World Series of Poker Europe

How to Extract Value? Flopping Top Set in a Five-Bet Pot

Jonathan Little
  • After flopping a set of aces in the @WSOP Main Event, @Jonathan Little tries to maximize value.

  • Making big hands is nice, but winning big pots is the real goal, as @JonathanLittle explains.

I have another hand from last year's World Series of Poker Main Event to share with you this week. It features the enviable situation of flopping top set in a hand that already saw big betting before the flop. However, it illustrates how even when making big hands, you still have to figure out how to win big pots with them — something I'm not sure I did as well as I could have in this instance.

It's still early, with the blinds 50/100 and the effective stacks still right around the starting stack of 30,000. After being dealt {A-Hearts}{A-Clubs} in the cutoff, I make it 250 to go, then watch a tight-aggressive player reraise to 750 from the button.

It folds to the tight-passive player in the big blind who surprises me by reraising again to 2,150. The combination of the player's style, position, and play obviously added up to a very strong hand for the BB, giving me the challenge to try to figure out how best to keep building a pot with my aces.

I elect to reraise again to 5,500. The button folds, the big blind calls, and the flop comes {A-Diamonds}{J-Clubs}{5-Clubs} to give me that top set.

That is lucky! But again, I'm further tested to try to get my opponent to keep putting chips in the middle, and looking back I think I missed value on the river. Take a look and see what you think:

I won the hand, but as I say I might have won a bigger pot had I played the river differently. It's important always to review your play — including hands you win — to ensure you maximized value.

Would you have played this hand in a different manner? Let me know in a comment below.

Jonathan Little is a professional poker player and author with over $6,200,000 in live tournament earnings. He writes a weekly educational blog and hosts a podcast at You can follow him on Twitter @JonathanLittle.

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