How To Play Top Pair Against A Check-Raise

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In this article/video we look at the power of  the 3bet and, learn why underestimating the significance of aggression can leave you stumped! Aybars just wants me to review this hand played at 50 No Limit. In this situation, we’re on the button with A♦J♠ there’s a raise, and Hero decides to call…

Calling in this spot can be okay, at least you’re utilizing your button, I’m happy about that. I would consider going for a three bet at least, but I’m at least giving action in some way, so at least I’m happy you’re not folding.

End up getting called by Free Cash, go three way to it, check, check, you decide to bet, totally standard so far, everything looks really good. End up facing a 3X check raise from Free Cash, the original raiser folds and Hero decides to call.

Let’s start by backing up one quick tick and start from here. First and foremost, I like to ask myself, are there any legitimate, super-strong combos that Free Cash can have? Now, I think that if he had aces or queens, all those hands get 3 bet pre-flop. I think even ace/queen gets 3 bet pre-flop, to be totally honest, so I think there’s like no top sets, there’s no middle sets, there’s no top two pair, I think all those things are essentially washed.

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There is exactly one combination of ace/seven suited, not super worried about one combo, there are three combinations of pocket sevens, okay.

Then there are the draws. There are varying kinds of draws, there are things like king/ten, which has a gut shot. There are things like two spades, which have flush draws. There are things like ace/X of spades, which have a lot of equity and are reasonable, but we’re always going to have them kicker dominated, which is a benefit because I assume they probably 3 bet pre-flop with ace/king.

So we’re in a situation where Free Cash just simply cannot show up with that many super strong hands and that’s obviously to our benefit. I would heavily consider jamming this, as opposed to just flatting. Flatting can be okay, if you think that Free Cash has just a tremendous amount of bluffs in his range and you think that if you call, he’s going to continue firing at the pot, by all means call, induce the bluff on the turn, give it action, be super happy.

If you’re playing against someone else, I would heavily consider going for a three ball here and just going forward and just stacking it off and feel I’m pretty comfortable thinking that a lot of players who do this will stack it off with things like draws or maybe they’re overvalued, like an A9s type tying. Totally cool with all of that as well.

This is partially a function of it’s just really difficult for him to have a decently strong hand, just given the board texture, given the combos, given what he probably would have three bet with pre-flop, which means that a lot of his range is probably going to be draw or possibly like overvalued ace/x or “I just want to apply pressure and see how sticky I can get this person to become.”

Again, I always want to play really aggressive poker. Also, one of the other things you have to consider is that if you do just call here, if Free Cash can hand read at all, you represent like ace/X that doesn’t really want to go anywhere, queen/X that maybe doesn’t want to go anywhere, and then maybe a couple of draws, but most players will play draws more aggressively, so it’s expected that those will three ball as well.

So again, we’re kind of back to a situation where you can go either way. I’m not really going to fold here, unless Free Cash is like the biggest alternate in the world and I know he wouldn’t three bet pre-flop with ace/queen and even still, I don’t love it, but that’s against a very, very specific player with very, very specific information. Typically I am going to be giving action.

When I give action though, particularly when I give action by calling, I have to have that future plan because at this point, 23 in the middle, 27 back, this is a situation where it’s very, very easy and expected that stacks are going to get in somehow. So I need to have that plan, am I going to stack off on future streets or not?

50-leakfinder-3-525x363All of that being said brings us to the turn, ten of hearts, and Free Cash decides to drill it and Hero decides to fold. This is my biggest issue with Hero’s hand, is if you’re going to call the check raise, what does the ten really change? Shy of filling up exactly king/jack or ace/ten, there’s just not a lot of things the ten is going to scare me about. Maybe it even gave them a pair with his spade draw, something like that. That’s certainly reasonable.

This is just one of those where if I call the flop, I’m definitely calling the turn. The whole reason why I would call the flop is to induce on turns, which means I have to be prepared to get sticky on those cards.

Just remember that, if you’re ever in a situation, you’re calling and you’re putting yourself in a situation where there’s like roughly 1 times the pot left, maybe 1.5 times the pot left, you need to have that plan before you even call the original bet. Know what you’re going to do on those future cards.

For me personally, my plan was to call the check raise, if I were going to call, call the check raise and then call all turn shoves, this would definitely fit the bill. I definitely don’t want to be folding here, I think I’m unfortunately letting flush draws play a little too close to perfect in this situation.

SplitSuit

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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