The Best Preflop Plays, Lines, And Strategy

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Preflop poker can be tricky. Make mistakes, take the wrong lines, or implement the wrong strategy and you set yourself up for a very -EV hand. This quiz challenges your preflop ability by taking you through 15 different hands to see what your exact play would be. After you take the quiz, continue watching the video (or reading) and see how your line compares to the average poker player’s and also my own play. There is no better way to test your playbook and see how you stack up!

Take the Preflop Quiz here.

Let’s get into it!

Assumptions: In each hand assume you are dealt into a brand-new table. You have zero information on the other player’s strengths, weaknesses, or leaks. You only see their stack sizes and positions.

1. $2/$5 with 33

The first hand is from $2/$5 live. Raise to $25 from EP2. Two calls in middle position. What are you doing? So 70% of people said they’d call, 23% said fold, and 7% said that they would 3bet to $150. And just for the record, those are the preset sizes. I didn’t give options to choose size in the quiz.

Now in this situation, calling is a pure default for me here. I would definitely be calling this at a bare minimum. I’m actually really shocked that so many people, almost a quarter of people said that they would fold in this situation. And that feels really weird to me and very nitty. I don’t really see any reason why you would. I mean, you have two players that are both deep with you, and, yes, EP2, yes, they only start with 100 big blinds, yes, they’re opening from an early position, but that should be a pretty strong range of hands. There should definitely be some implied odds opportunities against that, not even mentioning MP1 and MP2 as well. It’s a live game, right? People tend to not be as good. There tends to be a lot of implied odds in that environment, and as such, definitely going to be calling here and going for the set mine.

Being a nit is bad – like, really bad. Read this and find out why nitty is wrong.

2. $2/$5 with KTs

Next one, we have KT suited. We’re playing $2/$5 again. There’s a limp from EP1, two limps in middle position, and it’s to you on the button. So 55% of people said that they would raise to $40, and 19% said they would raise to $15, 22% said they would limp behind, and a couple of people said fold. I don’t understand why the heck you would ever fold in this situation. I know I certainly wouldn’t. My main options are between limping behind or raising to $40.

I don’t think raising to $15 makes a tremendous amount of sense. If you raised only three big blinds here, chances are you’re getting a lot of callers. Yeah, your hand is just not going to perform that great in that scenario. If I’m going to raise, I’m definitely going to look to apply pressure. Maybe it’s $40 that I choose, maybe it’s $50 that I choose. I’m definitely going on the larger side of the spectrum. I don’t want to give people a great price to limp/call with 67 suited, A3 offsuit, any of that kind of stuff. I want to apply pressure, see if I can get them to fold, and picking up 22 uncontested preflop, definitely not mad at that.

A complete discussion about attacking limpers & choosing the right size

At a bare minimum, limping behind or raising to $40 is probably more what I’m probably going to do, again, $40 to $50, something in that ballpark.

3. $2/$5 with ATo

Moving onwards, in this situation, we have AT. There’s a raise to 4x from EP2, MP1 calls, and here we are. Again, this kind of mimics live play really, really well, a lot of multiway opportunities and what are you going to do in them?

In this situation, almost 60% of people said that they would fold. In my opinion, if you’re really not confident postflop, okay, maybe you can justify that. But I think in this scenario, you could definitely be 3betting with blockers here looking for a squeeze. You may say, “Wait, we’re talking about an unknown game, you don’t have information, so your default is really going to be to squeeze?” I would say, yeah, I want to start applying pressure. I want to start my image nice and going. And I also think I’m going to pick this pot up uncontested a pretty large chunk of the time.

Remember, if I don’t know anything on them, chances are that they don’t know anything on me. As such, I think I can fight for this pot and pick it up a pretty large chunk of the time uncontested. So 3betting to $80 will definitely get the job done. Maybe it’s $80, maybe it’s $100, but something in that ballpark I think definitely generates a fair chunk of folds. I don’t think anyone behind me is going to want to cold call that. So I think that these kind of players are going to melt away a large chunk of the time.

Are people going to feel that comfortable with KQ, with AJ, with 88? I don’t think a lot of people are. And obviously there are lots of other hands that people could have in their ranges, both EP2 and MP1. As such, I want to start applying that pressure, picking up this pot uncontested, setting up my table image for the session. Rather than just constantly folding or calling and hoping that I hit a flop, why not squeeze and try to apply that pressure myself?

4. $1/$2 with T8s

In this next spot, we have T8 suited. We are in the big blind. We’re playing $1/$2 this time. Cut-off raises, button calls, small blind calls, and here we are.

So 57% of people said that they would call, but I’m also kind of shocked that 31% of people said that they would fold in this scenario. So, again, this is another spot where I’m probably never going to be folding myself. Maybe if we’re all really shallow, sure, definitely don’t want to be playing these implied odds kind of hands in really, really shallow pots. But I don’t see this being a situation where we have to fold by any stretch. I think 3betting could be valid. I think calling is definitely valid. If I’m being totally honest, it kind of takes a crowbar and a stick of dynamite to get me away from a suited connector or a suited gap or anything that has a lot of playability and equity potential. I just see folding this being far too tight.

You also kind of notice this common thread. Just through the hand before you looked at it, you notice it going further, is that a lot of players as a pure default are playing on the nittier side of the spectrum. Maybe that’s because I set the stage as this is a default game, we don’t have any other info. But if you’re playing really, really tight in a game where you have no info and passing up on spots that can easily be plus EV by taking another line, I’d say that’s definitely something that you want to be looking within your game. A lot of people do this. I mean, this is a pretty good sample size, 5.6K poker players have taken this quiz and this is their kind of results and general answers.

I think if you’re following the mindset of just constantly folding and getting out of spots and playing really passively, I’d say you’re probably doing yourself a disservice to say the least. Read this article and find out why folding too often is a really bad idea

Poker Folds - Just Stop

5. $1/$2 with A3s

Next spot we have A3 suited. There’s a limp from EP3, MP2 decides to iso, and it’s to you. So in this situation, a lot of people said that they would fold, almost 2/3. Then the other answers are split pretty evenly between 3betting and just calling. In this situation, I think folding is going to be fine as a default. I think you should definitely look to squeeze. I think calling is not going to be the greatest thing. You’re not super, super deep. Also, if you call, chances are at least EP3 calls and now all of a sudden, you’re trying to play a suited ace out of position in a multi-way pot. That’s not going to be the easiest spot in the world and I don’t think it’s going to be the most profitable either. So, as such, I think folding here is totally fine. I don’t think you need to get out of line here.

Remember, you may look at this and say, “What the heck, Split? Like, two seconds ago, you said I should not be folding so often.” Remember, just because you shouldn’t fold, everything doesn’t mean that there aren’t situations definitely to fold, especially when you are out of position. When you’re going to be creating multi-way or not-so-great opportunities for yourself, you have to be aware of this situation as a whole. It’s not a black and white answer of just never fold. It’s, okay, what is this scenario I’m getting myself into and is this going to be profitable for my hand, for my skillset, for the math, for everything else that goes into the equation?

6. $1/$2 with QQ

Next we have QQ, so playing $1/$2, there’s a raise to $10, there’s a raise to call, and here we are. You notice that the average person, 92%, very large chunk, said that they would just 3bet this to $50, a couple of people said that they would call, and a couple of people said that they would fold. Obviously only 20% said that they would fold.

Just for the record, if you create poker quizzes or you’re thinking about creating quizzes ever, it’s always good to create kind of a trap door answer in at least one question. Essentially, what I mean by that is only trolls would answer this question with fold. So if I was being really diligent with the results, I would go back and say, “Okay, everyone who said fold, delete all of their answers.” That way you can get rid of people that are trolling answers or trolling your own quizzes. Just a side note for quiz makers out there.

So in this scenario, obviously the average person says 3bet. I would also be 3betting this as a pure default and just playing poker from there. Obviously you’re going to be a little leery if EP1 decides to 4bet, but I don’t think that’s happening a large chunk of the time. I think, more often, you’re getting flats, and, of course, I think you’re going to have a very, very good equity edge and also skill edge going forward.

7. $1/$2 with AJ

Next we have AJ, again, at $1/$2. There’s a raise, there’s a call, what are we doing here? So in this situation, a lot of people said that they would squeeze, some people said call, and then some people said fold.

Again, the folding part of the spectrum, I don’t really understand why you would be folding here. I think there’s definitely enough reason to get involved. If you’re going to get involved, I really like the squeeze in this scenario. This is kind of similar to the AT, right? We have position. We have a hand that does just fine. I’m really shocked to see that so many people would 3bet AJ here, but with AT off suit, very few people wanted to squeeze, which is a little bit weird. But that’s really good information because what we can glean from this that the average player pool, for whatever reason, views AJ as infinitely stronger than AT. Is that truly the case when you’re squeezing because think about the range that your opponents would give you action with? Is AJ really doing better than AT? Well, not by a large multiplier, that’s for sure.

In this situation, yes, I’m definitely going to be squeezing. If I’m looking to squeeze AT, I’m definitely going to be looking to squeeze AJ in a very similar scenario, so definitely on board with that.

8. $1/$2 with QQ

Next one we have QQ. Again in this scenario playing $1/$2. Limp, limp, limp and we’re in the small. Again, we have the trapdoor troll answer with 12 people saying that they would fold in this scenario. That’s pretty goofy. But most people are split obviously between raising to $22 and raising to $10. So people obviously understand the raise part of it, but I’d say they don’t necessarily understand the size part of it. And this is just a scenario where, yes, go with the larger bet size side of the spectrum. If I’m only giving you the two options between $10 here and $22 here, you should definitely be going the larger side of the spectrum. Raising just to $10, pretty much guarantees you’re going 4 if not 5-way to the flop, and it’s going to be pretty tricky to play that spot out versus going to $22.

I don’t think you’re going to go 4 or 5-way to it a large chunk of the time. You’ll probably go heads-up, maybe 3-way, and you’re going to have a bigger pot, you’re going to have a simpler SPR, and, of course, you can go for pure value from there.

So, again, think about this situation. Think about the spot that you’re creating and your edges, and what spot you’re creating and how it’s going to work out for you. Again, I think just going to $10 here would be a big, big no-no, and it would leave a lot of money on the table.

9. $2/$5 with AK

In this next spot, we have everyone’s favorite hand, AK. We’re playing $2/$5. There is a raise from EP3 and here we are. Again, trapdoor answer, found 26 trolls that said they wanted to fold. Obviously not going to be folding here. It’s between 3bet and calling. I’m actually really shocked that almost a quarter of people said that they wanted to call in this situation. Although, kind of not shocking though because a lot of the average answers tend to be on the nittier side of the spectrum. Again, I don’t really want you to fall into that trap.

I’d much rather see you play aggressive, fight for pots preflop and stop just always taking the passive or the nittier option. Again, the nittier option is oftentimes in this quiz between folding and/or calling. This is obviously a no-fold scenario. It’s just one of those where I don’t want to see you call with Ace King. What is calling accomplishing? Again, this is one of those spots where as a pure default, 3bet with Ace King. With information, there could be different spots where I could see calling here being much, much better, with certain information on EP3, with certain information on the players behind you. But as a pure default, you should definitely be 3betting and going from there.

10. $2/$5 with AA

Next situation, we have AA, playing $1/$2, there’s a limp, there’s an iso to $12, and we’re in the small. Again, the average person wants to 3bet, totally on board of that. There’s no reason at all to flat in this scenario. Again, I’m really shocked that so many people thought flatting was going to be the right idea. I mean, flatting, yes, will get EP3 involved a pretty large chunk of the time. I’m not saying flatting is awful, but as a pure default, I’m just going to 3bet and go from there. You don’t need to 3bet huge or anything. This isn’t a spot where you need to 3bet to $60. But I think if your 3bets are something like $35, I think cut off is going to be giving action a pretty large chunk of the time, and postflop is going to be pretty darn simple and value injected.

If you had information, yes, it could bend me towards flatting more often. But I think as a pure default going to a normal 3bet size is going to be just fine.

11. $1/$2 with QJ

Next situation, we have QJ offsuit. There’s a limp from EP1. There’s an iso from MP1, a call by MP2. So roughly 2/3 of people said that they wanted to fold here, the rest wanted to call, and then a very, very small chunk wanted to 3bet. And in this situation, I don’t really want to be calling. I think QJ off is going to perform pretty meh, and chances are you’re going to be going 5 or 6-way to it. You’re not going to have the deepest SPR when it comes to maneuverability postflop. 3betting, I’m not super, super stoked about this spot. I just don’t think that this is going to be a great one, so because of that, as a pure default, I’m going to fold here, too. Remember, folding can’t be the right option, but if you’re always, always taking the nitty option, again, that’s where you’re probably strategically going to be a little bit on the wrong side of the spectrum.

SPR & Commitment Levels

12. $1/$2 with 44

Alright, coming into the homestretch, we have 44, playing $1/$2. There’s a raise and a bunch of callers. What are we doing here? 84% of people said that they would call in this scenario. Very few said 3bet. Some people said fold. Again, not really sure why people are wanting to fold these set mine scenarios, but this is one where I’m definitely set mining as a pure default, just kind of play poker and go forward from there. I don’t see any reason to fold, and as a pure default, I wouldn’t squeeze this either. I think it’s going to be too hard to get it through, and it’s just a situation where I think flatting is going to be more profitable. So setmine and play poker from there.

13. $2/$5 with T9s

Next spot, we have T9 suited, playing $2/$5. There’s a raise, what are you doing, and the cutoff. A lot of people said that they would call, and then the other answers are not quite evenly split, but folding and 3betting. As a pure default, I’m going to call this as well. I mean, we’re 150 big blinds deep against EP2. We have position. We have a hand that does just fine. And with no information, I can’t assume that there’s aggressive squeezers or anything behind me, plus it’s live.

I don’t think there’s a lot of aggressive squeezers anyway unless that’s kind of known information. As such, I’m going to figure by flatting, I’ll probably pick up the button a pretty large chunk of the time and we just go forward from there. Again, stack depth position, hand playability, all things that I’m looking for, since I don’t have any other information on EP2, the players behind me, any of that sort of stuff.

14. $1/$2 with JTs

Next situation, we have JT suited, playing $1/$2. Folds to us in early middle, what are we doing? So 2/3 of people said that they would open raise here. I’m going to say at least half of those people are lying. I don’t mean that disrespectfully or anything, but I think they’re fooling themselves saying that as a default, they’re going to be opening JT suited from here. The main reason why I say this is because the average answer for this quiz so far has been on the nittier side of the spectrum. It is not a nitty thing to open JT suited from early middle. So as such, I think the average person is kind of bluffing themselves in this scenario. I think the average person is probably folding this more often than not. I do agree, I think some people are definitely limping it, and as a pure, pure default, I don’t really want to start a limping thing from early position.

Need an open-raising hand chart? Use this free open-raise range chart from RCP

That’s more when I have information on the table. I know how that’s going to work out. I don’t think I’m going to start that. And open raising, yeah, I mean, it’s just not a super-deep table or anything. It’s going to be very difficult to get position, probably going to be creating a pot that’s not great for you, and as such, probably just folding as a pure default. Again, I hate giving the nitty answer, but as a pure, pure default with no information, yeah, I don’t really see any reason to raise this from early middle, just give it what we have.

15. $1/$2 with JTs

Finally, we have final JT suited, last question of the quiz, playing $1/$2. There’s one limper from EP3, what are we doing here from the high jack. You notice that the answer is obviously largely to raise. A couple of people said that they would limp behind. Very few people said fold. The main thing is the size. Again, I gave two different options. I gave a 4x size and an 8x size. I’m actually really shocked that the 4x size is dominating by so much. This is a scenario where I much prefer to go to $16. The main reason is is because if you go to 8, I think you’re going multi-way to the flop a much larger chunk of the time. They see you raise, you’ve got two people that could contend position on you.

I think chances are that’s going to create a multi-way pot if you just to $8 here. Whereas if you raise to $16, you apply more pressure, you probably get rid of some hands that obviously you’re happy to get rid of, and you probably get a heads up or a no way pot more often. If it goes no way and I pick up five uncontested preflop, I’m not mad at that. If I end up getting called by EP3, I have position, I have skill edge, I have initiative, I have all these good things in my favor, then I’m much more on board with that. So I’m definitely going to be raising, but I would inverse my answer. I would raise to $16, definitely will not be raising to $8 as a default in this scenario.

That’s going to wrap it up for this video. I really hope you enjoyed it and I know this is a very different kind of video for this channel, but I’m hoping this is kind of the illuminating, looking at how the average person who took this quiz is answering these questions, how the average person in a player pool is probably thinking about these spots. If you really think about that, you can start to say, “Wait, wait, wait. So this is not like the average non-fish in my game,” because the average person who is taking this is not an ultra-fish. They’re just probably on the nittier tag side of the spectrum. So if you can understand how that person thinks about these kinds of default scenarios, that can massively help you take counter lines and figure out figure out what you want to do against them.

Hopefully this helps thinking about not only the average person, but also how my answers can sometimes quite massively differ from those, and how you can use that to your advantage. Again, thinking about these spots very logically, thinking about things conceptually, thinking about them in terms of edge and where your edges lie, and how you can craft plus EV lines around that.


My name is James "SplitSuit" Sweeney and I'm a poker player, coach, and author. I've released 300+ videos, coached 500+ players, and co-founded the training site Red Chip Poker. Contact me if you need any help improving your poker game!

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