Tuesday, October 8, 2019

The Dreaded Value Bet

This was a Saturday afternoon session at Venetian in July.  I usually play a tournament on Saturdays in Vegas, but I felt my options were limited.  The great Binion's tournament I loved to play is long gone.  And the last few times I'd played the Saturday tournament at Aria, the number of players was disappointing.  Plus that tournament now starts at 11am.  I figured this close to the end of the WSOP, having seen how dead all the rooms I'd played in were that week, there was no chance for a decent turnout at the Aria.  So I played cash instead.  Note:  It turned out that they got a pretty decent turnout at Aria with a nice prize pool and I probably should have played over there.

But if I had, I wouldn't have this story to tell you of how I conquered my fear of the pocket Kings.  At least this one time anyway.

The Venetian still had the high hand promo going that I discussed here.  The danger of that promo is that games can get too nitty as players want to see lots of flops hoping to score a high hand.  You can find yourself at a table where four or five players are seeing every flop, a preflop raise is rare, and even the early streets are played without a lot of action as somebody with a draw to a potential high hand is trying to avoid ending the hand prematurely.  Of course, there are ways to exploit players like that.  And this table had a player trying to take advantage of the nits.  Let's call this guy Dallas.  Dallas rarely limped into a pot and when he did raise, he raised big, bigger than most anyone else at the table. He was definitely an aggro. There were actually a few other players at the table who liked to mix it up so this table was definitely atypical for the high hand promo game.

BTW, I'm not calling this guy Dallas because he was from Texas.  I believe he was from somewhere in the Midwest.  But he had moved to Vegas a few years ago.

I called $10 from late position with Ace-2 of clubs (it was sooooooted).  The flop was Ace-King-Queen.  I called $15 from the preflop raiser and we were heads up.  The turn was a blank and we both checked.  The river was another blank, this time she bet $15.  I wondered if she even had an Ace.  For $15 I decided to look her up.  It was a good call, she had King-Jack and I took it down.

I limped in with Jack-10 of diamonds and waited for Dallas's inevitable raise.  He did raise, but I didn't note how much his raise was.  But it couldn't have been too much because I called.  It turned out we were heads up.  The flop came Jack-10-5, but it was all spades.  Dallas bet around $20, maybe $25, and I called.  The last two cards were both blanks and he checked both times, I did likewise.  I showed my hand and he mucked without showing.  Probably missed a value bet there but all those spades were disconcerting.

Then I limped in with pocket deuces and called Dallas's raise to $17.  There were at least two other callers.  And I was feeling like Dallas would be more likely to pay me off if I hit my set than most players would be.  Well, I didn't hit my set, but I did pick up a nice draw.  The flop was 5-4-3, rainbow.  He bet something like $25 (maybe a little more) and I called.  An Ace hit the turn giving me the wheel.  This time I led out for $40.  He called.  The river was another 4 and though that was a bit scary, I really doubted that could have filled him up.  So I put out $70, but he quickly mucked.

I had been down well over $100 (from a $300 buy-in in this 1/3 game) but those two hands had me close to even, tho still down a bit.  I was actually thinking of stopping and heading for dinner.  So of course I looked down at the dreaded pocket Kings, always a sure way to kill my appetite.  After one limper, I made it $15, and Dallas and the limper both called.

The flop was 10-9-9, rainbow. It checked to me, and I bet $35. Dallas called, the other player folded.  The turn was a blank, a low card.  Now with unimproved pocket Kings, it's tough for me mentally to bet the turn.  Especially against an aggro who could easily raise.  A lot of times I would just check there.  But I forced myself to bet.  I put out $60.  Dallas called, without much of a thought.

The river was a 9.  That wasn't the way I wanted to get a boat.  Now I have to admit, my first thought was to check.  That's what I'd usually do.  Trying to value bet the river with the dreaded hand isn't easy for me.  True, I had a boat, but whenever you see three of a kind on the board you have to wonder…..could the other guy have quads?

So I almost checked.  After all, what could he have that I'm beating that he'd call with?  If he had a big pocket pair he might have three-bet preflop.  He certainly didn't have Aces, I was sure of that.  But if he had a medium or low pocket pair would he call?  Seemed unlikely.  And if he flopped a straight draw, he missed and would certainly not call. 

But I figured, there's just no way he has quads.  If he flopped trips, he would have raised before then.  I couldn’t see how I could be beat.  So I went ahead and bet.  I put out $70, thinking there was no way he was going to call. I did it mostly for practice.

He tanked, and then finally called, very reluctantly.  Unless he was really Hollywooding, I was good.  He mucked when he saw my Kings.  He said something lke, "I had a sucker hand.  I had to call."  I assume that meant he had a fairly big pocket pair, It's possible I suppose that he even had Queens and didn't three bet preflop because I'd played so tight.  Who knows?

All I know is that I was now in the black.  I was able to cash out up $140, which was very nice.  I guess a good chunk of my profit came from my successful value bet on the river.  I guess I need to do that more often.


  1. I'm betting he had some kind of hand with a 10 in it. A-10, K-10, Q-10, J-10, 10-8....something like that. I feel your pain there though. One of the biggest leaks in my own game is playing to timidly in those types of situations and missing value.

    1. Thanks, Jeff. Yeah, I suppose he could have had a 10, sure. I should have mentioned that.

      Value betting is hard. I just thought this guy was too aggressive to be trapping me, so I this time I went with. I was gonna get a dreaded pocket Kings story out of it, one way or the other!

    2. i wonder if Rob realized my brand new blog up tonight also talks of multiple losses with KK before it turned around?

    3. I haven't read it yet, Tony, but I'll be sure to check it out.

  2. With villian's comment about a suckered hand, I will heavily discount the rest of range, and favor JJ, followed a fair distance by QQ.

    I agree the J10 hand you missed at least one value bet. When you check behind on a draw heavy board, you will get called on the river by an aggro with a lot of middling hands, like mid pair, top pair weak kicker, etc. They may even call with Ace King unimproved.

    With the 22 hand, check call on river for value is a viable strategy against an aggro.

    1. Thanks for the advice, Pokerdogg. I honestly didn't consider checking the river with the 22 hand to induce a bet, but that may have very well worked.