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Playing Pocket Kings Following a Tricky Flop

Jonathan Little

Today's hand finds me being dealt a premium hand — a big pocket pair — which is always nice. But sometimes those good starting hands become more difficult to play following unfriendly flops, which makes analyzing those hands more interesting and useful.

The hand arose in a $3,000 buy-in event at the World Series of Poker. The blinds were 75/150 with a 25 ante, and with about 13,000 to start I picked up {k-Diamonds}{k-Hearts} in early position and raised to 400.

The splashy player to my left called my raise, then a tight-aggressive player in the hijack seat three-bet relatively small to 1,350.

It folded back to me and after taking a look at the hijack's stack — he had about 18,500 behind — I started thinking about trying to get it all in before the flop and four-bet to 3,200. That chased the player in between, and the hijack called to make the pot 7,250.

The flop then came {q-Diamonds}{j-Diamonds}{j-Spades}, kind of a terrible flop for me. It's the kind of flop where if I bet and get a lot of action, I'm probably not in very good shape, but if I check and my opponent checks behind, he's probably not going to put more chips in the middle unless he improves enough to beat me.

Take a look at the video below to see how I negotiated this tricky spot, and listen to my analysis of my postflop decisions:

It goes by quickly on the video, but it went check-check on the river and after I showed my kings my opponent mucked. Fortunately, he didn't put me to the test for all my stack on the river — that would have been a nasty spot!

Notice how in the video I second-guess both my turn decision (where I might have checked) and my river decision (where I might have shoved). What would you have done in those spots?

Jonathan Little is a professional poker player and author with over $6,600,000 in live tournament earnings. He writes a weekly educational blog and hosts a podcast at You can follow him on Twitter @JonathanLittle.

  • Consider what you would have done with pocket kings in this WSOP hand played by @JonathanLittle.

  • @JonathanLittle has pocket kings, but being out of position on a Q-J-J flop causes some trepidation.

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