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Don't fold, just ask - FL: Tricky Spot

» Don't fold, just ask


There are moments in the life of every Pokerplayer in which the substantiated advice of a professional is extremely valuable. Going by the motto "together instead of alone" you can now get this well-grounded advice from our professional content team. This includes our content-chef, Onkel Hotte (Fixed Limit), Sammy (No limit, SNG), Wishmaster (Fixed Limit, Real-Life-Poker).


Question by Emrah

Fixed Limit

PokerStars 5/10 Hold'em (5 handed)
Preflop: Hero is SB with K K
1 fold, UTG raises, 1 fold, Button calls, Hero 3-bets, BB caps, UTG calls, Button calls, Hero calls.

Flop: (16 SB) 2 3 3 (3 players)
Hero checks, BB bets, UTG raises, Button 3-bets, Hero caps, BB calls, UTG calls, Button calls.

Turn: (15 BB) A (3 players)

Openraiser unknown, Coldcaller fishy, 3-Bettor TAG. Flopaction says: Either I am beat against AA or way ahead against smaller pocket pairs. A lone ace makes little sense.

How to play the turn? I want to have value from pockets, don't want to play bet/fold in this mega-pot, check/call sucks somehow, because we are 4 handed and they probably have a total of 6 outs against me. Its a tricky spot.


Answer from OnkelHotte

It is a tricky spot indeed. Lets take a look at all the streets and see where we are at.

Preflop is pretty easy. Nothing we can do wrong with KK here.

First question here is: Bet or C/R. Despite the Capping-Action we have hit a dream flop for KK. On this board nearly every Pre-flop-capping-hand will conti-bet. Hero can therefore trap the field by playing C/R.

Dr. rer. nat. Tobias Georgi, also known as Onkel Hotte, coordinates the work in the education section of PokerStrategy. As passionate and successful Fixed-Limit player he is well known in the community through his educational seminars for PokerStrategy.

Does this make Sense? No. The principle of protection (see the article: Protection (gold-status needed)) does apply in monster pots as well. Lets assume, BB bets, the other two call and Hero C/R. In this case Hero offers his opponents pot odds of at least 21 to 1. Therefore any hand with 2 outs = any pocket pair can call correctly. Furthermore any ace (3 outs) can stay in the hand without making a mistake. By C/R, Hero eliminated all his chances to protect at all.

However, if Hero bets, BB will still raise many hands like TT-QQ. In this case the opponents have 19 to 2 = 9.5 to 1. Only now, bad mistakes can be made by his opponents as blank aces would at least need pot odds of 15 to 1. This means that the opponents can fold here = giving up equity or they can make incorrect calls.

Conclusion: The best way to play on the flop is to simply donk into the capper who will protect for Hero.

Okay, Hero played Check/Cap, the original question was how to continue to play on the turn. In order to decide you have to calculate whether Hero is still favourite after the flop action.

In order to decide this we have to set ranges for the opponents. This is not easy at all, but you somehow have to try. They could look like this:

MP3: 22+, ATs+, KJs+, QJs, JTs, T9s, AJo+
Button : 22-TT, AQs-A3s, K8s+, QTs+, J9s+, T8s+, 98s, 87s, 76s, AQo-ATo, KTo+, QJo
BB: 99+, AQs+, Ako

The ranges of MP3 an the Button are not really relevant in this scenario as they should only have outs if they are holding an ace or a pocket pair. Many other hands like JTs are nearly drawing dead on the flop.

On the given flop, Hero has monsterequity of about 75%. The question is now, how much the action on the flop changed the equity and if Hero is still favourite in the hand after the turn card. Setting the ranges just by looking at the action is obviously not easy.

The question is: Could someone be holding an Ax?

Answer: You can't really rule it out. It is hard to imagine, but BB could really be holding AKs or even AKo. The player only bet on the flop and is it likely that he coldcalls three bets on the cap because he gives himself 6 outs correctly (+ possible backdoor flushdraw) if he is up against 3 pocket pairs below kings. We therefore have to watch out for AK at the BB. BB is offered 26 to 3 on the flop, nearly 9 to 1. With AKs a call on the flop wouldn't be a great mistake.

MP3 could, in my opinion, hold any pocket par or even A3s A3o. The same applies to the Button. For the BB the range stays the same after the flop action as it was before the flop because he could still be holding AK.

With the ranges that are seeing the flop the equity of hero would look like this. I have let Monte Carlo approximate the values as a four handed total analysis would take very long.

Board: 3c 3h 2s

Equity Won Draw Lost Hand
Player 1: 24.607 % 23.500 % 2.216 % 74.284 % 22-AA,A3o,A3s
Player 2: 21.625 % 20.421 % 2.411 % 77.169 % 55-AA,A3o,A3s
Player 3: 34.187 % 30.700 % 6.974 % 62.327 % KK
Player 4: 19.581 % 17.115 % 4.934 % 77.951 % AK,AA,KK,QQ,JJ

Hero is way ahead even after the flop action. If you were to put the Button on 54 as well, Hero would be at 30%.

The critical question is now to what extent the turn card changed Hero's equity. One thing is very clear though. According to Bayes, the fact that an ace came on the turn lowers the probability that someone is holding AA. A pocket pair can be made up of 6 combinations, but after the ace hit the board there are only 3 combinations possible left AA.

The EQ-analysis on the urn looks like this (this time you can calculate all the combinations and get accurate values)

Board: Ah 3c 3h 2s

Equity Won Draw Lost Hand
Player 1: 18,891% 18,398% 0,986% 80,616% 22-AA,A3o,A3s
Player 2: 15,457% 14,916% 1,082% 84,002% 55-AA,A3o,A3s
Player 3: 31,414% 29,164% 4,499% 66,337% KK
Player 4: 34,238% 32,667% 3,143% 64,191% AK,AA,KK,QQ,JJ

You can see here that the EQ of Hero doesn't change much because the ace made AA much more unlikely and could have only helped the BB if he is holding AK.

If you believe BB coldcalls the flop with AK and a backdoorflushdraw, only two combinations of AK remain A K or A K. AKs in is not possible anymore after the turn card.


Board: Ah 3c 3h 2s

Equity Won Draw Lost Hand
Player 1: 18,994% 18,400% 1,188% 80,412% 22-AA,A3o,A3s
Player 2: 15,942% 15,290% 1,304% 83,406% 55-AA,A3o,A3s
Player 3: 40,005% 37,090% 5,830% 57,080% KK
Player 4: 25,059% 23,073% 3,971% 72,956% AA,KK,QQ,JJ,AcKc,AsKs

Heroes EQ rises to >40%. If we didn't put BB on AK at all on the flop, the situation would look like this:

Board: Ah 3c 3h 2s

Equity Won Draw Lost Hand
Player 1: 19,023% 18,401% 1,244% 80,356% 22-AA,A3o,A3s
Player 2: 16,076% 15,393% 1,365% 83,241% 55-AA,A3o,A3s
Player 3: 42,372% 39,273% 6,197% 54,530% KK
Player 4: 22,530% 20,430% 4,200% 75,370% AA,KK,QQ,JJ

Without AK on the BB Hero reaches over 42% equity. You can see here that the question of whether Hero is favourite or not is dependent on whether BB could be holding AK or not. Through the ace on the turn, the equity of Hero even rises due to the mentioned reasons because the ace makes it more unlikely that someone is holding AA.

I have asked a couple of players what they would do with AKo if they were the BB on the flop after the Cap. Some said that they would fold and you therefore can't assume that BB could hold AKo in this scenario. Recapitulatory you can say that:

- Heros EQ on the turn is in any case above average.
- Hero is either a slight underdog or a very high favourite, depending on how BB plays AK.

It results for the turnplay:

Hero checks? If everyone checks, Hero gives away a freecard for mostly 6 outs, if everyone is holding a pocket pair. The pot on the turn is 15 BB. The 6 outs "cost" Hero nearly 2BB (6/46 x 15 BB). Besides Hero gives away 3 BB value because he often still has the best hand. The only advantage of a check is that Hero could fold the hand without paying any more money if the raisewar continues on the turn as well. However, he shouldn't risk a freecard here or give a way value.

Even though Hero is not top-favourite automatically he should bet here.

The reasons:
  • Even if there is only a little chance that BB would fold AK on the flop, Hero would make an equity-jump on the turn and stays favourite.
  • A freecard costs Hero about 2BB, if he holds the best hand. If Hero is faced with a raise on the turn it would only cost him one BB extra.
  • Hero has a valuebet on the river as well if his opponents only call on the turn. If you have a valuebet on the river after betting the turn, you should always bet yourself.

Therefore: Hero bets … But what to do if someone raises?

Hero would get 18 to 1 pot odds if someone raises on the turn. Hero can nearly call for setvalue even if he is drawing dead. If someone raises the hand is called and also called on the river for one BB to see the showdown. To fold the possible best hand in this situation would only cause unneeded patients at the psychologist.

Hero should only be thinking about folding if he is faced with two bets at the same time. For example if hero is faced with a raise and a three, he would have to fold.

Sitting in the sandwich the showdown could costs up to 7 furhter BB. The final potsize would be 35-40BB and Hero would have to win every fifth or sixth time, which is not enough for this investment.

If all opponents only call the turn, Hero should bet any rivercard. On average nobody has hit is set by then and in those monster pots the opponents call any hand out of curiosity anyways.

Summarising very shortly:
Hero bets the turn and pays 3 BB at max on the big streets! ;)

Regards Hotte