Alec Torelli is a poker professional originally from California, but travels the world full time with his wife, Ambra. Torelli has over $1.5 million in live tournament earnings (including two World Series of Poker final tables and two World Poker Tour final tables) as well as over $500,000 in online tournament earnings. Outside of poker he and his wife manage a million-dollar online business which travels the world with them.
In Torelli’s “Hand of the Day” series he analyzes hands played by him and submitted to him by others. Today he reviews a cash game hand sent in by a reader. The hand features a commonly-faced scenario — a player turns the nut flush, but then faces a tough decision once the board pairs on the river.
John is playing in a local $5/$10 game in Manila when the following hand goes down between his two friends.
The Hero opens UTG to $50 with and gets called by two good players. The flop comes . Hero bets $160 (near pot) and gets called by the initial caller.
Hero then makes the nuts on the turn when the rolls off. He bets $190, gets raised to $425, reraises to $925 and gets called.
The real decision comes on the river when the dreaded comes.
Can we still shove for value? Should we check-call? Check-fold?
Watch what happens in today’s “Hand of the Day,” then afterwards read on for some further analysis of that tricky river decision.
The correct decision on the river is very player-dependent. The key to making our decision is determining whether or not our opponent is capable of raising with two pair or a set on the turn, and then calling a three-bet. Most players aren’t.
Why wouldn’t Villain just raise the flop with or instead of waiting for the flush to come on the turn (especially with another player left to act)? And why raise on the turn when no worse hands call and there is a risk of getting three-bet?
For this reason I think that our hand is likely to be good on the river, lending credence to shoving. That leads us to another question — will our opponent call with worse?
Again, answering this question requires us to make a player-dependent read. Some players will make a crying call with a flush here, even if they “know” they are beat. They simply don’t have it in them to fold. Meanwhile, against a competent player who truly understands that the Hero cannot be bluffing and a low flush is never the best hand, I will opt to check.
In the latter case, I’m also usually check-folding, since that same Villain will never:
- bet a worse hand for value
- bluff (because there are no bluffs in his range)
- turn a low flush into a bluff (since it’s still possible that the Hero has a full house, and the only hands he gets to fold are higher flushes, a play which is simply too ambitious)
Let’s see what the math says.
On the river, the pot is $2,335 and the effective stacks are $1,065 or not quite half the pot. It’s important to note that the only flushes our opponent could have are , (which may not call preflop), and . With only three combos of flushes, it’s imperative to know with a high degree of accuracy if he is capable of having two pair or a set by the turn, because the math says it’s a lot more likely. If is in his range, then there are 12 combos of full houses he can have, meaning it’s four times more likely he has a full house than a flush!
Second, even if he has all the combos of flushes (which he doesn’t) we still only have 20% equity when he shoves. Since the odds we’re getting are 3,400-to-1,065 or 3.4-to-1, we need 23% equity to justify calling. In other words, this will be a marginally winning call at best.
Given the great pot odds and the spontaneous nature of many opponents, I’d call versus an average player. But against better hand readers and more conservative players, I would make a hero fold here.
For a much more in-depth look into my thought process that I use during each hand I play, pick up a copy of my new book The Four Steps to Beating Anyone at Poker. In it I share the blueprint I use which will guide you through making the correct decision each and every time you are faced with one.
What would you have done in this hand? Share your thoughts in a comment below.
Want to be featured on future episodes of “Hand of the Day”? Simply submit your hands to Alec here. Also check out “AskAlec,” a new series on YouTube where aspiring poker players can send in their questions and get feedback.