Sometime you can call with a draw because your opponent will make bet-sizing mistakes on future streets.
Right before the WSOP this past summer I decided to play two long sessions of $5-$5 $1000 cap no limit to gather content for my series “100 hands of $5-$5” on CrushLivePoker.com. The hands were played across one weekend at the Hustler and Bicycle Casino.
It has been a long time since I have put in full sessions at $5-$5NL and right before these sessions I had actually played two five hour $25-$50NL shows on Live at the Bike. The level of play was obviously hugely different from the higher levels that I am accustomed to and the games reminded me a lot of the old $5-10 NL game I used to play at Commerce in the late 2000s.
Some of the largest mistakes that I saw during the weekend were bet sizing errors and the inability to fold hands. About an hour into my session on Sunday afternoon I got into a situation that demonstrated these types of blunders. The table was generally tight and surprisingly I was the youngest one playing, at 37 years old. I opened J♣ 9♣ from MP1 with seven other players dealt in. An older gentleman made it $50, with about an $800 stack from the button. I was not sure how to interpret this three bet as it was so small, but the price he gave me, even from out of position, was just too good to pass up and I made the call.
The flop came out 5♣ 6♣ 4♠ giving me a flush draw. I checked and my opponent bet $75. Usually at these levels a three-bet preflop represents a hand like TT+ or AK but players will almost always continuation bet headsup. So I was not sure if he had AK or an overpair and I elected to call. Another pattern that is quite common at these levels is the fact that the strength of the three-bettor’s hand really reveals itself on blank turns. People just do not double barrel that much as a bluff and will bomb to protect overpairs.
The turn brought in a 5♠, pairing the board. This certainly was a blank and I would expect an overpair to continue betting. I checked once again and my opponent now bet $100. Again this bet was fairly peculiar is it was not very large in comparison to the pot size. However, I reasoned that this particular player might be making a sort of “reverse block bet” on the turn, that is betting so that he will not have to face a large bet on the river if he checked back. He could do this with hands like 99, TT or even QQ.
So, knowing that it was unlikely that he just had AK I assumed that I was beat and examined the math. He bet $100 into a $250 pot so I had to call $100 to win $350 or 3.5-1 in pot odds. With a flush draw I only needed 4-1 in immediate pot odds and thought I would get paid something if I made my hand, so I called. I also recognized that one of my clubs might not be good if he had an overpair (giving him a full house) and that other clubs might bring in very scary boards like a 3♣ or an 8♣.
The river brought out the K♣ completing my flush. With the pot being $450 I bet $220 fully prepared to fold if I was raised. If my opponent raised he would almost always have kings full or the nut flush and there would be no way a call to his shove would be profitable given the pot odds. After I bet my opponent went into the tank, and I now knew that I had the best hand. After about two minutes he said “flush is good”, called and turned over A♣ A♦ and I scooped in a nice size pot.
Even though he did get some value from me on the turn, his bet sizing and his payoff on the river clearly made the way that he played the hand unprofitable. There are a couple of other interesting things to note with the K♣ falling on the river. Although it was a “blank” club (not putting out a straight) I did not think it was necessarily the best club for me as if my opponent held 99-QQ he might be scared of the king. For that reason I actually decided to size down a bit on the river. Really good clubs for would have been a 9, T, J or 2 and I probably would have bet larger.
Whenever you go for a flush draw on a paired board and you think your opponent has an overpair you do have to be hyper aware of the fact that you have reverse implied odds if you hit (losing more money when you make your draw). But at this $5-$5 level people are going to mostly play their hands straight forward and if you bet when the obvious draw completes and get raised you are almost always beaten.