Middle pair beat by backdoor straight

Went out in 1 hand in this 3-max, holding middle pair, shouldn’t have played any part of this hand from the limp to the all-in. I surprisingly was ahead until the river, with middle pair Jacks on the flop, V min-bets with 65o and a backdoor straight draw. I called the flop bet, V barrels again on the Turn, pot-size this time, and I don’t know why, I didn’t believe they had QQs here, so I raised them, they call, and then shove the river when they fill it, and by now I know no matter what I don’t like the outcome here, but I just pay it off so I can get away from this table as quickly as possible. In addition to the mistake of limping J8, then calling middle pair, and raising the turn, I can add not the turn bigger to the list of mistakes here. What say you?


Calling middle pair on the flop is fine as SB will have all sorts of hands given a preflop limp.

The turn call is a really trick decision and second pair becomes a pure bluff catcher. I would usually just fold with second pair but a call isn’t too bad.

I don’t like the raise on the turn. You give SB the odds to call with a open-ender and inflate the pot against strong hands. If SB has a strong hand, SB will likely bet the river anyways facing your min raise.

The river is definitely a fold. He will probably have 2-pair or a set in this situation.

It sounds like you already know what when wrong. We all make mistakes, and being able to recognize them is fundamental to improvement. J8 off is definitely a fold, even three-handed and in position. I know that there are LAG-type players that might disagree, but then you would have to play that hand as if it were AA. Raise preflop and raise again on the flop, if it went that far.

I don’t understand your flat call on the flop. If you thought you were ahead (no QQ), why not re-raise with your pair of jacks?

I am working on trying to eliminate this type of passive play from my game – it’s responsible for most of my losses. As the following hand review demonstrates, one mistake can ruin your profitability over the long run, so even if you play every other hand well, you are still behind.

I played a hand yesterday (9-max) where I had KK preflop in the CO position and was facing two limpers and a 5.5 BB open from a solid player in middle position. I flat called the open bet and so did the SB and the player immediately ahead of the original raiser.

The flop comes up 9d 4d 4h. The player who opened the action bets 11 BBs (about half the pot) and I re-raise to 22 BBs. I get called by this player, all others fold. The turn is Ah and the action checks to me. I check back, because that ace is a cooler. The river is a 7c and the original raiser puts in a 35 BB raise. Now, I know there is a good chance I am behind at this point, but I decide to call. I sometimes have a pathological need to see what my opponent has. Moreover, I think that I sometimes fold too often in these spots and end up getting pushed around by chip-rich opponents. My call here is bad, but it also sends a message to the table that “you better have it” (i.e., no bluffing) when you come up against me.

My opponent turns over As 9s and takes me for a total of 65 big blinds.

I doubt a stronger re-raise on the flop would have mattered, given the board texture and since my opponent probably felt that her two pair and ace kicker were good.

The lesson I learned was worth the price I paid. My key mistake was the flat call preflop. If I had made a proper 3-bet (to about 15 BBs) preflop, I probably would have won this hand.

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In posting this hand, I’m less interested in my decisions than I am in understanding the winner. How did they make the actions they made?

I opted to call the river because to me it’s not worth playing from the 2nd hand with a cripple stack, hoping I’ll somehow crawl back to win. Maybe better players can do this; to me it’s more efficient to dump the buy-in and find a new table and start over. I called, knowing I was going to lose, because I wanted to lose so I could close the window and start again. I am in agreement that it was not the “right” call to make if I was still trying to win the game at that point.

You are throwing away some of the most valuable learning opportunities. Short stack play is an important part of the game to master. When every action could be your last, it forces you to play your very best.

I was once down to 10 chips after the 3rd hand of an 1,100 seat real-money MTT, and came back to take 1st place. Yeah, i got very lucky 4 or 5 hands in a row, but I dug in and played my best, refusing to give up. Those victories are so much sweeter than easy wins.

Fair point.

Fold pre J8o, you could open at some frequency if you have reads that the BB isn’t defending enough, limping seems like the worst option.

Why are we raising ott?

I just don’t understand this thinking. You opted to play a 3 man SnG where starting stacks are 33 bb’s. If you fold the river you still have 21 bb’s vs 45 and 33 stacks, you could literally double into the lead on the very next hand. This would hardly seem like a crawl. Read “The Mental Game of Poker” by Jared Tendler.


You are right. I’ve played plenty of these 3-max games where I’ve made it to heads up, gotten my opponent down to their last blind, and then been screwed out of the victory by a string of 5 all in hands in a row. I’ve won a game or two in the same way. If I’m trying to improve my win rate I shouldn’t ever be deliberately trying to lose. That’s tilt for you.

If you want to improve your win rate, try to decrease your tilt rate.

I hope, for your sake, that you never play for real money. I could see you getting stacked and jumping out the nearest window. I mean, if this is the way you react to losing a few play money chips… egad.

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I’m trying to not tilt.

I’ve seen you claim its better to bust quick out of a SNG than hang on as long as possible and still not be ITM. I guess that’s not actually true.

I have never said that. I have said that I would rather go out of a MTT early than bust near the bubble, but I don’t purposely try to make that happen.

I have also said that I am willing to play a high aggro, high variance style at the start of a tournament, when the average skill level is at its lowest and my time investment is minimal. This is not the same as throwing a game away because someone caught a lucky card and I can’t handle it.

Here, I’ll help you keep things in perspective…

The next time you have a bad beat, say to yourself, “I’m sitting here in an air-conditioned house in front of an expensive computer, and just lost a few thousand play money chips. Meanwhile, 25,000 children starve to death each and every day because their parents can’t afford to buy food.”

If you want to cry, cry for them, not for yourself.

Thanks for clarifying.