I raise to $6 from middle with AKo. The table captain calls. A moderately clueful player on the button raises to $22. Then the loose-passive calling station in the small blind calls. You don’t see that very often.

I’m in something of a pickle. If I call to try to hit top pair the clueful player and the journalist will likely overcall and I will find myself in a difficult position if I don’t hit top pair. If I do hit, it may be hard to get paid off by the cluefull player, or maybe even the calling station.

If I raise I will be showing a lot of strength to the players behind me. The captain was probably playing implied odds, with suited connectors or small pair, and will fold.

If the cluefull player has AA or KK or maybe QQ he’ll probably push in. If not, he’ll probably fold a lot of hands that beat me TT, JJ, QQ or AK as well as hands that I can lose a lot too but am less likely to win a lot from; AQ, AJ.

However a three bet will likely not scare off the calling station. That’ll leave me in position, in a big pot, with probably a much better hand, against a guy who will pay me off almost every time.

I raised another $58 into the $56 pot.

If the cluefull player had pushed at this point and the calling station had folded, it would have been another $80 for me to call for a $172 pot. He cannot reasonably think the calling station would fold. On top of that, I’ve shown extreme strength here.

I’d need 31% equity to call $80 into a $172 pot. If he’s as clueful as I think he is we can reasonably conclude his range is KK+ and my equity is 20%. A clear fold.

If he’s the type to marry QQ, then my equity goes up to 30% and it’s still a fold. Especially since I don’t know if he’d really do that with QQ.

If he’s a lot looser than I thought and would wildly overplay JJ in this situation, my equity is 34% and I’m not losing much by folding.

However, there is still a calling station behind him. If he calls the all-in, that bloats the pot to $252. I am only left with $120 behind, and the calling station has me covered. There is no way I’m folding at that point, so the situation is the same if the calling station goes all-in and I call all in.

I’m now putting in $120 more. The main pot will be $330. The side pot will be $80. We’ll ignore the side pot since it makes up so little of the money in the middle.

I put $80 more in the main pot to make it’s total $330, so I need 24% equity for that to be a breakeven call. Even with a wide range like QQ+ for the clueful player and AJ+ and TT+ for the loose-passive player my equity is only 20%.

That’s a very extensive digression. And all very moot because the clueful player folded.

The loose-passive small blind called and I had exactly the situation I wanted. The pot was $190, effective stacks were $120 and I was in position against a very loose-passive player.

The flop was J82 rainbow. He checked. I decided I was likely ahead and bet $40. He called. Loose as he was, I don’t think he would have made that call without a pair. I put him on 99, TT, QQ, or 77.

So now I was in another bind and I had to get lucky.

The turn was Q. Check, check.

The river was 5. Check, check.

Maybe I should have used the Q as a chance to bluff. But my last $80 in a $270 pot doesn’t seem like enough to scare such an extremely loose player. I may have gotten 77 to fold, but not much else and even that is not very likely.

He turned over AJ.

It wasn’t much of a consolation at the time, but in hindsight I think I played very well and saved $80.

Bad beat: -$120.