Hold'em with Holloway, Vol. 119: Power of Check-Raising at the 2019 Borgata Poker Open
One of the benefits of being a tournament reporter is the opportunity to learn from live poker hands without actually having a stake in the game. I've witnessed hundreds of thousands of hands play out over the years, and every once in a while I catch one that piques my interest.
Such a hand played out recently during my first visit to Atlantic City's Borgata Casino. PokerNews is on site providing live updates from the 2019 Borgata Poker Open which you can follow here. I was there working Day 1d of Event #1: $600 Deep Stack Kick Off when the hand took place.
The hand reminded me that sometimes it's easier to pick up on red flags as an outside observer than when you are involved as a player. As a result, I realized it probably wouldn't hurt to add a little "outsider" thinking into my decision-making process.
"[You're] running well when both guys have a queen and another queen [appears] on the turn."
The hand took place in Level 1 (100/100/0) which began with players starting with 25,000 in chips. The under-the-gun player opened for 300 and the player in the cutoff called. The player on the button did the same, and Josh Krasnecky came along out of the big blind to make it four-way action to the flop, which came down .
Two checks saw the player in the cutoff bet 700 and the button called. Krasnecky then woke up with a check-raise to 2,000 and the original raiser got out of the way. The cutoff and button both called and the trio watched the dealer burn and turn the .
Krasnecky returned to checking and the player in the cutoff followed suit. The button then bet 3,000 and for the second time, Krasnecky check-raised it, this time making it 9,000 to go. The player in the cutoff thought long and hard before releasing his hand and the button called.
After the was run out on the river, Krasnecky moved all in for 15,200 and the button, who had the bigger stack by a single T500 chip, paused a few beats before making the call.
Krasnecky rolled over for sixes full and the button mucked his hand.
"Running well when both guys have a queen and another queen on the turn," the player in the cutoff quipped, insinuating that he had folded a queen on the turn (and that he thought the other player had one, too).
There really wasn't anything special about the preflop action in the hand. It's common for a single raise to get called multi-way, but from a reporter's perspective, it's a good start for potentially valuable content — both for live updates and for thinking about strategy.
The flop was a little more interesting as Krasnecky checked his flopped set, and rightfully so. His hand is well disguised and there are two players left to act. If one of them had a queen or perhaps a straight draw, chances are they're going to bet.
Assuming the players in the cutoff and button did, in fact, each have a queen, it was no surprise to see the former toss out a bet of 700. After the latter just called, it opened the door for Krasnecky to check-raise.
Some players might just call and wait for the turn to check-raise, but there's no guarantee the opportunity would come as the action could check around. Here the opportunity was there, and really there was no reason for Krasnecky just to call. He had two opponents in, at least one of whom was likely to have a queen. It was time to build the pot, so I wholly approve of the check-raise.
Krasnecky's second check-raise should've been a big red flag to both opponents.
The hand got really interesting after the original raiser folded and both the cutoff and button called the check-raise — after all, did all three of them really have that strong of a hand?
When the board paired queens on the turn, I absolutely love Krasnecky's check. It came off to me, and likely his opponents, that perhaps he had some sort of straight draw or maybe even flopped fives and sixes and got counterfeited. Plus, it was almost certain someone had a queen in this spot and would bet.
The button wound up betting and once again Krasnecky had the opportunity to check-raise, and why not? He was likely to get called by a player with trips, so the more chips that got in the merrier. I also like his sizing of 9,000 as it left him a good shoving stack.
That said, Krasnecky's second check-raise should've been a big red flag to both opponents, especially if they had a queen. That would made it less likely Krasnecky had a lady himself, so what would he conceivably limp preflop and then check-raise with two times in a row? More times than not it means a set and in this case either pocket fives or sixes.
Kudos to the player in the cutoff on folding if he really did have a queen. He recognized the situation and got away. Assuming the button also had a queen, it was likely with a decent kicker which is what probably inspired him to stay in while hoping Krasnecky had trip queens with a worse kicker.
For Krasnecky, the river had to be a little scary as it was possible his opponent had , but he didn't let it discourage him from moving all in. Queen-jack is just one combo, and you can't let the small chance of an opponent getting lucky with that one specific hand discourage you from getting value out of all the other queen combos.
By that point the button seemed to know that he was beat, but as players are prone to do he called anyway. I think it was one of those "in for a penny, in for a pound" moments where the player on the button had already determined that if he was calling the check-raise on the turn he was calling the river, no matter what.