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Flopping a set in Poker

To suss out the type of game and level or style of players, it is usually part of my game plan to sit patiently at the start of tournaments to check out the opposition.  I usually call with small to medium pocket pairs from any position, with the hope of flopping that set and if I ever do in tournaments, then the result is usually good one, especially if the game is particularly loose and playing against aggressive players.  Against an aggressive player who is involved in too many hands, I'm usually rubbing my 'actual' hands in glee about a very likely double up in tournament chips if such a situation arises.

I don't usually play ultra tight and I vary up my raises depending on what my impressions of the table are.  I will sometimes raise or call with suited connectors like 78suited, 910s or 65s from mid to late position and fold these hands in EP, but not after getting a feel for the table first.  I sometimes even call with some sort of suited hand like Q6 or K5 or Jx suited from late position.  Occasionally this works when I catch the hand perfectly and I find this sort of play if done carefully, can really help build up the chip stack.  I'm careful with medium range hands like A10 and AJ unsuited, sometimes raising and sometimes folding, and always more aggressive with my decent starting top range hands.  I try to play with decent hands all in all, but attempt not to seem too easy to read, by mixing up my raises and play.  Over the past month or so I have had some success in the lower level tournaments finishing second a couple of times and in the top ten final table a few times as well.

I was doing well in a $5 bounty hunter with first prize of about $100. I can't remember exactly now the actual figure, but my dream scenario of flopping a set came true when I called a small raise from the small blind with 99, coming in from late position, and an added bonus with an ultra-super-aggressive bluffer also involved (as he was pretty much every hand) with chips to burn.  As we were quite far in to the tournament, I was short stacked compared to the others on my table with around 75,000 in chips, but judging by the way the opposition were playing I felt fairly confident about my chances.  

Anyway,  I called and hit my 9 on a A 9 x flop and I was indeed rubbing my hands knowing that the bets would be raining in.  The original pre flop bettor raised about three quarters of the pot, the aggressive guy in mid position called and I just called.  The turn came another 9 giving me quads! On bwin I love to watch the screen as it tells you what you've made before the next card comes out so I knew I'd hit something again like full house, but I wasn't expecting that!  The original pre flop raiser checked this time, followed by a huge bet by the next player which basically put me all in and I just called, hoping not to scare the first player off.  He called as well.  The river was a Q and with a check, a check, my final raise all-in and two calls I managed to triple my chip stack to 400,000.  

I know it's easy to play with such a strong hand, but I wanted to share this as it was such a cool situation.  Learning how to play and maximise your winnings when you have a monster hand isn't always the easiest thing, particularly against tight/timid players!  Of course, this wasn't the case this time and I was delighted to triple up.

For the record, the original raiser had AQ and the aggressive player had absolutely nothing!

Without sounding arrogant, these days if I get a chip stack like this I should be doing ok in the tournament from then onwards, using the pattern of play I described in the introduction and overall playing fairly tightly.  I also felt like I had a pretty good overall read of the opposition in front of me.  However, what was to follow was disappointing and I felt frustrated with my final play after reaching the final 8 in the tournament.  Let me explain.

I think about 3 hands had been played on the final table when I held AK unsuited in early position.  I raised 3 times the blind, which I think was ok.  Everyone folded except a player on the button who went all in for all of my stack of just shy of 300,000 chips.  At this point I wish I took a bit of time to think as I've been in similar spots like this before, and if I ever get into this situation again, unless I have more information on the opposition, I will fold this hand here everytime.  Anyway, with a rush of blood to the head, I didn't and he revealed QQs (the old AK v QQ battle).  Typically he hit his Q on the flop, even though I hit an A on the turn, and of course that was curtains for me.  I think I cashed about £8 which was disappointing as I'd come second in a tournament a few days earlier with far less chips going into the final table and I was wanting to get as close to that $100 as I could.  Hopefully I will learn my lesson for next time!  Please let me know your thoughts.  Over and out.

Good luck at the tables - Toby.

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I have been playing poker for about 15 years. I play online currently and I've played poker in casinos, card rooms, local games and with friends. I play NL hold'em tournaments and cash games and can also play Pot Limit Omaha, a game I also love.
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