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Rivering a Straight on a Scary Board -- Check or Bet?

Jonathan Little
  • @JonathanLittle has to decide whether to try a value bet or check behind in this tournament hand.

  • Consider how you would have played both the turn and river in this @JonathanLittle tournament hand.

Here's another educational poker hand to consider, one that brings up a couple of interesting postflop decisions.

It was relatively early in a tournament with the blinds 250/500. With a deep stack of 90,000, I was dealt {6-Diamonds}{6-Spades} in the cutoff and open-raised to 1,300. It folded to the big blind who had about 50,000 to start the hand and he called.

I classified the BB as a "TAG / LAG" player, meaning he could sometimes be tight-aggressive and sometimes loose-aggressive — a designation I'll sometimes give to a player who plays generally well and can mix it up, making playing against him generally difficult.

The flop came {7-Spades}{5-Clubs}{4-Spades}, giving me an open-ended straight draw, and my opponent checked. With my marginal pair I bet for protection, making it 1,600 (a bit over half the pot). The big blind called, bringing the pot to about 6,000.

The turn then brought the {7-Clubs} and my opponent led for 3,200 — an example of what I meant by this player being able to make things difficult.

What would you do here? Would you call or raise in this situation? Raising has merit if you think your opponent's range is particularly draw-heavy, while calling makes sense if you think your opponent could easily have a premium made hand or if you are generally unsure about his range.

After some thought I raised to 7,400, a little more than a min-raise. Shortly afterwards I thought I might have raised more, though as I explain in the video below there are reasons why I like this raise size.

The big blind called my raise to push the pot close to 21,000, then the {3-Spades} fell on the river to give me a straight although that also put a third spade on the board. My opponent checked, and this is where I had to decide whether to check behind or consider a thin value bet.

Take a look at what happens and hear my thinking about it:

This hand reminds me of one I discussed with Daniel Negreanu on his Full Contact Poker podcast — a hand from a $25K High Roller in which Negreanu rivered a small flush and his opponent bet, and we discussed whether Negreanu should call or raise (and decided he should just call).

You can listen here to that episode, which also features Jake Cody and Mike McDonald.

Jonathan Little is a professional poker player and author with over $6,400,000 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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