How To Play Top Set

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Thomas prefaces this hand by saying, “I played this hand on a fullring table in our home casino, blinds 1/2. My stack was 350 and I was in the straddle with eights.” For those of you that aren’t quite sure what a straddle in poker is, it’s essentially a secondary big blind and it essentially has the effective stacks of the game. I would normally suggest not straddling, particularly under the gun, it doesn’t really do too much. So unless this was kind of a mandatory, the entire table is going to straddle thing, chances are I’m not totally on board with this.

But in this exact situation there’s a call, another call, another call, and hero decides to check. In this situation, Thomas says, “I decided not to raise because the table was fishy and they often limp/call. I thought if I raised to 20, I’d get minimum 2 callers and I don’t want to play such a big pot pre-flop with eights.”

Overall I can be okay with this check. If you really do expect multiple callers, it’s going to create a really awkward SPR. If you’re really uncomfortable in that situation, just checking here and going to the flop is going to be just fine in my opinion.

In this exact situation, we get lucky and flop a set, there’s a check, check, hero decides to bet. I like the fact that we’re betting. I’d probably just pot it here, to be totally honest, I don’t really see any reason to go three-fourths as opposed to just potting, but whatever. We end up facing a check raise from the big blind.

So at this point Thomas says, “I know the player in the big blind, we’ve played a lot of hands together. I think he’s a passive fish and not a creative or aggressive player. I thought he would maybe protect his five/six or smaller set from the flush draw and at this time I have the image of a tag. I haven’t played many pots, but if I played a pot, I was aggressive and I won it most of the time.

I decided to call the raise to 30 and call every bet on the turn because I thought most of the I’m in front against his range and if he flopped a straight, it’s bad luck and I’ve got a few outs.”

So what I want to do real quick is pull out Equilab and just proof this real quick. If we pull out Equilab, plug in our hand, plug in the board. Let’s assign a range for the big blind of what we think he would do this with. Let’s give him sets, let’s give him mid-straights. Because this was a straddle pot and all he had to do was an extra big blind and because we don’t think he’s a great player. I think we could easily assume that he would have hands like 5/6 off and also 8/7 suited and 8/7 off. Then I also want to assign some monster flush draws, so let’s do a suit selection on 4/3 suited, 5/4 suited, ace/4 suited, and 6/4 suited. Let’s just give those in spades, so these are the pair in draws.

A Poker Range

Even if he is passive, I still assume he’s going to play those at least aggressively. Let’s give him an okay on that, evaluate it, notice that we are still crushing his range here.

I’d say that if we did come over the top here, he’s probably going to continue with all of those hands as well, I think that makes a lot of sense.

Because of that, this is the kind of situation where I don’t really want to call, I just want to come over the top and pile as much money in the middle as quickly as possible. I think that we’re beating his range, I think we’re going to continue beating his range when he continues our raise, which is essentially an effective shove because if we go to say 100 and he shoves, we’re going to snap call it. This is just the kind of situation where I wouldn’t play the “call here and then guess on turns” game. He seems to like his hand now, I think there are plenty of second best hands that can and will continue so I’d really like to see a 3bet for pure value here.

That’s really the main inflection point in this hand, in the actual situation, hero decided to call. The turn was a ten of spades and he faces a shove from the big blind.

This is pretty uncomfortable and a little bit weird, right? Because we assume that the big blind wouldn’t be check raising the flop with too many spade combos, given the fact that he is passive and hits also a card that now blocks out some things that he may have check raised, like he may have check raised like 10/9 of spades. I know he didn’t add that in the Equilab earlier, I should have, but either way, this is the kind of situation where it’s very, very awkward and uncomfortable and the main question I would ask myself is, “Would he ever shove this with two pair or a set because he doesn’t know how the heck to play it and we all know that bad players will make bad decisions when they have hands their confused with.

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In this exact situation, I don’t think we really should’ve ever gotten here this way. I think this was just kind of a decision that needs to be made on the flop. I don’t really like getting here this way, as played, hero decided to fold and honestly, I’d probably call it off. I at least have some equity the times that I’m wrong, I don’t think he has a flush every single time because even if he did, why the heck would he shove it? I don’t know. A lot of this just isn’t really making any sense, but again, had we made better decisions on earlier streets, this kind of thing never really happens.

In the exact hand, the big blind ended up showing us, 7/4 suited, which is kind of goofy, but also not too surprising. Again, he only had to call an extra big blind pre-flop. Bad players will definitely complete their with a lot of hands, 7/4 being one of them so we really can’t be too shocked. Again, that makes our pile on the flop even better because if you can have this kind of thing, again, going back to the Equilab, if we’re able to add things like 7/4 suited, 7/4 off, or 8/4 or things like say, do a suit selection and maybe add like those kind of hands as well in spades and still do and evaluate. Again, we’re still doing super, super well on equity. Again, this money should’ve been in much, much earlier in the hand.

SplitSuit

My name is James "SplitSuit" Sweeney and I'm a poker player, coach, and author. I've released 300+ videos, coached 500+ players, and co-founded the training site Red Chip Poker. Contact me if you need any help improving your poker game!

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