Maximising Strong Hands

One question I always get from people is how do they maximize profits from their stronger hands. I don’t mean top pair with top kicker. I mean really strong hands. What do I mean? Let’s take a look at a hand that I was involved in during a $10-$20 limit game.

Up to this point in the evening, I had had a pretty laid back night. The cards weren’t really coming and my good starting hands just wouldn’t improve. It was basically one of those nights that drives an impatient player crazy. Playing solidly, and slowly losing money in trickles. I was up against players that I hadn’t played before which unfortunately minimized the effectiveness of my bluffs and the hands I did have just weren’t standing up in showdowns. I was pretty much ready to call it a night and go to sleep. In fact, it was my intention to leave before the blinds came back to me. Funny thing happened though, I didn’t click to leave the table in time and my big blind was posted before I had a chance to leave. I was only mildly annoyed. But then, I looked at my cards and lo and behold, I had pocket Aces in the Big Blind. Not bad for a hand I didn’t even want to stick around for!

An early position player calls the $10 big blind bet and the button player raises to $20. The small blind folds and I am forced to make a decision. Do I want this to be heads up or 3-handed. I was certain the early position caller would call a $10 raise, but if I re-raise in this spot, I might just push him off his hand. My decision? I re-raise to $30, the early caller, as expected folds but the button player re-raises me to $40. In this spot, if we were playing no-limit, I might go over the top again and push all my chips to the center of the table. But, as this was a limit game, the betting for this round capped at $40. What in the world could this guy have? Kings? Queens? We’ll find out soon enough.

The flop comes and its -8h -Kd –As. Yes, I flopped a set of Aces with no flush draws out there. Needless to say, I’m feeling pretty good about this hand. I decide to check with the intention of check-raising. No need to make this player fold if he had Pocket Queens and the 2 overcards scared him. Hopefully, he’ll think they scared me too. Incredibly though, he checks behind me also. Did those overcards scare him or does he think he’s setting a trap for me?

The turn is the Ah…Yes, another Ace giving me quads. At this point, I absolutely have the nuts and there is nothing that can beat me. I’m hoping my opponent has made his hand. Now there is a flush draw on the board as well as a full house possibility if he held pocket Kings or 8’s. I decide to check again. I know, you may be wondering why I didn’t bet out here. After all, this is limit. Well, my thinking was that if I bet out first, he might think that I was intended to check-raise the flop (which I was). Maybe this action will give him a false sense of security. So yes, I check. And just as I thought, he bets $20 which I raise to $40, he re-raises to $60 and I cap the betting at $80. There is now $240 in the pot.

The turn card is the 4h which puts a flush on the board. This being the river there is no point in just checking here as my opponent would likely check behind me. So I fire out a $20 bet and he raises to $40. What does this yo-yo have? Not that it really matters but still. I re-raise to $60 and he finally decides to just call.

With $360 in the pot our cards flip over and he shows pocket 8’s. Wow, he flopped a set also, was trying to trap me and when that last Ace hit on the turn, he made his full house that he must have thought was a winner.

What could my opponent have done? Well, nothing really, except thank the poker gods that this wasn’t a no-limit table because he would have been in a real world of hurt…

Until next time, may the chips fall your way.