I was reading CardPlayer.com during lunch today, and stumbled accross an article written by Lee Jones. The title caught my attention:
Calling on the river with the nuts
I got to thinking, why would I want to do that? So I read the article (posted below)...
“Come on, come on”
There’s nothing like seeing a card drop to the felt (be it real fuzzy padded stuff or just green electrons) that gives you the stone-cold nuts. Many of us playing brick-and-mortar poker have to practice not grinning from ear to ear, jumping out of our seats, or otherwise announcing our joy.
Even if we manage to control our facial expressions and body movements, sometimes our glee translates directly to our hand and we shove extra chips into the pot (or click the “Raise” button) without thinking. This is especially true on the river. I mean, it’s why some of us play poker — that feeling that we get when the draw that we’ve been waiting on arrives on the last card. There it is — the deuce of hearts that gives you the ace-high flush. That big pile of chips in the middle of the table is all yours; it’s just a question of how much more of your opponents’ money you can get into it before you have to show them your hand.
But sometimes you shouldn’t be so quick to put that raise in. “Huh? I’ve got the nuts on the river; why wouldn’t I put in a raise?” There are two reasons I can think of immediately; see if you can think of them before you read further.
SFX: Mary Chapin Carpenter on the stereo
OK — we’re back. Here are two examples: one in which raising is almost certainly wrong, and one in which it was correct to call, although it wasn’t obvious that was the right play.
Here’s the easy one: How often have you seen a player bet all in on the river, and the next guy raise? Now, everybody folds, the dealer pushes the second bet back to the raiser (since the bettor is all in for one bet), and the raiser turns up the absolute nuts. Nice hand, sir; well played. Let’s think about this. Sure, it’s possible that people would have come in for two bets cold on the river, but not very likely. Indeed, our hero probably shut out a bet or two that he could have picked up by just calling and letting other people into the pot. And if he got really lucky, maybe a raise would come in behind him … but I’m getting ahead of myself.
For our second example, I call your attention to the following hand I played online. I was in the big blind with the J 10. There was an early-position call, and it was folded to the small blind (SB), who raised. I called, as did the limper. The flop came a semiamazing 7 8 K. (The flop is shown here exactly the way the cards came out, because the first two cards I saw were the 7 and the 8.) For half a second, I dreamt of flopping an unbeatable straight flush. The king disappointed me only a little. I figured that I had at least 12 outs. The SB bet out, and I called, wanting the limper to help build pot odds for me. He cooperated by calling. The 5 on the turn was disappointing, as was the SB’s bet. But, we both called.
I don’t ever remember the 9 looking as beautiful as it did when it popped up on the river. And the SB bet again.
So I … Well, wait a minute. He just bet out again. That card should have terrified him — unless he had something like the A K (which would, of course, be great for me). But that was a monster under the bed (of course, I had a bigger, meaner monster in my closet). And surely the limper was calling with something.
So, I did something radical: I called with the nuts.
Imagine my delight when the limper suddenly raised! And then the SB, the original bettor, promptly folded. I said to my computer monitor, “I’m a genius!” as I clicked the “Raise” button. The limper called and showed A-6 offsuit; somehow, he’d stood all that heat to make a one-card straight that was far from being the best hand.
Now, what did the SB have? We’ll never know. But I imagine it was something like top pair — or maybe Q-Q that was obviously no good when he was called and then raised on the river. So, it’s not clear that I made the right play by calling (except in the rearview mirror, which doesn’t count). Had the bettor had the A K, I would have looked like an idiot when the limper folded and I collected one bet when I easily could have collected four.
So, it’s not always obvious what the correct play is in a situation like this. And it’s worth noting that if you’re not sure what to do, it probably doesn’t matter what you do. This is a corollary to the Tommy Angelo theorem, which states that the longer two groups dispute a fine point of poker play, the less it matters what you actually do in that situation.
But that’s true only if you stop and think before you raise — even if you have the nuts on the river.
Does this make much sense to you? I still don't agree with his thoughts. So I sent Mr. Jones and Email with my opinion..
I have to disagree with your article. While the idea is surely a great idea, and when it works you will make a few extra bets, but is it really truly worth it? How many times do you need a raise after you call to make up for your missed raises? I would have liked to see some mathmatical analysis of this idea before it is suggested to those who may blindly accept what they read. Your play in that situation is good because it worked out, but from the betting that took place you probably were not playing against good opponents. Lets take another look at it:
"For our second example, I call your attention to the following hand I played online. I was in the big blind with the J 10. There was an early-position call, and it was folded to the small blind (SB), who raised. I called, as did the limper. The flop came a semiamazing 7 8 K. (The flop is shown here exactly the way the cards came out, because the first two cards I saw were the 7 and the 8.) For half a second, I dreamt of flopping an unbeatable straight flush. The king disappointed me only a little. I figured that I had at least 12 outs. The SB bet out, and I called, wanting the limper to help build pot odds for me."
If the better was holding AK would he have bet out, or would he check raise? He almost certainly is ahead at this point. The only hands he can worry about is your hand, 56, and 9/10 (assuming he doesnt hit his flush). Depending on the style at the table a case can be made for either a check-raise or a bet out. If he is check-raising, he has to think that if you have a straight draw/flush draw you would bet at it.
"I don’t ever remember the 9 looking as beautiful as it did when it popped up on the river. And the SB bet again.
So I … Well, wait a minute. He just bet out again. That card should have terrified him — unless he had something like the A K (which would, of course, be great for me). But that was a monster under the bed (of course, I had a bigger, meaner monster in my closet). And surely the limper was calling with something."
In a good game your thoughts are spot on. However, remember this. The only way you are going to get the other limper to raise is if he has a high club. Imagine that he has been playing 34. Would this hand merrit a raise in that situation? What if the better did have AK and had bet at it again, you called, and the other person played his straight correctly you would loose a ton of money.
The only time i truly see this situation working is if the limper held the A. In fact, if the limper holds the A the first bettor should fold based on having a cold call and a raise, so you really only make 1 extra bet.
How often is that final person going to have what he percieves as a strong enough hand to raise with? Will these raises make you more money then the times that you just have a call behind you, or even worse a fold behind you? I dont think they will.
Feel free to respond either via email, or on my blog which I will post a link to your story to and my thoughts.
If he responds, I will be sure to blog about it. Hopefully he will respond directly on this blog so I do not need to be a middle man in the conversation. I open this topic up to anyone else who has their own thoughts to feel free to post them.