It is my first hand at the table. We are five-handed at a six max. Fold, call, fold, fold. I check the big blind with J 3.

The flop is 3 3 8.

Check or bet are both very reasonable ideas here. I usually bet out. Since it’s unlikely I have a three or an eight here I can represent a steal and possibly get called down or even raised at some point.

The only way I make any money on this hand is if the villain assumes I have nothing, since the top of his range is likely around AT. If he has A8 then I’ve lucked out and am likely to be called down the whole way by a villain who thinks he has me outkicked. But most likely he’ll have high cards, and will need to believe I have nothing before he’ll put any money in the pot.

I also steal a lot in this situation. Players at this level will limp with the most random hands, hoping to flop big. They usually don’t and hence have no interest in continuing the hand.

In this case I checked. I must have been distracted by my other table. For whatever reason I didn’t think the situation through.

But the villain cooperated and bet the pot, $4.

Again, I didn’t know what to do. A check-raise would not be believable as a bluff. But I was staring at those two hearts and couldn’t stand the thought of another one coming on the turn and preventing me from making any more money, or even worse, costing me the pot.

I check-raised more than the pot, making the bet $18.

Villain insta-raised all-in. I only had $180, left at this point, but the villain had pushed in all $527 of their stack.

So I made a list of the hands that beat me; 88, 83, A3, K3, Q3.

I discounted out 88. It’s obvious there is nothing to lose by betting that hand slower, and a lot to gain.

I ruled out 83 for the same reason, in addition to the fact that it’s an unlikely hand to open-limp with from out of position.

K3 and Q3 actually never made it on the list because it was ridiculous to think that someone would open-limp with those hands.

The list of hands I was afraid of was very short, A3, A3, A3, A3, 88,88,88.

But there were even fewer reasonable hands I could beat. 34s? Nut flush draw?

Looking for a reasonable hand to bet $180 into a $40 pot is probably a fools errand.

Since I’d be putting in 45% of the final pot at this point, how large would the villain’s range need to be be here for this to be a break-even call?

If we assume that the villain would limp with any AJ or lower, or small pair, and make this play with any 3 or nut heart draw, then a call is break-even.

If we add the possibility of other flush draws (KQs is plausible) or possible big pocket pair traps (ie QQ+) the call becomes slightly profitable.

Limping with all those hands is plausible, but the three-bet all-in for 4.5 times the pot with a flush draw is not. It’s not a bad play given the fold equity, and the likelihood of having 9-15 outs if called, but it’s also not a likely one. That is a lot of money to risk on a draw.

I called. I consider it a mistake now. I considered it a mistake at the end of the session. I also considered it a mistake when the villain turned over K3.