When playing from the blinds, sometimes you get to see favorable flops with hands you wouldn’t usually play from any other position. It is easy to start seeing money sign when you hit a flush on the turn, but you must exercise patience if you want to see full value.
Scenario: You are nine-handed in a $200 buy-in online tournament. You have 1,500,000 chips with the blinds at 40,000-80,000 when the UTG+1 player who is the chip leader in the tournament raises to 160,000. It folds around to you in the big blind with K♣-2♣.
Considering Whether Or Not To Call Preflop
When To Call From The Big Blind
When you are in the big blind facing a min-raise, you should not fold any suited hands when your stack is between 15-25 big blinds. If your opponent raises larger, you can fold some of your weakest suited hands, especially if you think the raiser has a tight range. While K♣-2♣ is good enough to defend a min-raise with, it is not good enough to reraise or go all-in, so call and see the flop.
Action: You call and the flop comes J♠-J♣-7♣. You check and your opponent bets 120,000.
Facing A Bet On The Flop
The Pot: 320,000 The Board: J♠-J♣-7♣ Effective Stack: 16 Big Blinds Effective
Considering Raising With A Flush Draw
Most players continuation betting for small amounts do so with the vast majority of their range, so if they are betting with their entire range what should you do? Going all-in is not a terrible option, although by doing so you weaken your range when you make a small raise.
Given you have plenty of jacks in your range as well as strong flush draws and junky gutshots, making your range polarized, check-raising small is an excellent play. By raising small, you can still represent plenty of strong hands without committing a major ICM (Independent Chip Model) error.
Action: You raise to 320,000 and your opponent reraises to 600,000.
Responding To Your Opponent’s Unusual Reraise
While somewhat of a bizarre play, and your opponent may be doing this to induce a shove, their large stack size often suggests they may be trying to bully you. Shoving is certainly tempting, but some opponents may even find hero calls with hands as weak as ace-high.
With the excellent pot odds you are being offered, calling allows you to stay in to see if you hit a fifth club. Shoving may induce a few folds, but the aggression demonstrated by your opponent suggests they will call off against an all-in.
The Pot: 1,520,000 The Board: J♠-J♣-7♣-A♣ Effective Stack: 8 Big Blinds Effective
Inducing Your Opponent To Bet
The times you want to lead from a GTO point of view are when the turn increases your equity and expected value. Considering your opponent’s flop reraise, there will be no turn cards that are clearly excellent for you. With your exact hand, you want to do everything in your power to induce your opponent into either value betting with a worse made hand or bluffing, so checking is the only play that makes sense.
Action: You check and your opponent checks behind. The river is the 6♣.
Extracting Value On The River
The Pot: 1,520,000 The Board: J♠-J♣-7♣-A♣-6♣ Effective Stack: 8 Big Blinds Effective
By checking on the turn, your opponent suggests they have a marginal made hand like a jack, ace, underpair, or total junk. Your opponent would likely check through the river with most of these hands again, meaning you should bet for value.
Targeting your opponent’s potential ace, you can likely get full value by going all-in. Checking may induce a bluff, but the check-check on the turn makes that unlikely. While checking may be fine against especially aggressive opponents, going all-in is the play that will extract the most value.
Result: You go all-in and your opponent makes a crying call, losing with A♠-5♠. Your river value shove extracted the maximum from a marginal made hand that would have likely checked behind on the river.
About The Author
Two-time WPT Champion Jonathan Little is a powerhouse in the global poker community. He's authored several bestselling strategy poker books, and accumulated over $7 million in live tournament cashes in the last 15 years. Crowned 2019 Poker Personality of the Year at the Global Poker Awards, the American pro is constantly rolling out a stream of exclusive articles, videos, and webinars here on PokerCoaching.com.