Come on, read know you want to...

OK, here's the scenario.

Full table, early in the game, blinds at 100/200.  Folds around to you on the button.  You look down to A-Q, and make s standard raise of 3.5 times the big bling.  Small blind folds.  Big blind looks down, thinks for a few seconds, and finally flat calls.

Flop, Q-Q-10. 

Big blind bets out a pot size bet of 1500. 

You raise to 3000. 

He shoves all in.

What do you do?

This comes up more often than you'd think in a no limit game.  And it is a big problem, I believe, because people don't understand what they actually have in their hand.  The conversation started yesterday when a friend, during a practice game, raised with 7-7-10 on the board.  I shoved all in over him, and said, and I quote "there's only one boat that can beat me".  His response was "well I can't fold trips", and he called.  I asked him "What if you had 7-7 in your hand, and a 7 on the board...what would you call that?"   He said "Trips".

Now the results of that hand are not important.  The discussion today is about the mentality of "I can't fold trips".  Here's a secret: You CAN fold anything. 

Doyle Brunson, in the amazing book "Super System", written ages ago, said that when you have a pair in your hand, and one on the board, you had a "SET".  When you had a pair on the board, and one in your hand, you had "TRIPS".  Now, if one of the greatest poker players in the history of the world is smart enough to have different words for the different hands, then he must have recognized that there is a giant difference between the two hands.

Now, since Super System was published THIRTY years ago, some things have changed.  And one of those changes I've noticed is that people rarely use the term "SET" anymore.  They just call everything "TRIPS".  So I'm going to give you the JP version, and hopefully this will help your game.

I call a pair in the hand and one on the board:  TRIPS

I call two on the board and one in the hand:  three of a kind

Since a pair in the hand is a much stronger hand than a single card in the hand, I give it the stronger name, TRIPS.  Having a 3rd card in your hand is simply three of a kind, and shouldn't be given credit for much strength at all, in my opinion, so I give it the weaker name.

Why is TRIPS stronger than a simple three of a kind?  Because the possibility of someone else having a stronger hand is reduced to less than 20%, on any random board.  The possibility of someone having a stronger hand when you have three of a kind is not reduced at all.  In fact, in most cases of three of a have no idea how strong or weak your hand is until you're turning over the cards after the river.

The example at the top is an actual example from Monday night.  The player with A-Q called, and lost to a full house, 10's over Queens, when the big blind turned over pocket 10's.  He also would have lost to Q-10.  Both 10-10 and Q-10 are hands that most players would call with in the big blind, if the button raised 3.5 times the blind with everyone folding behind him.  The other player simply didn't take into account what sort of hand the big blind would call with.  He put all of his tournament into TRIPS, when he actually only had three of a kind. 

From my own example, I won $700 one night in a tournament last year because of this very situation.  Under the gun limped.   Everyone folded to me in the small blind....K-8.   5 to 1 on my I call.  Big blind checks.  Flop....K-K-8.  Of course, I check.  Big blind checks.  Under the gun bets out.  I think for a bit, and I call.  Big blind folds.

At this point, I am absolutely sure of one thing:  The player under the gun has one of two hands.  A-K, and I'm possibly going to win a lot here....or 8-8, and I'm taking him out with  guns blazing.  The only thing that will keep me out of this hand is if an Ace hits on the turn or river.  Then, I guarantee you, I would have folded a full house.

Turn comes.....nothing.  He bets again.  Of course, I call.  I'm not taking any chance on chasing him out of this pot with a raise here, and I'll take my chances on the river hitting the 3 out Ace.  River, nothing, and of course, he bets again.  Now I know I'm up against A-K.  So I raise.....and of course....he shoves all in.  Hello $700!!!

He overvalued his three of a kind, and didn't take into account anything else.  Had he raised with A-K under the gun, like a real player does....he would have picked up the blinds and lived to fight another day. 

Of course, he spent a good while wondering how I called with K-8....because of course, it was my fault.  But that's a different topic.

In the end, the point today is to really consider how strong your hand.  If you have the third card of three of a kind in your hand, anyone else could have it too.  Especially if its a face card.  So if you don't pair your other hole card, why value it so highly?


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