, who made it 3,000. Two players in middle position called, as did the small blind, so I came along from the big blind with {8-Hearts}{6-Hearts}. The five of us saw the flop come {k-Diamonds}{q-Diamonds}{4-Clubs}.

Everyone checked, then the same thing happened after the {7-Spades} fell on the turn. The river was the {7-Clubs}. The small blind and I both checked, as did the next two players, but the player last to act bet 6,200. Action folded back to the opener, who looked the bettor up and won at showdown with {10-}{10-} against {2-}{2-}.

Concept and Analysis

This hand was one where I found myself a little bit on autopilot. I think I missed a spot to steal some chips when, if I would have been more focused, I could have pounced.

Consider the action leading up to the river. The only sign of any strength in the pot was an early position raise, but that player had since settled into passive mode, seemingly content to put no more chips into the pot.

We have a final board of {k-Diamonds}{q-Diamonds}{4-Clubs}{7-Spades}{7-Clubs}. With all of the possible draws present on the flop, it doesn't look like a board anyone would be too likely to slow play. I can also most likely rule out anyone being nutted in this spot aside from possibly the player last to act.

When she bet the river, I just almost reflexively folded, having long ago resigned myself to losing this pot and moving on. However, it's first of all possible that if she had a seven in her hand, she would have bet the turn after everyone checks twice. It would be reasonable to think you might have the best hand at that point and to try to take down the pot and deny equity to overcards or someone in the blinds with something like {a-}{4-} or {6-}{5-}.

More importantly, I think I can credibly represent a strong hand. I called out of the big blind in a spot where I was getting something like 8-to-1 on my money. I could potentially have almost any two cards.

Checking the flop and the turn would also be standard with a hand that contained a seven and backdoored into miracle trips. I'd likely bet the river, but it's conceivable that I'd check figuring the only value I'd get would be from someone else taking a stab at the pot.

I also have full houses in my range that nobody else should really have, something like {q-}{7-} or {k-}{7-}. Slow playing these hands would make an abundance of sense with nobody seeming likely to pay off a bet.

Furthermore, I have a bit of card removal in my favor with my eight and six taking away some combos she could have that contain a seven.

Given all this, I think putting in a small check-raise to something like 16,000 would be a fantastic play here on the river. There would be almost no chance of anyone behind me calling, so it would really be down to whether the bettor had anything. She could definitely be trying to buy it with a late-position bet after a slew of checks on multiple streets, and I can credibly rep something big.

I could have swept up a pot worth about a third of my stack. Instead, this same player wound up busting me just a few orbits later!

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