To catch three of a kind in poker (three pieces, with one card in your hand) usually means that you are in an excellent situation, in which case you are in front in most cases. But such a hand can sometimes make you lose a lot of chips. In this article, we will try to explain how important it is to consider certain aspects, before putting your entire stack to the brim with such a hand. In addition to your book, the image you have, the typology of your opponent or his range, matters enormously.
To learn how to avoid traps, we will refer to a hand recently played by Jonathan Little. At 33, he is a very aggressive player, who generally reads perfectly the situations at the table. He has won over $ 6.7 million in live poker, and recently launched a youtube channel where he shares with poker lovers different views on what’s happening in tournaments or cash competitions.
Last week, he described a hand he had in an online tournament and took trips on the tower. Let’s see what Little had to say and then analyze together and if and where he went wrong.
Three of a Kind against a tight opponent
“This week’s hand finds me in a position to make a strong post-flop maneuver. But I have to be somewhat cautious, although I take threes; win, “our professional speech begins. Let’s see what exactly happened.
“The blinds were 200/400, with a door of 50. With a healthy stack of 35,000 sheets, I opened for 1,000, from the button. I had K cup – 10 cups. The small blind folded, but the big blind , who started his hand with a stack bigger than mine, about 50,000 chips, called for a three bet: he raised to 3,400. Many professionals call for a three bet when they are not in position, exactly what this did player here.
I had to decide whether to call, make a four bet or fold; and finally I chose the first option. With almost 7,500 chips in the middle, the flop came K rhomb, 7 rhomb, 2 clover, giving me the top pair.
My opponent made a bet of 3,500 chips. As is the case in such situations, against a tight opponent with many chips, with such a hand you want to play a medium pot. So I decided to just call and keep the pot within certain limits. The tower – K pica – gave me thrips, and my opponent bet 5,000 chips (about a third of the pot).
Even if I improved my hand, I still didn’t want to grow in value here, because my opponent could even beat me. I just called, the pot increasing to 25,000 chips and leaving me with less than 25,000 chips in front.
The river was Q down, and my opponent beat the table (check). Right now, I think I have the best hand most of the time, but I want to bet here? And if so, how much? “Little asks.
The right solution
No doubt Little has a much broader experience and understands poker at a different level than we do. However, from the data provided by him – a tight opponent who makes three bet pre-flop and attacks each of the following two streets – is there any reason to make a value bet on the river from Jonathan?
The justice of the pre-flop call with the K-10 against a “bunker” opponent would be worth discussing, but given his position, it is understandable that he wanted to see the flop. After the tower, our man “hits” thrips, but he is aware that he can still be in the back and only chooses the call variant.
As a result, is a value bet on the river necessary in this situation? Little saw a sign of weakness in his opponent’s check after the last book appeared. He may have aces or rolls and consider that he has invested too much in his hand. He does not want to be exposed to a re-raise from the opponent, so he gives up the aggressiveness shown so far. However, those two hands, and maybe an A-Q, are the only variants that the big blind can have and justify a value bet from Little.
In the other variants, Jonathan is either far behind (the opponent has A-K, K-Q or a pair of pickers or ducks) or has a hand that will not allow him to answer the bet for value. Can the opponent have a monster hand and prefer the check? Yes, because Little is an extremely aggressive player. He may well have stood on a color draw, blank. If he had bet, the big player would have thrown our man undoubtedly, as long as he was expecting a diamond for color. As a result, his check is not wrong to consider as a bluff catcher. Judging from these two aspects, we consider that a value bet here does not make sense. The opponent will more often have a stronger hand or one that does not allow him to pay. There are too few favorable variants in its range for Little, to justify a value bet (J-J, A-A and A-Q).
What really happened
Little went on his flair and considered the river’s opponent’s check weak. He hoped, more than sure, that he would have a pair and not give up on it. As a result, our man bet about 13,000 chips on the river and received an instant call. The opponent returned A-K for threes, but with a bigger kicker. “I’m sorry I made such a big bet on the river,” admits the American, somehow aware that he was far from the ideal approach.
In conclusion, although catching trips to the poker table is often a favorable situation, you have to be very careful about many other details: the opponent’s typology, his style and range, how many chips are in the pot, the equity he has, but also the logic of the hand.