The Strange Turn Lead: Tournament Hand Analysis with Parker Talbot
After having a deep-but-not-deep-enough run in the $2,100 High Roller XL Blizzard on 888poker earlier this week — I finished ninth — I had an interesting hand from late in the event I wanted to share.
It's kind of a weird hand, to be honest, in which I might have even made a mistake or two. But I thought it was fun and it really made me think a ton in the moment when it came up over on the Twitch stream.
At the time there were 11 people left in the tournament, and I was ninth in chips out of the 11. The top 12 players made the money, so we can't be mad — everyone knows the cardinal rule of tournament poker!
At this point the blinds were 2,000/4,000 with a 500 ante, and I had just over 95,000 to start the hand — almost 24 big blinds. We were short-handed — six players were at our table — and it folded around to "p000cket000" on the button who opened for about 2.2x.
"p000cket000" is an aggressive, good, solid high-stakes reg. He also had me well covered with over 200,000 to start this hand.
It folded to me in the big blind with and I called, and the flop came . So I had second pair, a backdoor flush draw, a crummy backdoor straight draw, and that's about it. I checked, and my opponent made a standard continuation bet for about 30 percent of the pot.
I briefly considered check-shoving, actually. If we know we're up against a player who c-bets a crazy-high percentage of the time (e.g., 90 percent), of course we could go all in with this. But "p000cket000" c-bet a reasonable percentage of the time, and so I just called.
There was just over 40,000 in the middle when the came on the turn. That's when I elected to do something a little bit different. Instead of checking, I decided to lead with a turn bet.
My logic was I didn't really want to check-call a second barrel with a lousy gutshot and second pair. But looking back on it, I think I just should check, anyway. It's not that big of an issue to check-call one more street with second pair. He's going to barreling with lots of bluffs, and I'm not really that scared of him doing so.
At the time, though, it felt like I didn't want to check-call a big bet, and when he does give up on his bluffs I wanted to charge him a little bit and protect my second pair. I still did have that gutshot draw, and I could still do some interesting things on certain rivers like turn my hand into a bluff and get him to fold one-pair hands.
So I led for almost 13,500 — about one-third the pot — and he called. That made the pot about 67,000, which was just a little more than what I had left behind.
The river was the , making the final board . Besides completing the spade flush draw, that card also completed two four-card straights, giving me the donkey end of one with my deuce.
I decided just to check, because after thinking about it for a while I couldn't find a single bluff in my entire range after having just led the turn. Everything gets there — every speculative hand with which I might have bet the turn. Even two random spades that didn't check-raise the flop has made a flush, and literally everything else is connected in some way so that the absolute worst I could have might be two pair.
I opted to check, then, assuming that since I had no bluffs, I should try to leave him open to try to bluff me. I just intended to call down with my wrong end of a four-card straight on a three-spade board.
Again, looking back, I think I should have bet small here, and tried to get his exact hand to call — he had . So he had top pair and was ahead all along, then the river gave him a second pair and me the straight. But I checked and he checked behind, and I won the pot without getting anything extra on the river.
I think if I had bet small (like 15,000-ish or 25 percent of the pot) and looked like I had a weak two-pair hand, I could potentially have gotten him to call with his two pair. (Then again, I'm not sure what I'd would have done if he then jammed!)
But honestly I don't really know. I think my turn lead was really strange and in a way messes up the entire hand. It makes everything confusing.
I find these situations generally only happen in the higher-stakes tournaments... or when you do something strange like lead a turn when you really shouldn't!