Flop trips, beat by flopped boat

I was doing OK in a MTT, when I ran into this hand.


Preflop: Blinds are 180/300 with a 30 ante. I have a good stack of about 20BB. I’m dealt A9o, and decide to bet 3BB, and get one caller. So far, so good. Just one player to beat, and I have cards that I feel good about doing that with.

The flop: Qd Ad Ah. Trip Aces for me! Great flop!

I consider that to call my 900 chip bet preflop, my opponent could be on an Ace.

I consider my position:

  • I’m first to act.
  • My stack is about 2x my opponents.
  • My 9 kicker feels decent.

Hands that can beat me right now:

  • QQ, AQ, AK, AJ, AT

All of those would be in my opponent’s range. In fact, he’s holding AQ, and I’m drawing dead from here on out. If he’s not holding an Ace, this is a scary flop.

Hands that could beat me by the River:

  • Suited diamonds
  • any combination of KJT to make Broadway
  • any pocket pair that improves to a set to create a [set] full of Aces, if I don’t hit Aces full.

Ways my hand could improve:

  • If A or 9 shows up on the last two streets.

Basically, my hand isn’t likely to improve, and there’s a lot of hands in my opponent’s range that could beat me, and more than a few ways Ax could improve to a hand that beats me.

I consider this.

I decide that the best outcome for me is for the hand to end quickly. I reason that if I min-bet and get a fold, then I was ahead all along. I assume my opponent is on an Ace, and that maybe I have a better kicker, but not sure, and if my opponent has AQ I’m dead, but if he has Ace with a middle kicker, maybe I can induce a fold. I decide to try a half-pot bet to see if I get a fold, and am called.

The Turn: My opponent now has not much left in his stack, only about 900 chips. At this point I figure he’s committed to the pot and will call all-in and I’m not getting him to fold. The Turn comes, Kh. Another scary card for me. Now AK would have me drawing dead, and there’s a Hearts draw on top of the Diamond draw.

At this point, I should have recognized that I was likely beat, stopped betting, and folded to any bet.

Instead, I min-bet, foolishly, and am called. This was pointless – he wasn’t going to fold to a min bet if he called my flop bet.

The River: 2h. I finished up with Trip Aces, no improvement from the flop. If my opponent is suited-hearts, I’m beat. If he’s holding AT+, or QQ, I’m beat. I check. My opponent puts the rest of his chips in the middle. I figure I’m likely beat, but to pay the last 300 chips to see what he was beating me with is worth it, at this point, on the long odds that he could have been bluffing this whole time, so I call, and see he had flopped a Full House, Aces full of Queens.

What do I learn from this?

One way to look at it is that you just are beat sometimes, and that’s that. No one in their right mind would ever fold 3 Aces, would they?

But that’s not good enough for me. I had flopped a very strong-looking hand, and I let that excitement delude me into thinking that I could win it, even as I was drawing dead all the while.

Reviewing this hand, all the warning signs were there, and I just ignored them – A scary flop, and he still called, and I still didn’t know where I was at, and barreled on heedless. So the only thing to do would be to limit my losses. As it was, the only warning sign that would have been loud enough for me to heed it would have been – maybe – if my opponent had shoved after the flop.
But I recognize that would have been a big misplay on his part had he done so and scared me off of calling.
When you flop a full house, the last thing you want to do is bet it like you flopped a full house. Good opponents will not be so stupidly obvious. You have to listen more carefully. So what could I do differently if I were in this position again?

  1. Preflop – should I have shoved and just bought the blinds? No. I’m pretty sure he calls a pre-flop shove with AQ. Maybe not. But if he doesn’t, I’m not getting enough value with A9 to get just the blinds; I want to get a call to a right-sized bet, and beat them here. I think my preflop was fine, and I got the results I was hoping for from it.
  2. On the flop, check instead of betting. A lot of times players will check when they flop trips, because the pair on the board will scare players who missed, and you can’t get them to put any more chips in until you’ve convinced them that you do not in fact have trips, and maybe their hand is still good. If my opponent min-bets to my check, then I can try a check-raise, and if he comes back strong I can reconsider the wisdom of continuing. Especially since I’m the first actor, I need to recognize that playing fast and aggressive will make me vulnerable to situations like this, where I run headlong into my opponent and impale myself on their hand. This is a risk of this style of play. Offsetting this risk is all the lay-downs I might get by playing aggressive from early position. But winning pots this way limits your winnings, since you’re forcing players off the hand before they can put any more chips in. Check-raising from early position is probably both wiser and more profitable. (Even factoring in that I’d still get beat in a hand like this.)
  3. Consider a leading with min-bet feeler to see where my opponent is. If they fold, ok, I wasn’t going to get any more chips out of them (most likely) anyway. If they call, proceed with caution (hope for A or 9 on the Turn, and check to the River otherwise, laying down if they bet big.)
  4. If I do half-pot bet the flop and am called, don’t put any more chips in, even if it means letting the hand go without seeing that I’m beat for sure.
  5. Bet the King on the Turn as though I’m holding AK, and get him to lay down AQ. If I’d shoved here, it might have gotten him to think he was beat. Especially if I had checked the flop, since then the Turn shove would have been a much larger bet to call. But a lot of RPP players holding AQ would probably call anyway, insisting that they be beat with a real AK rather than an implied one, even if it means going bust. I just don’t think very many mid-stakes RPP players can lay down AAAQQ very often. But this might have been that time.

Aftermath and recovery:

Losing half my stack here sucks, but it doesn’t completely ruin me. I’m still at 10BB, still in the middle of the leaderboard, and I’ve come back from worse. It’s definitely not the outcome I had hoped for, but there’s no reason to get tilty or give up from a beat like this. It’d disheartening to get a very good hand beaten by a monster, and you have to be resilient enough to handle beats like this, get over them and survive. Just tighten up, learn from your mistake, and wait for another hand to come that you can win on.

Losing just 900 chips (from the preflop action) would have been much better, of course. When I’m a better player, perhaps I’ll be able to do that.

How would you have played this hand? Did I learn the wrong lessons here? Did I miss anything?

With the way things work here at Replay, I’d be very wary of this situation. Check or a min-bet is how I’d handle that flop. I try not to consider trips to be very strong on a paired board. If a 9 came up on the turn or river, I’d probably shove and get destroyed. Oh well, at least there are still chips left to make a comeback.

This is just a cooler (bad luck for you), no need for all of the analysis, especially post-flop. Just take solace from the fact that your opponent calls with AQs, which is not a good play for them in the long run compared to 3-betting. Once you flop trips versus a boat, the hand is over and all of the chips are going in.

The only part to analyze is preflop. A9o is not a great hand to open from middle position (because players call too much), and your open size is too big. If somebody calls in position, they can easily have AT/AJ (or on Replay AK/AQ as well because nobody 3-bets). Plus, 3x is too large, it’s 15% of your stack with a marginal hand. I would either open to 2x (the outcome is probably the same unless your opponent shoves preflop) or just fold it preflop. Some might say that folding is too tight, but in full ring in a tournament with an average to above average stack, you can wait for a better spot.


Have to agree with @JoeDirk here but with a slightly different reason. You are attacking the blinds with that open size here but the SB and BB are short stacked. They really should have no flat calls at those depths to any open size. Their only plays are fold or shove. In a normal world, I’m ok making that call with A9s because people will shove wider. Here, shoving ranges seem to be pairs and big aces so A9 is almost never in good shape (and you would have to call their shove).

If you want to open it at these stack depths, 2.25-2.5 is fine. Just know which hands you will call the shove with and which you will open/fold. The hand postflop really is insignificant because his stack is effectively all-in anyway. Just look at it like he shoved and you called.

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Well, it’s been my experience that betting 2BB will get you about half the table calling, while 3BB will often cut that down to just 2-3 callers, if that, and that’s what I was hoping for.

You’re right though about the short stacks being likely to shove in response to my bet, though.

It’s weird, as I’ve been refining my play, I’ve seen my opening range tighten more and more, as I’ve moved away from a limp-heavy strategy into a raising strategy. It seems like this is trending toward the only “playable” hands being ones that I can take all-in, but I feel this is too tight and therefore too limiting.

Could be I’m too influenced by the style of play prevalent in tournament games on this site, but sometimes it still feels better to limp preflop rather than fold any hand I can’t feel comfortable raising with. If I can get to see the flop cheaply and either make a good hand or dump it, it allows me to play more hands. At certain times (depending on my history with the players at the table, and the blind levels) it seems better to play this way than it does to automatically fold “marginal” cards.

But where I’m at, “marginal” is, like, J7 or 89, and A9 is, to me, a “decent hand” to play, albeit not a “premium hand”. So either I’m flat-out wrong about that, or I’m playing a counter-consensus style with a wider range than many seem to be recommending. (Although this last week I’ve been folding my “Jack-X” hands and not playing 89…) I don’t think of myself as the best player ever, but I do OK, my bankroll is getting bigger over time, gradually. I’m actively trying to improve my game, but this is where I’m at this week.

I’ve been finding that when I try to play too aggressive, my mistakes penalize me too much, and I end up shortstacked after just 1-2 blunders. I’ll try betting 6BB with AA, and get called by 4 players, and beat by one of them. Or I’ll bet 3BB with A9 and get beat, like I did here. I am coming to realize that I need to consider a lot more factors than just the cards I’m looking at in front of me – table position, stack sizes, my opponents ranges all need to be factored in more than I have been.

@puggywug - everything matters in this game. Finding the right mix of hands by position with your stack depth and the players left to act … is why this game is so complex. Of course its also cruel, mean and evil because you can get all the things within your control perfectly correct and still lose to the guy who shoves 7/2o. Why do we do this to ourselves?

There is an interesting thing that occurs with loose-passive tables and that is they act like a defensive unit against an aggressor rather than as individuals. The traditional way to adjust for this is to be tighter and more value oriented. Whether you do that through limping or raising is up to you. In theory, raising is always higher EV because it gives you another way to win the pot (they fold). With players who are considering more than just their cards, raising also allows you to represent certain hands that they shouldn’t have. With players that are just considering their own cards, that doesn’t really matter.

As to “marginal hands”, some are more marginal than others. A9s is marginal anywhere earlier than cutoff or hijack to open, though some open it from anywhere. J7s is not marginal, its garbage. I will defend my BB with it to a reasonable open and may open it from the BTN if the blinds are nitty or weak but other than that, its unplayable, IMO. 9/8s is a fine hand, but only with deep enough stacks. At shallow depths, high-card value is more important than playability because top pairs become effectively the nuts. So while you could open 9/8s profitably with 100BB stacks, you no longer can with 20BB stacks.

Goofy game we play - enjoy figuring it out and have fun while you improve. Never forget to enjoy the ride! GL.