Playing Tough Second Pair Hands

Today’s poker hand comes from Everson, and Everson prefaces the hand by saying, “Hello there! Great opportunity, thanks! Here goes my question: River Bluff catching in Micro Stakes. Definitely the most important street, it’s actually where big pots live. I want to share one ‘bread and butter hand’ I’ve played, every time I see this hand I get a somewhat different idea. So here it goes…”

Okay, so in this hand hero opens with 99 from under the gun, it’s a six-handed table, but they’re playing five-handed. Size wise is fine, but I would ask you why you’re starting with this stack size. Why did you decide to play this hand with 75 big blinds? It’s a little bit awkward. If you have the opportunity, I would definitely reload up to a 100 or 200 big blinds if you’re playing deep, rather than playing with this awkward 75 big blind stack size. It’s a really, really weird midstacking size to use. But in this hand we do decide to open and end up getting a call by the small blind, go heads up to it. The small blind in this situation is a 57/19 over 40 hands with a 0% 3 bet. In over 40 hands, we’re not really going to be able to use any other HUD stats and even using 3 bet is pretty liberal, to be honest.

We end up flopping second pair here, small blind checks, hero decides to bet. I like the fact that we’re betting, they’re certainly hands that are second best that can and will call. We’ll never going to fold out any better hands like Ax or two pair. But by the same token, I think from a player like this, we can definitely get looked up by draws, we can get looked up by 7x, 6x, all those kind of things. If he folds out his equity with a KQ, nothing that wrong with that anyway.

So in this situation, a half pot C-bet should certainly get the job done and we’re just kind of play poker from here if we get called. The SB calls and we get a Ten on the turn. He checks and Everson decides to check behind. I would check behind here as a default as well. The T is kind of a bad card, it fills up draws, it fills up the gut shot with like a T9 type hand. Obviously we have two nines in our hand and that serves to block some of those combos, but still…and if we do decide to bet this, because the T is now an over card, to say the 7x or the 6x type hands, I’m thinking that I might not get called by those as much any more. I mean, there’s no guarantee one way or the other, but I’m still never folding out an ace, I’m never folding out a hand that beats me and I’m not really sure that I’m getting value from enough second best. So in a situation like this, I’d probably just take the pot control line and check back just like hero did.


King on the river, end up facing the half pot bet. So at this point we’re getting exactly 3:1 on a call, which means we need to be good a quarter of the time and in this situation, hero does decide to call. Then he asks this: “Was this a very bad call? I thought, would he bet a Kx or Tx and wouldn’t he have already bet or raised a strong Ax? So it felt like more of a missed draw to me.”

Okay. In a situation like this, we’re getting 3:1, let’s just go back one tick, and you said that you thought you’re not sure if you would be Kx or Tx and you thought that he would’ve already bet or raised a strong Ax. Let’s just go with the Ax thing first. If he had Ax, there’s no guarantee that he would have three bet a preflop, even something like ace/queen or ace/jack, because well, he does have a pretty big gap in his VPIP PFR, he does seem to be kind of passive fishy, definitely something to keep in mind. Then in this situation, would he necessarily, say he wasn’t jut going to call preflop with ace/jack. Not much reason to think that he’s always going to checker it either. Then the turn going check/check is pretty typical and then he leads out on the river.

I don’t think we can take out ace X by any stretch of the imagination. Now him betting Kx or Tx is up for debate, but he’s not a good player, so it’s very reasonable to assume that he could bet that, not fully understanding show down value or what the heck bets are supposed to accomplish, bad players make bad bets all the time. It wouldn’t shock me to see him occasionally even turn up with like a Tx that he’s not really sure why the heck he’s betting it, but we end up paying him off.

Then you mentioned the missed draws thing. So the missed draws thing is kind of tough because pretty much all the missed draws got there, you know. 98 got there, T9 got there, Kx with clubs got there, queen/jack with clubs got there, pretty much the only draw that we beat at this point would be like 96, which we block out, 54 or some sort of like baby clubs type hand, like 43 of clubs. So there just aren’t a tremendous amount of combos that, and getting 3:1 pot odds here, I don’t really think I’m going to be good, even a quarter of the time. It’s not even just that we have fourth pair, it really isn’t, it’s just more about the range that you would bet on the river and I don’t think there’s enough reason to think that we’re not going to be value-towning ourselves a large chunk of the time here.

In this situation, hero does end up calling and he does end up winning against exactly 45, but I just don’t think 45 is going to make up a large enough chunk of his range, I don’t know if there’s going to be enough withdrawals in this situation to justify that call. Sure, it worked out this time, but I don’t expect that to work out every time in the future by any stretch of the imagination.

So Everson, thanks for the great hand and hopefully this gets you started the next time you find yourself in a difficult river situation. If you or anyone else has another poker hand that you’d like me to discuss, feel free to leave it in the Ask SplitSuit a Question thread, I’ll leave a link for that in the description box, and please make sure to like and subscribe if you’re enjoying these kinds of videos.

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