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Hand Review: Bottom Pair is Not a Premium Hand

Hand Review: Bottom Pair is Not a Premium Hand

Today I want to review a tricky spot from a $1,000 buy-in World Series of Poker event I played recently.

It was relatively early (blinds 150/300) and action began with a player I thought might be tight-aggressive raising to 725 from the cutoff from a stack of about 15,000. It folded to me in the big blind where I began with 20,000 and had been dealt {k-Clubs}{5-Spades}.

I discuss in the video below how I could reraise here as a bluff (and what sizing I should use if I did), but ultimately I just called and the flop came {9-Hearts}{9-Diamonds}{5-Hearts}.

Some players always lead in this spot, in part because we should have more nines in our range than our opponent. I checked, however, and my opponent bet 650 (about one-third pot).

Here I talk about the merits of check-raising (which would signal I have a nine or a draw) and how I don't necessarily need to check-raise big in order to get the message across. I did check-raise to 1,400, my opponent called to bring the pot up to 4,800, and the turn brought the {4-Hearts}.

I led for 1,500 this time and my opponent called once more, making the pot 7,800. The {a-Diamonds} then fell on the river giving me what I think are two options — checking with an intention to check-fold if my opponent bets, or betting big as a bluff.

See how I sort through these options and what I decided to do, and take a look at the showdown.

Given that my opponent did in fact have a nine in this hand, it's interesting to go back and see if I would have lost more hand I played it differently. As it turned out, I didn't lose too much despite trying to get tricky with that check-raise after flopping bottom pair.

Jonathan Little is a professional poker player and author with over $6,900,000 in live tournament earnings. He writes a weekly educational blog and hosts a podcast at JonathanLittlePoker.com. Sign up to learn poker from Jonathan for free at PokerCoaching.com. You can follow him on Twitter @JonathanLittle.

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