I’ve got AJ in early position and raise the $3/$5 blinds to $15. I’ve been playing very few hands, but that doesn’t stop four players from calling. This is not ridiculous, since I started the hand with $600 and these players have me well covered.

The flop is QT9. I will often play this passively. Last thing I want is to be raised off a monster draw here. But I could be drawing very slim. Also betting out is a great way of disguising my hand, should I hit the nuts on the turn. Add in the distinct possibility I could pick up the pot here and I go ahead and bet $40.

The player on my left raises to $80. A late position player cold-calls $80. The raiser has me covered. The cold-caller has about $400 behind.

The little voice in my head is screaming. “Shenanigans!” it cries.

Neither player can have a pat hand. Because there are two spades out, any made hand is vulnerable. Even KJ has six cards that will at worst kill his action. Anyone at the table could show up with A2;.

They cannot have a drawing hand either. Any straight draw has to fear the flush draw. Any flush draw has to fear the nut flush draw. Since I have the A I know no one has the nut flush draw.

The table has been playing very strange, in part because it’s very deep-stacked. Both players could have a set, two pair, or pair and flush combinations.

I flat call. I’ve got three outs to the nuts. Maybe more importantly, I know no one will hit the nut flush on the turn, I know no one has a straight already, and I don’t think anyone is on the flush draw. In other words, if I hit my straight it’s probably good. If a spade comes I can probably draw to the nuts cheap.

The turn is a Ks. So now I know if someone was drawing to spades, it was at most jack-high. Because of the extra straight outs, and the potential of pushing a higher flush draw out, having the J is reason enough to put in a huge raise unless there is the possibility someone has a made straight.

Since no one put in that raise, it’s unlikely anyone had the J, which means unless someone was willing to draw to a ten-high flush, no one has a flush right now.

I check. If I am up against a flush, I want to find out cheap. Preferably cheap enough to draw against.

The min-raiser bets $100. The other player folds, and it’s back to me.

There is now $400 in the pot. I have $500 in front of me, enough for a pot-sized all-in raise.

It’s completely unreasonable for him to have a flush. Even if he does have a flush, it’s not the nut flush, so he might not call. And even if he calls with a non-nut flush, I’ll have seven outs against it.

I go all-in. He doesn’t even hesitate before calling.

Now, I ask you? What the hell does he have?

Maybe AxJ works. He tries to buy a free card on the flop. Figures I can’t have a flush on the turn, because that means I’m raising with A9s or worse pre-flop.

Actually, that does work. I couldn’t come up with it before because I didn’t give him credit for knowing I didn’t have a flush.

But once I don’t have the flush, he can call a lot of hands on the end with a naked jack. He’s getting two to one where only one hand (AJ) beats him. If he has the jack of spade, he even figures to have a redraw against me most of the time.

It’s still quite a stretch. It’s a lot harder for me not to have a flush when I push that $500 in. And even if I don’t have the flush, how can I re-raise push with worse than a jack?

Even if you know I don’t have a flush are you calling to chop? Or have you turned your hand into a bluff catcher, betting with the intention of inducing a bluff from an (effectively) naked A?

Do you have a hypothesis? Was there something I missed that might give it away?

The villain had QJ, no spades.

When he called, I actually turned to the guy on my left and said, “How could he call? I have this,” and showed him the ace of spades.

I assumed he had some trash spade hand, J9, or something really random. I’d mentally lost the pot already, so it didn’t bother me at all when the dealer began to chop it and give me half.

The river was the ace of diamond. He was drawing dead and hit a three-outer to chop. A three-outer that cost me about $640. I realized I was playing too deep, and got a table change not long after.