If there's one thing that has recently stalled much of my online cash game play, it's definitely been running pocket kings into pocket aces. No fewer than seven times in this past week alone have I dropped a full buy-in to this vicious nightmare for any poker player. That, gentlemen and ladies, is a classic case of running bad. Apparently there are some people who never have this happen to them. I am not one of them!
So, here I am playing at my usual low limit stakes, a .50/1 full-ring NLHE game and I look down at KK in middle position. I perk up and make a standard 3x BB raise and get called by the button and the big blind. My danger sense starts going off for some reason when the button just flat calls my raise. (More on this later!)
The flop comes down with a rather unplesant rainbow thud of T87. Instantly I decide that a continuation bet is most definitely not called for, as I have no idea where I am at ... and juicing the pot will not solve anything. If someone has aces, I'm drawing thin. Tens, eights, and sevens have all outflopped me with sets and nines have flopped an open-ended straight draw. Pocket jacks and pocket fives, two other likely holdings for these set-mining opponents, have inside straight draws against me and are not going anywhere. I could even be facing a flopped straight if someone opted to call with the ever popular J9.
So, as expected the big blind checks the flop and I immediately check behind. The button, though, bets out with a 3/4ths pot-sized bet. The first villain folds and I reluctantly call.
The turn card is a jack! Any nine now makes a straight. I check, intending to call just one more modest-sized bet, but the button smoothly checks right behind me! This confused me to no end as I'm well behind his possible range. The only hand he could have that I can realistically beat is pocket queens. I'm behind AA, JJ, TT, 99, 88 and 77 as well as any number of two pair hands.
Amazingly, the river card is a nine, putting a five-card straight on board! Now I lose to QQ (also the unlikely KQ) but chop with everything else my opponent could reasonably have as we both play the board. I opt to check (I could have made a big bet to represent queens myself, but opt against it, just wanting to get to showdown), and my opponent checks behind me.
What did my opponent actually have? As you might have guessed by the title of this post, he had pocket aces and I managed to dodge a bullet.
This was quite the valuable experience in hand-reading. Some quick thinking on my part and an awareness of significant danger helped me to realize that my pocket kings were nearly worthless in this situation, and consequently I was able to use that discipline for my part to control the pot size. I was prepared to lose the minimum to my opponent's range and was fortunate enough to get away with a chopped pot when the lucky nine hit on the river.