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Tricky or Stupid River Play?

Even though I was tired, I ended up playing a little $100 NL at Full Tilt last night. After spending an hour fixing up my PT3 HUD, I had to give the new overlay a test run. The new HUD will take some getting used to but I think it'll do the trick. Unfortunately, my "test session" ended up being more or less break-even, meaning that I lost about $16 over 200 hands.

I had a few difficulties in finding good tables last night. And once I had found a number of great tables, I was unable to cash in on the action. Each of my tables had one or two LAGs and they were controlling the tables. Since I was tired and using an unfamiliar HUD, I wasn't really in the mood to "play poker" - I just wanted to grind for a bit and look at the pretty PT3 numbers on screen.

Whenever I'm in a grind-only mood, my numbers get really weak-tight. It takes me quite a while to start getting action. I'm able to steal a few pots here and there but getting called or 3-bet pre-flop when I'm holding AA or KK is next to impossible. I was able to horribly misplay AK in one hand and ended up folding on the river getting 5:1 on my call (while also clearly pot-committed). Maybe I'll show everyone the hand at some point but I'm not sure if there's any value in doing so. If you'd like to see a similar hand play out, go check out any ($0.01/$0.02) NL table and watch for a few orbits. I'm such a donkey sometimes.

I made one tricky river play in a hand though I'm not sure if the risk was worth the potential reward. Take a look at the hand below. I had a strong feeling that my opponent would both bet and call a check-raise on the river. For the record, I bet my made hands almost 100% of the time when first to act on the river. Checking OOP when a scare card hits is a sure way to see the hand checked down. In any case, I'm either brilliant or a donkey, the latter case being the most plausible at this point in time.

Full Tilt Poker
No Limit Holdem Ring game
Blinds: $0.50/$1
6 players

Stack sizes:
UTG: $172
Villain (UTG+1): $103.05
CO: $100.70
Button: $214.10
SB: $102.30
Hero: $117

Pre-flop: (6 players) Hero is BB with T♦ K♦
UTG folds, Villain calls, 2 folds, SB calls, Hero checks.

(Villain is loose pre-flop and pretty aggressive post-flop. No reads on SB but, as you've undoubtedly ascertained, he's not important to the retelling of this hand.)

Flop: 3♦ 8♠ 6♦ ($3, 3 players)
SB checks, Hero bets $2, Villain raises to $4, SB folds, Hero calls.

(I bet my draw and two overs into the Villain and SB. Villain's min-raise doesn't really tell me much. Since he limped pre-flop, it's hard to narrow down his range. I think Villain's capable of raising any pocket pair, set, top pair, middle pair, or a draw in this spot. But the min-raise seems to imply that he doesn't have a super-strong hand so I'm guessing Villain is more likely to have top pair, middle pair, 22, 44, 55, 77, or a draw.

I could have reraised the pot when SB folded since my flush draw and two overcards is pretty good. But the pot's too small to make a big move right now. My plan is to play my draw super-standard against this particular Villain.)

Turn: A♠ ($11, 2 players)
Hero checks, Villain bets $4, Hero calls.

(I don't want to lead out into the Villain and get raised off my hand though I'm sure this type of thinking is super weak. Have I mentioned that my "Won Without Showdown" stats are pathetic? Anyway, Villain's small turn bet seems to indicate either a draw or a follow-up to his flop bet with a pair or pocket pair. I don't think Villain has an Ace here or he'd probably bet more. Then again, my read on the opponent is probably not good enough to say anything with much certainty.)

River: 8♦ ($19, 2 players)
Hero checks, Villain bets $13, Hero raises to $40, Villain calls.

(The river card completes my flush draw but it also pairs the 8 on the flop. If my opponent was on a flush draw or if he'd flopped top pair, I'm going to get paid off. Rather than bet out and hope to get raised, I decide to go for the check-raise. Generally, this is a poor play since the Villain is not going to bet and call a check-raise in this spot unless he has a big hand like a flush or boat. Against this particular Villain, I also imagined that he'd pay off a check-raise with trip eights and possibly some worse hands.

Note that I go for a big check-raise in this spot. Check-raises are scary. Any check-raise is this spot screams "flush"; I doubt Villain puts me on a full house or quads. If the Villain thinks I'm bluffing, he's probably just as likely to call a larger check-raise as he is a smaller check-raise. Mind you, if I'd pushed all-in, I'm sure Villain folds everything except a boat or an ace-high flush.)

Final pot: $99
Hero showed Td Kd
Villain mucks 8h 9c

(My tricky play paid off. Even so, I'm unlikely to use this play very often (if ever) since it usually ends with the Villain checking the hand down and laughing at me.)

I've been watching many poker training videos lately and I've really got the urge to keep playing and improving my game (the hand above notwithstanding). I'll probably play at Full Tilt tonight, though I've been thinking about branching out and trying my hand at some of the other sites supported by PT3. According to PokerDominator, I'm a big-time losing player at Titan Poker: this is something I'd like to remedy by year's end.

Have a good one!

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