Playing A Pair + Draw With Ace Queen

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In this 5NL hand, Hero decides to open with ace/queen suited from early position, standard so far. Folds around, faces a 3-bet from the small blind and here we are.

Gonzalo asked about his pre-flop decision where he does decide to end up making the call and I’m totally on board with making this call as well. It’s one where we have position, we’re getting 2:1, we have decent cards and I’m totally okay with this. Now, are we going to be dominated sometimes by things like ace/king and kings plus? For sure. But I think that with position, with skill, we’re going to be able to do just fine here and we do it with a little bit of extra stacked, that’s what makes things a little bit more fun as well.

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Definitely not going to be relinquishing my equity, definitely going to be seeing a flop and going from there. Ends up flopping top pair, second kicker. Faces a roughly half-pot C-bet and Hero decides to make the call.

A lot of players will call here as well and they’re probably planning to go like call, call, evaluate or maybe just call, call, call. That’s typically what players are going to do when they call here. I’m not saying that’s necessarily wrong or bad, I’m just saying make sure that you’re thinking about that and thinking about how you could represent bluffs. Sometimes you’re going to be sitting here with things like king/queen or pocket nines that you’re not going to want to go call, call, call with.

Always ask yourself, “What would I do here with a bluff?” Conversely, when you’re sitting here with a bluff, ask yourself, “What would I do with a real hand?” Somewhere in there is going to be your answer.

What I’m really trying to highlight here is yes, typically you’re probably going to end up going call, call, call because most people do. But I want you to at least always consider what would I do with the inverse hand strength and how can I use that to make a better decision right this moment?

If I would raise bluffs, do I have to raise ace/queen here sometimes for maybe a thinner value, but to also make sure that my range isn’t just air when I decide to raise somewhere along the line—if that’s making sense. A little bit of an advanced concept, it probably honestly doesn’t really apply at 5NL unless you’re playing against a reg or something and that was not given to me in the original question.

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I’m just kind of giving you some extra food for thought to chew on. I do assume that the typical player is going to go call, call, call, because most turn cards aren’t really going to change anything. I mean, obviously a spade is cool for us because it gives us extra equity, but everything other than that is pretty much just going to be a total brick.

I mean, even a four or a five, yes, puts the four straight on board, but we’re not really assuming that our opponent is going to be having many straights when that comes through, so we don’t really care too much about that. Most turn and river combos are not going to change the texture a tremendous amount, so keep that in mind.

In this situation, Gonzalo does decide to make the flop call, turn does actually end up picking up the spade, faces another bet and Hero decides to rip it.

If the original plan on the flop was to go call, call, call all the way down, I would not change that plan and start shoving when we ended up picking up the flush draw on the turn. Simply because the whole reason why you go into a call, call, call mode is you’re trying to make sure that you don’t just jam and throw yourself in against aces and ace/king and get folds from everything else, because that’s generally the thought process that comes in when you’re considering going for call, call, call.

Check this article out for a guide on Creating A Preflop Plan

Because of that, I don’t really see ripping here doing anything. You’ll lose the max when you’re behind. Yes, you get it in with some equity, but you’re losing the max and you’re probably not getting him to make very many mistakes with things like pocket queens or total air, and he’s probably not going to fold to his king either.

It’s just one of those where nothing good happens by ripping here, in my opinion. If you were taking the flop line of call, call, call, I don’t deviate from that now, even though we picked up extra equity. Just take the 3:1, make a river decision, go from there rather than shoving, only getting it in when your opponent has ace/king or better and then losing the maximum from there.

Again, this hand is just one of those where the most important point is the turn, should you rip it or should you not rip it, but also the conceptual thought process on the flop of how would I play air here? Is it important how I would play air? Meaning if your opponent is not a good player who can’t think really well, don’t worry so much about what you represent, because he can’t think about it, he can’t figure it out, so don’t worry about it.

But when you’re playing against better players, consider what you’re representing, consider how would I play bluffs, how would I play big hands here? Do I have any big hands here or would I take mostly a call, call line with my range? Then consider that moving forward.

Again, as played pre-flop decision, I thought it was totally fine. Then the turn decision, I think was pretty bad. I think we’re just leaving money on the table by just ripping into his nuts, essentially. All we’re doing is getting him to fold on things like jacks on the turn, which—meh—whatever.

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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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