My most epic punt in poker so far

Lock in, chat pros: this was at the Hustler Casino Live meetup game.  The game was $2/$3 no limit with a $500 max buy-in.

We started the hand at $800 effective.

Under the gun +1 opens to $15.

The lojack – the main villain in this hand, seems like a reg, has a huge stack – calls.

The cutoff calls.

I’m on the button with AQ offsuit. In theory, you can mix between squeezing and calling in this spot. Against these player types I prefer just calling here, but in the moment I did elect to squeeze to $75.

The big blind jams for about $150 – well, either that or he was a very short stack and he cold-called the $75. Unfortunately I can’t 100% remember what the big blind did, but for consistency I’ll go with him jamming for $150.

It folds around to the lojack who then surprises me with an unconventional backraise to $225. It folds to me. 

Even in position, calling a 4-bet with AQo is out of the question, which leaves two options – fold or jam.

The first thing that factored into my decision was a lapse of “they’re-out-to-get-me syndrome.” My table image was that of a fishy and potentially scared-money nit. The game at my table was playing bigger and tougher than the games I’m used to, and so I wasn’t feeling super comfortable. I had been doing a lot of folding to 3-bets pre-flop, and pot-controlling a lot post-flop. Because of my image, I thought that it was possible that this particular villain could be trying to bully me with weaker hands like A5 suited.

Secondly, I noted that the villain wasn’t even the original raiser; if he had a true premium then why didn’t he 3-bet?

Thirdly, I thought that if I jammed, my tight image could easily earn me credit for aces and only aces.

I should note that at this time, my blood sugar was reading north of 250. Poker is an exciting yet stressful endeavor, and I’ve seen first hand the widely accepted medical knowledge that stress causes high blood sugar in diabetics. Going high while at the table is a recurring challenge. It can be somewhat managed with a few different methods, but as long as poker spikes adrenaline, it can and will cause temporary but significant spikes in blood sugar. This is important to note here because unfortunately, it’s incredibly hard to think straight and soundly when running high. Running high is akin to swimming in mental maple syrup. 

All that being said, although I had my reasons to jam my remaining $725, meaning at least it wasn’t a pure button-click, my reasons for this punt were not even close to sound. 

First of all, if my image was that of a nit, it follows that people probably think I only 3-bet with premiums, and so I shouldn’t have necessarily expected the lojack to think he’d be able to get me off a hand that I chose to 3-bet. He might be “out to get me” in a general sense, but probably not in the form of 4-betting light against me out of position. And also, this isn’t even a 4-bet, it’s technically a 5-bet. It just seems like a 4-bet since it’s effectively a min-click following another min-click. 

Secondly, although he wasn’t the original raiser, the reality is that the backraise is widely known to be one of the strongest possible plays in poker; it almost always represents an extremely nutted hand. It’s exceedingly unlikely that he’s backraising with something like A5s. I know this, but it’s a rare spot that I haven’t gotten into many times in practice, and so I wasn’t able to recall that knowledge in the moment. 

Thirdly, even if I do earn a fold from the lojack, I still have to beat the big blind to scoop the pot! If I get him to fold but lose to the big blind, I only stand to win a measly $150 sidepot between me and the lojack. I think the big blind is going to have mostly either pocket pairs here or a hand similar to mine. I’d probably be flipping with him most of the time, and occasionally be dominated if he has QQ-AA or AK. I didn’t think at all about the extremely important caveat that the big blind was still in the hand. I somehow basically forgot he was in the hand. And the lojack is presumably aware of all of these facts regarding the big blind, which makes it even less likely that he’s raising light here.

Finally, the part of my thought process that actually holds up to some degree, if we were to ignore for a second that the big blind was still in the hand: I think my assessment that the lojack would put me on an extremely strong hand, and not be able to put me on a bullshit hand like AQo if I were to jam, was probably true. Another problem that still remains, however, was that I only had $725 more behind. The raise would be to $800 total, and it would be $575 more for him to call. After my jam, the pot would have been around $1200, giving him about 2:1 odds on a call, meaning he only needs about 33% equity for the call to be breakeven. It’s not as egregious as it would have been if I had only had, say, $600 behind to start, which would have given him close to 3:1 and a trivial snap-call regardless of his holdings. But it’s still a decent price, and a jam heads up would have been more viable if I was a little deeper. 

Anyway, back to what happened: I put my big boy pants on and announced the two fateful words.

All in.

The villain didn’t think for more than about 5 seconds before calling and revealing that he had kings. He asked me if I had aces, to which I laughed nervously and replied no, not bothering to table my hand before the runout. His kings held and just like that, I was felted after losing a near $1800 pot.

Quite a few stars had to align for the jam to actually work in my favor. Reading the lojack’s backraise as weak instead of nutted, essentially forgetting that the big blind was still in the hand, not being deep enough to give the lojack a bad price on a call, the sheer dollar amount of the pot – all of these factors make it undeniable that this hand was the most epic punt of my poker career to date. 

If you’re reading this, don’t try this play at a home game, or any game for that matter. The poker lesson you just read is valued at $800 and I’m offering it up here for free, so please be grateful for my charity. 

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