Your call: Karl Mahrenholz takes it to the river at GUKPT Reading’s Karl Mahrenholz tests out your poker skills with this tough hand from a recent major tournament. Can you work out the best move?

EVENT: £500+£50 GUKPT Reading
STACK: 40,000
BLINDS: 200/400/a50

The situation

This hand was one I played during Day 1B of GUKPT Reading. This is a well-structured event with one hour levels. Re-entries were still available for a few hours at this time and I had been at the table for two levels. The table was made up of mainly passive, less experienced players, with one strong player who had been taking advantage of the table since I sat down by playing lots of pots. My image at this point was active – I had been raising any unopened pots, although I hadn’t tangled with the stronger player yet. I hadn’t shown down any hands as most players were playing fit or fold poker.

In this hand I raised with K-T offsuit from mid-position to 850 from a stack of around 40,000. Action folded to the stronger player in the big blind who put in the extra 450 from a stack of 50,000. The flop came K-6-2 with two spades. He checked to me and I bet 1,350 into 2,150. He thought for a while before calling. The turn was an offsuit Nine and again he checked. I bet 3,900 into 4,850 and again he called. The river came an offsuit Ace and he thought for a little while before checking. What is my best play and why? If you decide to bet, how much and what would you do facing a raise?

The solution

There are many reasons to bet the river here. You can rep the missed flush draw – you have an active image and, as a thinking player, he will know that you are supposed to rep the Ace when he checks to you. However, there are also reasons to check back on this occasion. Hands that he can legitimately have that beat you include K-Q, K-J, possibly A-6, A-2 or the nut flush draw. There are some worse Kings that could call but not much else. Pocket pairs can’t really call three streets unless he is severely overthinking things. Obviously missed spades are a part of his range and these can’t call either.

There is 12,650 in the pot and I have around 34,000 left. I’m all for going for thin value but I think checking is best here. There are too many hands that he plays like this that can beat us and not enough worse ones that will call. Also, at a very weak table I am happy to take this pot down without the risk of losing a large river bet. If I take a big hit here I would surrender the role of table captaincy to him and it could be more costly than potentially missing out on some value. I checked and ended up losing to A♠-J♠.

The winner this month is Shane Chingwho correctly analysed that Karl should check behind on the river because it would be hard to get called by a worse hand. Congratulations!


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