This quiz question is taken from an actual hand played at the 2008 WSOP Main Event. The player is Jordan Morgan (that is a different Jordan in the photo) and he is faced with a difficult decision when his blocking bet on the river is raised.
Here is the situation again:
Image by Vedia via Flickr
You are down to $15,000 in chips from the starting stack of $20,000.
The blinds are $150-$300, and you are in the small blind with Kc-7s.
Everyone folds to the player in the cutoff position. He is a passive player and just limps into the pot. The button also limps. You decide to call for a half-bet. The big blind calls. There is $1,200 in the pot.
The flop is 7c-3s-2h. You have top pair with the second best kicker.
You bet out $600. After all it's doubtful anyone has a big pair, your opponents probably have calling hands like mid-rank suited connectors, and you only have to worry about a big blind special.
Only the player in the cut-off calls.
The turn is a Jd.
Now what? This kind of overcard is expected on a flop 7 high. You check.
Your opponent bets $750 into the $2,500 pot. What does that bet mean? It doesn't look like much of a bluff. Your opponent could have a monster or he could be making a small value bet with a hand like...what range of hands do you put him on?
It's such a small bet, you call.
The pot is $4,000. This pot is starting to get rather big relative to your chip stack. You don't want to be crippled with a pair of 7's.
The river is a 6s.
You don't want to make a call of a big bet, so to control the pot size you make a blocking bet of $1,000.
Your opponent raises to $3,000.
Have you figured out what hands your opponent may have?
Based on what you are thinking here, what should you do?
d) Move all-in
Jordan called the bet on the river since he couldn't put his opponent on a hand that beat him.
Let's review. His opponent called his small bet on the flop. When the Jack hit on the turn, he check-called a small bet bet by his opponent.
If his opponent had a better hand on the flop, he would have likely raised. For example, A-7 or a pair higher than the 7's He would not want Jordan to get lucky on the turn and he'd want to know where he stood on the hand.
When the turn was a Jack, his opponent bet like he had something but nothing he was too proud about. My thinking would be that he has a hand like A-3, A-2, or a pocket pair between 4's, 5's and 6's. A $750 bet into a $2,500 is one that tells me he fears a raise since his hand can't beat top pair. If he had a set, he may bet this small or bet more for value. And if he had a Jack, he would most definitely raise--but J with what other card to call on the flop?
When the 6s comes on the turn, I like the blocking bet. The raise is a small one which could mean his opponent rivered a big hand, but you have to make the call for two reasons:
1) you are priced in to make the call for another $2,000 into a pot of $6,900 and
2) you need to think about what your opponent is probably thinking about your hand! You bet out small which could mean you may only have hit second or third pair on the flop. You check-called the small turn bet which would confirm that thinking. And now you are making a small bet on the river which again suggests a hand like second or third pair was hit on the flop. In all those cases, your opponent may think he has you beat with A-3, A-2, pocket 4's or pocket 5's.
Well Jordan Morgan called the raise and his opponent showed pocket 5's to lose the pot. The answer was b to call.
You can't play poker always fearing your opponent's small bets means he has the nuts. In fact, it is usually better to think the opposite and take him at his word that he is not strong. Monster hands don't come along that often--well, at least not for me, so why assume that they happen more often for your opponents?