Beware of potential trouble
There are certain poker hands of which you should be wary. That’s not to say you shouldn’t play them, but rather that you need to exercise caution with them in certain circumstances. A great example of this took place midway through Day 1A of the Mid-States Poker Tour Cleveland Poker Open at the Jack Cleveland Casino in January.
It happened with blinds at 400-800 plus an ante of 100. The player under the gun player opened for 1,800, and Vlad Baranov called. Chris Nguyen, sitting in the cutoff seat, also called, and Haad Majied came along from the big blind, so four players saw a flop of 10s Jd Qs.
Majied led out for 6,500, the original raiser folded, and Baranov thought for a while before just calling. Nguyen called, too, and the Chris Nguyen’s hand: Vlad Baranov’shand: three players watched the dealer burn and turn the 6h.
Majied checked, Baranov moved all in for 41,000, and Nguyen went into the tank before eventually making the call. Majied folded.
Baranov tabled Ac Ks for Broadway ( the nickname for a 10-J-Q-K-A straight). Nguyen turned over 8c 9c for a smaller straight. Nguyen was drawing dead headed to the river, which was the meaningless 8h.
In this instance, Nguyen’s 8-9 Flop: suited was one of those hands with inherent risk. If you opt to play it — and many players like playing suited connectors — then you have to be cognizant of board texture. For instance, if the flop comes down 5-6-7, you obviously have the nut straight. When it comes down the way it did in this hand, you still have a straight, but you have the worst of three possible straight combinations. (A-K and K-9 beat you, and both hands were well within Baranov’s range in this case.)
Similarly, if the board contains three clubs, you’ll have a flush. That’s a strong hand and a likely winner, but you still have to be careful, because there are other flush possibilities. If your opponent called a raise with a hand such as Qc Jc or Ac 3c (hands an opponent would likely play), then you have an inferior flush and stand to lose a lot of chips.
The point is, you have to assess whether your opponents would play certain hands that connect with the board texture. If so, you might want to tap the brakes as opposed to leaning on the gas.
In this particular hand, it was difficult for Nguyen to get away given the way it played out. Baranov just called with Big Slick, a hand that most players would have re-raised. It was move designed to disguise the strength of his hand. Nguyen was probably trying to determine whether Baranov had a K-9 or was shoving with some sort of straight and flush combination draw.
It was a draw-heavy board, so Nguyen made the call, hoping Baranov’s hand fell into the latter camp. Ironically, Baranov shoved on the turn to protect his hand against all the draws, and in the process he got paid.