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Flopping Top Set In a Three-Bet Pot
Flopping top set is a fantastic spot to find yourself in at the poker table. Such a strong hand means your hand is best unless a straight or flush is possible. Improving to top set in a three-bet pot is a dream scenario because you stand to win a substantial pot. However, skill is required to extract as many chips from your opponent as possible.
Let us a look at a hand where we flop top set in a three-bet pot where were deep-stacked. The blinds are 150/300/50a, and we open to 800 with Jd-Jc from early position. The player in the cutoff calls, but the tight-aggressive big blind three-bets to 3,000. What is our play?
It is important to put the big blind on a range of hands. He is out of position and plays TAG so is less likely to get out of line here. He likely has a strong hand such as aces, kings, queens, and hands such as ace-queen and ace-king. We do not want to re-raise against that range. He could have some weak holdings too and is squeezing. Again, we do not want to re-raise and get him to fold those hands. Why? Because our jacks play well against his weaker holdings. Calling is the best play.
We call and the cutoff folds.
Flopping Top Set
The flop falls Js-7h-3c, and our opponent leads for 4,000. We flopped top set so are, obviously, going nowhere. Our decision comes in whether or not we raise or call and see the turn.
Our opponent’s continuation bet is fully expected. After all, he showed aggression preflop. What hands is he firing a c-bet into our top set? He certainly continues with aces, kings, and queens here, but also possibly ace-king-type hands. There are very few turn cards that we are worried about, so raising does not make sense.
We slow play our top set and the turn comes 9h. Our hand is almost certainly still best, but there is a flush draw out there in addition to a few straight draws.
The big blind fires a 6,000 bet at us. What is our play?
Slow Playing The Turn
Many players are tempted to raise the turn because they wrongly believe that is the best play. It is the best play against some opponents, but a deep-thinking TAG probably is not one of them
Raising the turn here folds out all but villain’s strongest hands. Do you remember the Baluga Theorem discussed here previously? Our opponent could fold aces or kings in this spot to a raise on the turn. One pair on the turn when you are raised sends alarm bells ringing.
Furthermore, calling here opens the door for a triple-barrel bluff from our opponent. Such moves are rare, but our hand looks a lot like ace-king, ace-queen, and maybe something like pocket eights or tens. Hands like ace-jack, king-jack, queen-jack are also in our perceived range. Let us call and see what villain does on the river.
A Perfect River
The river is the 2s which is a complete brick. We only lose if our opponent specifically holds ten-eight, which is highly improbable. The pot is 27,700, and villain bets 12,000, leaving himself only 11 big blinds behind. We have top set so we are not folding.
Should we move all-in with top set? Of course! Our opponent has the majority of his stack in the middle so him folding now is not disastrous. It is not like we chased him out after he committed a handful of blinds.
In addition, betting on the river and leaving some chips behind is increasingly common. It gives the illusion that the player will fold to a jam, leaving them something to play with. Everything points to ripping it in here with top set.
We moved all-in in the actual hand and our opponent called with pocket kings. Very few river cards result in us not shoving all-in. Had it been an ace, king, or queen, we still push here. So be it if they improved to a two-outer on the river. That is poker.