In hockey, scoring three goals in the same game is a hat trick. My good friend Matt Lessinger coined the phrase "The Poker Hat Trick" in an article in Cardplayer a few years back and defined it as check raising the same player three times in the same hand. This is something I'd never done before until today. While I've been known to bet the flop and turn and then check raise the river (I probably do that a few times a day), I'd never had the stones to check the river after check raising both the flop and the turn. But today the situation was perfect.
I was in a $10/$20 limit 6-max game in the four seat with a very aggressive player who was on total meltdown tilt in the two seat. On the hand before the one in question I played a flush draw super aggressively capping it on the flop and then three betting on the turn after I'd hit a pair. The player in the two seat also had a flush draw, which we both missed, but he still called my river bet even though all he had was ten high! I guess he was hoping I was on a smaller flush draw!
On the very next hand I was in the big blind and my nutty friend was on the button. He raised, the small blind called and I decided to see a flop with J 5 off suit. Normally this hand easily goes in the muck vs a raise and a call, but since I knew the original raiser could have any two cards and I was almost sure to get paid off if I made the best hand it was an clear decision to see the flop.
The flop came down 5 5 3 and I thought "Holy Shit! Please let him have a real hand!" While I thought I might get paid off all the way by any ace, I knew I'd make a bundle if my crazy opponent had an over pair.
The small blind checked, I did too, and of course seat two bet out. The small blind called and I raised it. Most average or good players would just call here with the plan of check raising on the turn, but pros would almost always raise. The first reason to do this is you might get three bet which means you can either cap the flop and lead out or check raise the turn. Also it's a minor disaster if you call the flop, check the turn and it gets checked behind you. Furthermore the small blind is in there. Many players will take one off with overcards on the flop and then dump on the turn. By just calling the flop you'd miss out on a potential extra small bet or two from the third player in the pot.
So I check raised. And I got three bet which led to the drool coming out of my mouth and the dollar signs popping into my eyes. I opted to just call instead of capping and betting out since I was all but sure my opponent would bet the turn.
The turn was a ten, I checked, he bet and I raised, just like I'd planned. The river was a queen which was a great card. I figured if I checked he'd assume that I had a ten or a three. If he could beat a ten I knew he'd bet and there was also a chance that he might fire with absolutely nothing. So I checked for a third time.
After a short stall he bet again, I raised, and he called me with pocket nines. It was a sweet hand!