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How do you play Aces: Part Two

We have a flop, and villain check raises all in. What do you do?

I know that I said that I would get this up two days ago, but it seems like the only time that I’ve been home has been to sleep the last two days.  A somewhat unexpected turn of events.  So with that aside, we’ll get back to the hand in question.  If you missed part one of this discussion on how you should play aces in this spot, check out the full post here.

In summary, we’re on level one of the $340 Buy in NLHE tournament and UTG raises to 150 at blinds of 25/50.  Two players make the call when action folds to me in position with Ac-Ad.  The first question that I asked was, “do you raise or do you call.” I’ve ruled out folding because that’s just flat ridiculous.  But there are a number of people who believe in the concept of calling in this spot, and exercising pot control on the flop, turn, and river.  It’s a strategy often employed in the early stages of tournaments with the thought of “I just don’t want to go broke holding only a pair.”  Top players in deep stacked tournaments practice this technique a great deal, and in most instances when you start out with 15k-30k starting stacks, I understand the play.

However, this tournament began with 6k starting stacks, and has only 30 minute levels.  In fact, by the time that the flop actually hit the table, the blinds had risen, and it’s not like you have the luxury of letting the blinds pass you by for 2-3 hours while you wait for a premium hand.  I think that in this spot a raise is necessary to isolate some of your opponents, and if you can pick up 525 extra chips (the amount that is now in the pot from the raiser, the two callers, and the blinds) then that’s an excellent result.

I decide to raise and make it a big one.  I cut out a T-500 Chip, and 3 T-100 chips, and decide to add some color to the raise adding 3 T-25 chips, for a raise of 875 total.  With the button and both blinds still to act, I’m thinking that anyone that wants to play this hand with me is going to have to have a pretty big hand in order to stick around, and maybe one that will 4-bet me.  This is the first time that I have 3-bet in the tournament, and despite being fairly active through the tournament, I’ve only showed down once, and I had the goods.  So 875 seemed to be a good raise to get the desired result of either folds around, just one caller, or getting a player to move in with a hand that I have crushed.

Action goes to the button who folds, but the small blind thinks for a while before cutting out the chips to make a call.  The big blind insta-folds, and the initial raiser thinks before also making the call.  The other two pre-flop callers get out of the way and we go to the flop three-handed.  The dealer burns and turns over a flop of:


I don’t hate this flop as I have to feel ahead of the range of both of my opponents.  Am I slightly worried that my opponents could have flopped a set?  A little, but really not that much.  I wouldn’t place either of the two villains that came along on a hand that would have stuck around to my raise on that small of a holding.  My range on the SB is probably JJ+, and my range on the UTG player includes the same range as well as AK.  So when the flop hits, my initial thought is “I hope that they check to me so that I can c-bet them off this hand and take the pot here, right now.  The pot is already 2,975 chips, and I’d be elated to win that much in this spot.

A couple more pieces of information.  After calling the pre-flop raise, the small blind has exactly 5,400 chips, and the UTG player has about 4k left.  Action starts with the small blind checking and the UTG player follows in turn with another check.  I get my wish and cut out a bet of 1,750, which I want to open up to discussion and see other players feel on this one as well, but we’ll get into that later.

The player in the SB tanks for about a minute and a half, and then check raises me all in.  The total on his shove was 5,400, so after the 1,750, it’s just 3,650 to call.  Action is now on the UTG player who is covered by both of us, and he debates his hand for about 30 seconds, before finally showing his cards to the guy next to him as he tosses them into the muck.  When that happens, action is back on me where I’m faced with making a call of 3,650 or letting it go.

So here’s the questions:

1) Are you making a continuation bet on the flop?  If no, why not?  If yes, what amount are you making it and why?  And do you agree or disagree with the 1,750 raise?

2) What is your range for the villain in the SB where a Check/Raise shove makes sense?  Are you thinking flush draw?  Flopped Set?  Straight?  Straight draw?  Air? Let’s hear what hand you think he actually has that he could call the 875 pre-flop, and then check raise all in on the 8c-7s-6c flop.

3) Are you calling the check/raise shove for 3,650 more.  If you make the call and win, you’ll be sitting on a stack of roughly 16K.  If you lose, you’ll be left with about 2,500 chips with blinds going to 50/100.  After the shove, there is now 10,125 in the pot, and 3,650 to call.  You math geeks can weigh in here as well.

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  1. Cabbagee
    February 17th, 2012 at 03:15 | #1

    Paul, I wish you had developed the post up to the point of knowing the SB and UTG both checked. Regardless, you saved having to write another Part 3 and 4 by developing the hand to the SB check/shove.

    While you don’t hate the flop, I am certainly concerned that it is coordinated. My first guess is the UTG is raising/calling with hand like AKx/AQs or a stronger pair like 10s – Queens. The SB call feels more like a medium pair like 5s-Js that is willing to set mine. I don’t put SB calling with a AK type hand as I would think he would raise pre-flop instead of a flat call which I why I feel he is set mining.

    It is checked around and you want to take it down now so straights or flushes don’t catch up. No free card yet at the same time you should abstract a bit more information or take it down. I am going to bet enough to make the draws uncomfortable to risk another river bet. Your bet size is perfect. I would have bet about 3/4 pot size, and since i would be lazy with estimates, probably put out 1800 which is the same as your 1750.

    The SB check raise does not feel like a bluff at all. What could he think you have other than an over pair? Nothing. I think your hand is fairly well known to be a big pair. AK is the only other hand and you would likely check behind if that was the case. So he is either ahead now with a set, or the only hand that make sense is a pair of 10s. He probably has the set and hoping you will fall to the disease of not getting away from your KK or AA.

    Final decision — drop the one pair of aces, or risk 3600 to win 10000 to grow your stack to 16K. Sure you only have to be right ~1 in 4 to think your decision is right and if you are right, you have a nice stack early. Where do you stand if you only have 2500 remaining — way below avg. Can you still compete if you folded and therefore fell back to the starting 6K stack — yes. I might be a nit, but I fold my aces thinking he has a set as I am only a 8% on the turn and 5% on the river to beat with set over set. No thanks, I will be patient and wait.

    Summary – great bet size on the c-bet and hard lay down on the check/raise, but that is my choice.

    Certainly there are a couple other hands he could have played that way such as Kings or 9-10c, J-10c. Wth Kings, he calls the pre-flop 3-bets hoping that no ace hits the flop. If so, he would let you put in one more bet in before putting down the hammer. But I still think he has a set.

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