I am fairly new to the game (about 1 month in) but have been playing a ton recently. I would love for some input on a specific hand that came down last night and any advice for how to avoid the thought traps which made me make the wrong action in that scenario. I know I am often an overly conservative player.

Last hand of the night in a $3/$5 holdem game against medium aggressive players, or at least players who are way more aggressive than I have been playing that night. I get pocket fives and someone before me makes a $20 bet which is called by 2 other players and myself. Flop is 5, 10, Q so I have three fives at this point and can be fairly certain I have the best hand but unfortunately I'm in the earliest position. I bet $50 which gets one fold, one call, then the guy in the latest position raises to $185. Over the night, he has made some bluffs but often has had it when he makes a bet like this. At this point I think he probably has 2 pair which I still have beat. I think forever then call, and the other guy does as well.

A random 2 comes down on the turn, I check expecting a bet from one of them but it is checks all around. Then the river is a 10. On board is 5, Q, 10, 2, 10 and I'm holding a full house 5,5,5,10,10. There aren't flush possibilities. At this point I am very afraid he has Q, 10 in hand (or Q,Q/10,10/Q,5/10,5 but less likely) based on his bet on the flop and that he will have a better full house (or quads). I check, the next guy checks, and the villain in position bets $450. I think about it for a long time but end up folding as does the other guy and the $450 takes it. Turns out he had KQ and only had 2 pair: QQ+1010, the other guy was going for a straight draw he missed and had nothing.

I really kicked myself because my decision was basically should I risk $450 for a shot at ~$1100 knowing I had a boat and there were only a few unlikely outs that he had which could make him win that hand. More experienced players told me after the hand that I should have at least called and maybe raised -- it was really my risk adversity which punished me there.

What would you have done and why? How can I avoid this type of situation in the future? From an odds perspective how could I have quickly estimated my equity was better and from a psychology perspective how should I have thought about it? Thanks in advance!

  • 2
    I think your mistake was not getting the money in on the flop. You bet, which is good; your opponent raised; even better. You should have jammed at that point rather than call and risk future scare cards. Bottom set is plenty to jam early with, but it's not good enough to slow play. Commented Apr 27, 2015 at 19:48
  • @LeeDanielCrocker It may be short, but your comment is more of an answer. It would be great for you to post it as one, perhaps elaborate a little on your thought process :)
    – Toby Booth
    Commented Apr 27, 2015 at 21:55
  • 1
    Dont share the hand results in this forum. You did not knew what he holds and so this information is not important. People then tend to be biased and you might get worse answers. Commented Apr 28, 2015 at 11:35
  • I am OK with you call on the flop. If you had pushed you are only getting called with AA, KK, QQ, TT, and QT. You are folding out all the hands you dominate. You have a hand that is going to get paid off by a lot of single pair and two pair hands. Yes a Q or T rolling off is a risk but if they called a push of the flop they did not need the Q or T anyway.
    – paparazzo
    Commented May 9, 2017 at 21:17

3 Answers 3


Your call preflop was good as you had the desired multi-way pot for set-mining. What i don't like is the donk bet against 3 opponents. These types of bets against multiple opponents are showing great strength, exactly what you don't wish to show right now!

Give the aggressor a chance to C-bet this pot and some others to call. C-bets are more easily called than the donk-bet on your side since more often than not they mean nothing and a villain holding a T or a Q will call a typical C-bet, filling a pot you're pretty sure you win. These cards belong to any calling range so you should expect at least one out there to have a piece on this flop.

You were lucky that one of the villains raised you big since this is a dreamy reaction when you have a set. You don't really care if he has QQ or TT or say a high Q when you hold another set, you just have to either win everyone's stack or die in the process with a set, at least for me. Although, most of the time all you will get is a fold/fold/fold action and be sad when you donk bet, especially if it's not a usual move by you. Avoid donk bets in this situations.

I would only donk-bet if the board was very coordinated, like:

5⋄T⋄Q⋄ or


and this would be party to the flop and to the number of villains out there. Against a single opponent, i would still let him C-bet even in these flops. Even in this kind of flops, a set is extremely strong. You never fear with a set, especially in this not-so-coordinated flop, so what's the rush?

In any case, you should re-raised him about 450$ (about x2.5 his bet) when he raised you to 185$. Since you're not going to fold this very strong, made hand, why giving him the free card? The guy raised you almost x4 times your bet and you want to push the rest with a set, otherwise you're just giving him a shot with whatever he has (you mostly fear a straight draw). You can never know if he had another set, a 2-pair, a straight draw or perhaps a high Q since when you have a set you only care about the flop texture and how coordinated it is and decide the tempo with good sized bets.

The villain made it easy for you, so fist pump and raise him now. He isn't afraid to shovel money in it, so help him. If he has another set, you will lose anyway your whole stack now or later. But if he had a high Q or a 2-pair, you win 80% and more of the time, simply put. Harrington says you're supposed to lose a big amount, if not your whole stack with a set but he talked about tournaments. Still, a set strength doesn't change much in cash games.

The problem with your sets are how to attract all of their money to the pot. In this particularly hand you didn't had that problem. The only way to lose this hand is:

  • Villain hit a higher set on the flop. This is rare.
  • Villain hits 1 of his 4-outer (Q,Q,T,T) on the next streets while had a 2-pair of QT on the flop. This is equivalent for one hitting a gutshot which is less than 10% per street. Also very rare.

As you see, there are very few cases, and pretty rare as well. Simply put, you should had go with this hand to the end. Go with EV and less with instict.

Welcome to the game!


When faced with what you believe to be a tough play such as this one it is helpful to review the hand and narrow your opponents range. You did not give specifics (it would be helpful to know action), but lets assume this is a 10 handed game and take some liberties to demonstrate.

UTG +2 raises to $20 (4xBB) in this spot we can often assume he is playing a premium or very close to a premium hand due to a large raise out of position (range is probably somewhere around AK-99).

2 calls lets assume they are Button -1 and the Button. These two callers have a wider range because of their favorable position. So add in suited connectors, small pocket pairs etc. However, very strong hands are ruled out because hands like AA, KK, QQ, JJ, AKs, and even AQs depending on how loose the game is would have reraised in position.

I am going to assume you are in the small blind and you make the call, which I am perfectly fine with in this situation. You are looking for a set to snare a big hand.

Flop: Qh 10d 5s

Awesome you made your set and the flop is relatively dry with the exception of possibly nut strait draws. You are first to act with 3 players behind you and a pot of roughly $80. Your bet of $50 first to act shows strength and if you are my opponent I am guessing you paired your Q. However, you did not reraise preflop so I am narrowing your range to KQ, QJ, Q10, with AQ less likely, and Q10, 55 unlikely because you would probably check these hands to trap. I digress, I disagree with your bet here, with 3 players behind you I think you should check here with a planned check raise to any bet.

UTG +2 folds. Button -1 calls. Button reraises to $185 To me this screams Q10, AQ, KQ, AJ, KJ, rarely 1010. You call and Button -1 calls this range is very similar to button but probably lies heavier on the side of open ended strait draws as he probably reraises you first with hands like AQ and Q10. As it stood when the action was on you the pot was $365 and you needed to call $135. I agree with a previous comment this is a shove position or at least a healthy reraise. The only hand that has you beat is 1010 and that hand is rarely present based on the action. A raise here of good size would drive out strait draws (where as a call gives him odds to call) and isolate the hand you likely have crushed.

Turn: 2c pot roughly $600

This card does not change our hand strength or our opponents perceived hand strength. 95% of the time you are ahead and your opponents have at best 8 outs (open ended strait has Ax4 9x4). Giving them a little under 20% pot odds. I think in this situation you should lead out for about half the pot or roughly $300. This continues your showing of strength and I think you should be ready to shove on any raise. This bet builds the pot for the river and wins us money long term on strait draws that call. In addition it guarantees us more information on our opponents hands. You took a risk and checked and we gained no info on our opponents hands.

River: 10s

This is potentially a scary card because Q10 was in our opponents range. You checked, I agree with this play, but i am planning on check calling just about any bet here. button -1 checks and Button bets $450 into a pot of roughly $600. You must risk $450 to win roughly $1050 + $450 ($1500) giving you roughly 1/3 odds. Your opponents range included AQ, KQ, QJ, Q10, and 1010 with 1010 being extremely rare the way this was played by your opponent. Q10 would also rarely be played this way as I would expect position to bet his two pair on the turn, and value bet the river not 3/4 of the pot. But even if you can only narrow it down to AQ, KQ, QJ, Q10 you are only beat 1/4 of the time. Therefore I think a call here is warranted and a long term winning play.

I apologize for the length, but hopefully you can follow my thinking and understand the process. Whenever you go into the tank to make a tough play remember to think back and try to narrow down your opponents range. You have gained a lot of information throughout the hand, use it to help make the right play.



I agree with the other answers.

I am going to put the villain on the button. I assume you are in one of the blinds.

Flop a set even bottom set is always good. It is not likely villain has QQ or they would have raised pre. Villain could have AQ, AJ, KQ, KJ, KT, JT, QJ, QT, JT, J9 or TT. But TT likely would raise pre.


I don't agree with leading here as it put you on a strong hand and someone likely to bet.

You get raised to $185. I think QQ would smooth call here. Even TT might smooth call. This could be top or middle pair with an over or QT. You are only behind KK and TT and like I said I think can rule out KK. If the do have QT you need to 3 bet big. At least $450 to give less than 3:1.


As it plays out to the river. Villain could be on KT, AT, T9, or JT and think it is good. If he is bluffing 1/3 the time you need to call. Clearly a lot more hands get here you beat than hands that have you beat. It is easy when you know the outcome but I think this is a call.

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