October Hand of the Month - Discussion

We got some fantastic submissions for the month of October, but we could only choose one …

Congratulations to big7slick, October’s 500k winner! This hand piqued the interest of our Poker Ops team, and our blog article is now up about it here:


Take a look at why we wanted to discuss this hand. We pose some questions for discussion in the article, and we’re eager to hear what you have to say. How would you have played out this hand?

We’ll be awarding five participants with 50,000 chips on December 5th. And don’t forget, we’re accepting entries for November’s interesting hands!

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This was definitely an interesting hand in how it played out, but I have qualms with many of the decisions that led to showdown. Let’s take things action by action:

Not sure what Chuck55 or jimbil are holding, but in early position facing seven other players, you need to bet or fold. Limping weak holdings is throwing away chips - it’s going to be tough realizing your equity out of position if you hit the flop, and you’ll probably have to fold facing substantial aggression from players after you.

When it gets to grant654, he’s in an interesting spot. Facing two limpers with low-to-mid suited connectors, again, bet or fold would be the way to go. I’d probably fold 30-50% of the time, a bit more often early in a tournament, and bet big - probably around 5BB, or 200 chips.

I can’t comment on flogjr’s hand, but similar to the earlier players, he needs to bet big or fold. Instead, he throws away his chips.

Area51mutant is in a similar spot to grant654, except he’s going to be in position post-flop. Still, with so many people entering the pot in front of him QJo probably isn’t the best hand. Personally, I’d let this go.

justducky folds off his small blind - probably the correct decision, and the first one I’ve seen so far.

In big7slick’s shoes, I like the check. Betting into so many people would inflate the pot, and it’ll be hard to play postflop, since 3’s will only rarely improve, and you’re out of position. Checking here disguises the strength of your hand. With a more premium holding (tens or better, AQs, AK), I’d bet somewhere around 8-10BB, but with 3’s a check is your best bet. Nice job.

big7slick checks, as he should with all his holdings. This could induce other people to build a pot behind him, which he can then check-raise. I’d be careful about constructing a leading range here, since he could have a lot of potential straight draws - QJ, QT, JT, J7, T7, T6, 76, 75, 65. If he’s betting all of those draws, along with his sets, he’ll be way too draw-heavy, and put himself in a tough spot should anyone re-raise behind.

For that reason, I’m not a big fan of chuck_55 leading out here. I don’t know what he had, but if it wasn’t strong enough to continue on later streets, he probably should have checked his option.

Jimbil wisely folded.

In grant654’s position, I would’ve like to see a re-raise to around 800. He has an outside straight draw, and a backdoor flush draw. There are 9 such hands he could have (JTs, T7s, 76s), with 9 sets (three combinations each of 3’s, 8’s, and 9’s) that he could be betting for value. That would put top pair or an overpair, or even two pair hands, in a tough spot, while driving out most of the other draws.

Area51mutant should probably let this one go at this point. He’s facing a pot-sized bet with a call, and there’s still a player left to act. He has an inside straight draw with no flush potential, and two overcards. There are only four turns that will make him feel good (the tens), but it’s possible that one or more of them is held by one of the earlier actors that is trying to make their own straight, and three of those four will bring backdoor flush potentials. With the action in front of me, I’m not even sure I’m still good if I pair up one of my overcards. QJo should have gone into the muck here.

I really like big7slick’s decision to check-raise here. He has one of the strongest possible holdings on this board, and there are a lot of potential drawing hands, as mentioned before. However, if he’s going to check-raise, he needs to bet much heavier. A min-raise does basically nothing - nobody should be folding off their equity in the face of a 20% pot bet when they already called a much larger (proportionally speaking) bet. I’d raise to somewhere around 1100, setting up a turn/river jam.

Everyone else calls, as they (probably) should given their earlier decisions, and we go to the turn.

Things get interesting here. There’s now a lot of straight potential on the board, a backdoor diamond flush draw is brewing, and big7slick still holds bottom set.

I don’t hate big7slick’s decision to lead out here, but I do question the size. His stack is less than the size of the pot - just get it all in, since you’ll be calling off any re-raise anyway. With the change to the board texture, I probably would have checked, calling any raise, including a jam, since I’d still have decent equity with my set.

grant654 should definitely be re-raising all-in here. He has the little end of the straight, and his hand won’t be getting any better, so this is the best he can hope for. Well, that, and that nobody behind him has him beat, and that the board doesn’t pair and turn sets into full houses…

Ditto Area51mutant. He’s got the nuts (at this point); an all-in call is trivial.

Facing the re-raise, big7slick is still right to call. He’s got the equity to make a boat and invalidate the straights that are out there, and there’s always the possibility that someone was trying to pick up the pot with JT or QT that made top pair.

This hand brings up an interesting point about tournament poker in particular, and poker in general. You can’t be afraid to get it in when you’ve got the best hand, even if turns/rivers may give the pot to another player. At the turn, everyone should be putting their stacks in the middle. That means that two players are going to get busted out of the tournament. It sucks, but at the end of the day, you’re playing to win, and give yourself the best possible chance to double or triple up and make a run at the leaderboard. You can’t do that when you play scared. Play with appropriate bankroll management (don’t blow your entire bankroll on a single high-stakes tournament) so that you can ride out the variance that is inherent to tournament poker.

On the flip side, when you don’t have the cards, get rid of them. Quit setting chips on fire by making weak preflop decisions, and compounding them with bad postflop decisions. I’m looking at you, Chuck55.



On the flop, I think it would also be quite good for big7slick to lead out with a bet with bottom set. If there had been a preflop raise I would agree and consider it normal to check to the preflop raiser with the intention of check-raising. Given that it was a limped pot though, it’s not certain that there will be a bet from anyone else, and since bottom set is a strong hand that’s vulnerable to draws then it’s good to start getting chips in the pot now.

That said, I think going for a check-raise is also fine. Once someone else bets, the check-raise size needs to be much bigger. Given that another player already called the bet, I think it needs to go to perhaps 1100-1200. Check-raising to 520 is giving anyone with an open-ended straight draw direct odds to call. 1100-1200 is on the large side, but with the bet and call we already have two players saying that they like their hands so it’s time to extract some value.

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Interesting and lucky hand!

I am surprised the big straight holder didn’t push that bet higher after the turn when they were the obvious high hand and not let the other players see that river without paying for it.

Small straight probably would have folded.

Trip 3s looking for quads is low odds but a FH possible is 28%. With that straight showing I don’t know if I would stay if big straight had bet his hand.

You were fairly even stacked and hard to fold trips with a card coming so I probably would have played it out.

Good hand!

What else would go in your flop lead range as big7slick? All of your sets? Top two pair? Bottom two pair? Any of your straight draws? All of your straight draws? It’s going to be tough to build a balanced range between made hands and high-equity draws. Additionally, if you’re betting one of your strongest hands (88 or 99 could arguably be a preflop raise), what does it mean when you check? Should you check-fold everything you don’t lead?

In addition, leading out loses value from people betting behind you. If you’re first to act, and you lead, will chuck55 re-raise? Do you just get a sea of overcallers? You want people behind you - who probably have much less equity than you - to take a stab at the pot, then fold to your large check-raise. If they fold straightaway to your lead, you’ve lost that value.

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It was a reeaallyyy lucky hand. It wasn’t that hard to guess that someone had a straight, but that he still calls is a masterpiece of a play. Well done

Just one of those lucky hands that was decided by the River card.

I agree that it’s hard to build a balanced range between leading and checking, especially since we checked the big blind and have a hugely wide range to start with. However, it’s a 6-way limped pot - it’s a fishy situation where I don’t necessarily need balance. I don’t think most of the other players in this pot are thinking about how weak my checking range might be.

I would expect to get calls from 9x, 8x and a lot of draws including gutshots (people love to chase their draws). If I am betting big enough then they are making a mistake by calling.

I would expect to get raises behind me from hands like JT, 98 or the occasional overvalued single pair like A9 or slowplayed big pocket pair. Then we get to lower the boom and shove. If we run into a bigger set then, well, they were getting all our chips anyway regardless of the line we take.

We have close to the nuts right now so I am trying to get huge value from weaker made hands. There is more value to be had there than in trying to induce bluffs. Inducing would be a better strategy for middling made hands like say 97 where it’s going to be hard to bet for value and get called by worse.

You know, I’m one of those guys who gets so excited about a straight of any kind that I lose all track of time and space and get the champaign ready without any thought of a better hand. With that Jack high straight I would have been all in faster than you could say full house.

This hand truly demonstrates how trusting your instincts and/or taking risks can pay off well. If I was in the position big7slick was in; I wouldn’t gamble getting kicked out of the tournament especially with a HIGH threat of a straight which occur in the game.

However, this hand teaches you this how dangerous and devastating the river can be in poker which I know all too well from hard experiences. Whether it was luck or stupidity by big7slick; the only thing I can say is WELL PLAYED!

1st mistake, is so many ppl limp’n preflop … a pocket pair is worth a raise there. Next, Slick checks trips, and see’s a med bet and 2 callers ahead, and only min-raises. I’ll assume Slick wanted to fatten the pot, so he was greedy rather than protecting his hand. On the turn the board puts a str8 out there which 2 ppl hit ( other than Slick ) yet he choses to bet out & only 1/2 the pot , knowing he will call any raise because this puts him in a “pot committed” situation… Why not ship-it right there and hope noone hit the str8, and take your nice fat pot.

The worst possible thing happens, both str8s re-raise or ship-it , Slick calls because he’s pot committed, and gets the miracle on the river to save this mistake filled hand…

In this case : ( opinion ) aggressive (sloppy) play was rewarded, plain/simple.


The limping preflop is not good, but it doesn’t look like anybody has a particularly strong hand, especially given how difficult it is to get folds preflop, so I won’t focus on that.

On the flop, I like the check from Big7slick, simply because I don’t have a leading a range here. There is really no need to be balanced, but I like to give others opportunity to open the betting and come back with a check raise, rather than give them a chance to flat a lead. I do not know what chuck_55 is betting, but if he is folding the next street then he should not be betting the flop, at least not for pot. 9x is the only thing that makes sense to me.

Do others think it is ok for grant654 to call with the lower end of the open-ender? The math says it’s ok if he believes that others will call behind, but calling a pot-sized bet with the bottom of an open-ender and a backdoor flush seems -EV in general. I would not want to be in that spot, and given how the pot is getting inflated, I think it may be best to just let it go. Maybe he can turn his hand into a bluff and come back with a big raise (jam), but a flat just does not seem profitable.

Area51mutant must fold here. He is getting an ok price with overcards and a gutshot, but given the action there is no reason to believe that a Q or J are live outs, so he needs exactly a ten. This is a pretty easy fold.

I like the check-raise from Big7slick, but as others have said, the sizing is way too small. This is the real inflection point of the hand, and basically puts him in a position to potentially lose with what is almost certainly the best hand by giving his opponents a great price to continue. The pot is 1040, and he has 2700 behind, so I think that with 3 opponents having called a pot-sized bet, an all-in bet is good here. He is likely to get at least one caller who has something like 89 or JT, or maybe a 9 with a good kicker or even a foolishly limped overpair like TT/JJ. Of course he gets called by 88/99, but there are not many combos and the pot is already so large relative to his stack. It gives him a chance to get maximum value without any tough decisions. At the very least this check-raise should have been to 1000.

On the turn, Big7slick could be feeling sick to see 3 straight on the board. But, realistically, the only straight draw that improved was 76 because QJ or J7 were gutshots that should have folded, so given the stack sizes relative to the pot, it makes sense for everybody left to be all-in, and the river worked out for him.


yes interesting hand

i believe Big7slick played it well… what i would question is with straight friendly cards on the board and two villians going all in… trip 3s look pretty grim… i would have folded
odds are extremely slim to hit a full house on the river

Actually, he’s getting pretty good odds on his turn call. There are ten cards that could pair the board, and 46 unknown cards in the deck (not knowing his opponents’ hands), so he’ll make a boat about 23% of the time. Since he needs to call far less than 23% of what will be the final pot, calling is a +EV play.

His initial turn bet committed himself to the pot - he’d always be getting the odds to call an all-in by either or both of the players behind him. That’s why I recommended going all-in on the initial turn bet, if he decides to lead out rather than check his option. That would put much more pressure on the other players, and possibly get a fold out of a higher set or the low straight.

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I wanted to make a big pot, and have them call. I know most people make the mistake of calling a check raise if it is for the same amount as the initial bet. I was betting the turn no matter what card came, as part of my all in strategy. If I bet all in on the flop someone might have folded, and then their weak hand would not have been fully punished. Since I acted first, I could not know for a fact whether or not they made the straight on the turn, so if I do not bet, I risk giving them a free card. Thanks everybody for your thoughts and tactics!

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Thanks to everyone who participated in this discussion! It was great to see you all dig into this one a bit more, and a special shout-out to big7slick, who submitted quite an interesting hand.

I drew five random participants from the thread, and each of you will have 50,000 chips added to your bank. :slight_smile:


Our November Hand of the Month discussion will be going up shortly. I’m excited to hear what you have to say about our latest monthly winner!

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thank you very much

that is so sweet