Nut Flush on the River, what do you do here?

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DECISION POINT:
In a live $2-5 cash game, an Under the Gun player raises to $30, UTG+1 calls, and you 3-bet to $145 from Middle Position with K♦K♥. The Button calls and everyone else folds. Villain calls your continuation bet on the A♥4♥7♥ flop. The J♣ turn is checked. The river comes T♥ and action is on you. What do you do here?

PRO ANSWER: There are many interesting decision points in this hand. Preflop we 3-bet to $145 after a $30 raise and a caller from Early Position, and the Button cold calls our reraise. Typically when an opponent calls big raises like this they have a very narrow, condensed range of hands. This means they are very unlikely to have a hand like pocket aces since AA would not want to call and encourage other players to call and create a mulitway pot. Villain is also unlikely to have KK since we have two of the kings and for similar reasons are unlikely to have AA.

This leaves our opponent’s range very narrow and limited to hands like QQ/JJ/AK/AQ and maybe sometimes TT/AJs. Playing against condensed ranges can be very different postflop since we can be much more informed as to how likely certain flops are to have hit them.

On the flop we get a monotone (all one suit) heart board A-4-7. This is also an interesting spot for us. The hands in our opponent’s range we’re ahead of, namely QQ/JJ, we’re WAY ahead of. Villain has two outs and even if they hit, we will have an 11 out redraw to the nut flush or a set.

Continued below…

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It is extremely unlikely Villain already has a flush because we have the Kh so even a loose call by KhQh isn’t possible here. Villain would have to be willing to cold call $145 preflop with a hand like JhTh which seems extremely unlikely. The rest of their range consists of strong Ax hands. The problem we run into on this flop is the need to continue in such a way that we can get value out of our opponent’s smaller pairs but not get blown off a relatively big draw when they have a big ace. Against tougher opponents we should be checking here with much of our range or potentially making a much smaller bet (as small as $80). This keeps us from getting blown off our hand as well as maximizing our value versus Villain’s entire range.

The turn diminishes our hand significantly. We still have 11 outs when behind, but with just one card to come and one of the hands in our opponent’s range we were ahead of on the flop (JJ), is now ahead of us. Checking is our best play on the turn. Once our opponent checks behind we can feel reasonably confident they don’t have JJ and their range is heavily weighted towards QQ and Ax hands. Ax will make up more of their range just because there are more possible combinations of those hands.

The Th river gives us the nut flush and now our opponent’s range consists mostly of QQ (with or without the Qh), AK (which cannot have a heart), and AQ (which has a heart 25% of the time). This is a spot where it makes sense to either bet quite large (since our opponent will rarely fold the Qh regardless of our bet size) or quite small (to induce calls from the bigger Ax hands without a heart).

If we had any player specific knowledge here (like if they were likely to attack a smaller bet with a wider range or if they’re capable of hero calling wider if we make a big bet) this could sway us one way or another. Defaulting to the much larger bet here makes sense since a smaller bet of $200 which would need to be called four times as often as a bet to $800 to be as profitable and given their condensed range they actually have the Qh a reasonable amount of the time.

If we had any player specific knowledge here, such as if our opponent were likely to attack a smaller bet with a wider range or is capable of hero calling wider if we make a big bet, this could sway our decision in either direction.

Defaulting to the much larger bet here makes sense, since a smaller bet of $200 would need to be called four times as often as a bet of $800 to be as profitable, and given our Opponent’s condensed range they actually have the Qh a reasonable amount of the time.

Betting $800 is the best play

How would you play it?
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