I played a fun hand in a live $5-$10 PLO game recently at the Horseshoe in Hammond, Ind., a casino I’ve been playing at regularly for most of the year. I had $2,500 in front of me while Bob, an amazing player who I have a ton of history with, had the seven-handed table covered. I was dealt under-the-gun and opened the action to $30. Bob called in middle position, along with the button and the big blind, and we were four-way to a flop of . The big blind checked, I checked, Bob bet $100, the button folded, the big blind folded, and I called. It was heads-up to a turn that paired the board with the . I bet $280 into a pot of $330 and Bob called. The river was the for the backdoor straight-flush possibility and I checked. Bob bet $500 and I check-raised to $1,600. Bob called and mucked after I showed aces full.
Why would I play my hand this way? Let’s break it down.
PREFLOP: A pretty standard open to $30 under-the-gun with aces. I don’t raise the pot of $40 just for meta-game sake. I don’t want the fish at the table thinking I necessarily have aces.
FLOP: I decided to check the flop mostly to disguise my hand. The players at the table would typically expect me to be the aggressor on the flop if I had aces.
I risk the board getting incredibly ugly on the turn if the action checks around, but that’s not as bad as you think. If I end up having to check call $100 on the turn, it’s not the end of the world because if the board pairs on the river, they don’t think I have the nut full house most of the time and I get paid off. If I miss the river then it’s a small loss, if they have me beat.
Bob ends up betting $100 and I opt to just call for two reasons. I don’t want to give my hand away and our stack sizes. If I check-raise to around $400 with roughly $2K behind, Bob is in a prime position to call me and put me in tough spots on later streets.
TURN: I led with a $280 bet into a $330 pot on the turn for a few reasons. First, I build the pot. Bob is a stone pro. He is capable of checking back huge hands here that he HAS to call if I bet. Second, by leading into him on the turn, my “story” doesn’t make any sense and it looks like a bluff. Most people check in my spot to let missed draws bet again.
RIVER: I decided to check to Bob on the river mostly because of my overall story. The story that makes the most sense in Bob’s mind is that I check-called with a draw on the flop, took a stab on the turn because I couldn’t call a bet on the paired board, and I gave up on the river. That gives Bob the green light to bluff at the pot as well as bet a lot of his range. If he checks back, I don’t mind letting the table see I played my hand this way; it gives me credibility for future hands that I play passively.
Also, since Bob did bet the flop into three players AND called me on the turn, chances are he has a big hand like sevens full that he’s going to bet for value almost every time.
After he bets $500 I am almost certain he has a big hand (I’m just hoping it’s not quads or a straight-flush at this point). I opt to check-raise to $1,600 and not the pot mostly to balance my range for the future, and try to let Bob’s curiosity get the best of him if he has a bad boat.
To be honest, it’s tough playing this hand poorly, especially when the other guy clearly has a made hand. You could argue that the money is getting into the middle no matter what happens, and that may be the case. But the lesson to be learned here is when you’re playing with skilled players you see every day, it’s important to get value while balancing your range, and that can be really tough when you’re deep-stacked and out of position. Just remember to keep them guessing. Good luck at the tables.