Hi and welcome to Poker Bites. For this edition, we dig into one of the oldest debates of No Limit Hold’em Poker: Is top pair good enough to call down? Every situation in Poker is unique so there is no general answer but the members of Team PokerStars Online have some valuable tips for you. Today we are with Randy ‘nanonoko’ Lew on a $25/$50 table with Ace-Queen on the button.
Everyone folds and Randy raises. The player sitting in the Small Blind raises so we have our first decision. Should we fold, call or raise again? Ace-Queen is usually a hand that falls squarely in my flatting range in this situation. It’s just one of those hands that doesn’t play too well if all the money goes in here, but yet dominates a ton of hands that the small blind could be three-betting. I think if the small blind is three-betting this spot an absurd amount and is just overall an aggressive player, I don’t think that it’s a mistake to just four-bet and get the money in and I think that’s a viable option http://oncasinogames.com/canada/slots/mega-moolah-slot-microgaming/.
But without any specific reads and in general, I think this is a pretty standard flat. 4 betting is a viable option but with a strong hand in position, calling an seeing a Flop is what you want to do most of the time. Randy agrees and we see a Flop of 8 of hearts Queen of Clubs and Ten of spades. Hit top pair so a pretty decent flop. But not a flop that we would necessarily consider raising. He could have over pairs, he could have straights, two pairs, and sets.
So we are happy with our hand, but not absolutely loving it. Player_2 decides to continuation bet half-pot on Queen-Ten-Eight rainbow and I decide to just call. I think it’s fine to just call here, and I think that by raising I’m actually overplaying my hand. By raising I’m getting my opponent to fold the worst hand, usually, and if he’s got a better hand than me then I’m going to get in a lot of chips very badly.
By calling I let the bluffs stay in, and I can react well to turn cards that I feel are bad for me. The king and the jack are the two main cards that I'm worried about, because when someone re-raises you preflop a large part of their range is ace king, and the king and the jack would hit ace-king very well, so I would not like to see those cards. Other than that I’m pretty happy to call, and if those cards don't roll off maybe consider calling down if I feel my opponent is bluffing a good amount here. By raising, our opponent would fold a lot of hands that are worth keeping in and continue with many hands that beat us, which is why calling is a good idea. The Turn bricks off and our opponent bets again. So at this point, given that the turn was basically a complete brick, I think Player_2 can still be barreling fairly wide.
He can be barreling gut shots like Ace-King, other straight draws, basically all Jack-x I guess. He could definitely even be betting worse for value, like I’m pretty sure he has all combos of King-Queen in this spot that we actually beat, maybe he sometimes plays Queen-Jack like this too. So I think that we beat at least a portion of his value range, and then I also think Player_2 would still continue betting lots of semi bluffs. And he might have actually picked up a flush draw with that heart, because I don't think it would be uncommon for them to bet something like Ace-Nine of hearts on the flop and then double barrel now that they picked up the flush draw on the turn as well.
So I think that we’re ahead of enough stuff, and they might just have some complete air balls in there as well, that folding is still out of the question. Whether we raise or fold is going to come down to a couple of things. First of all, we don’t want to just blow him off of his bluffs, but more importantly than that we don't want to raise our good hands here for the same reasons that we don't want to raise them all on the flop. That's because if we are raising all of our good hands here, it just leaves our calling range so weak.
If our opponent knows that we are raising our good hands on the turn here, they can just bet every river and put so much pressure on our range that we can't really call too often. As I was saying before, if we are raising top pair or better here then the hands that we are left with are like Ten-x, basically, and those hands are going to have a real tough time calling on the river. So I think it's mostly important to just call with a hand in this spot as strong as Ace-Queen to protect our calling range. Because if our opponent knows we have strong hands in our range, then we are just going to get to see more showdowns with hands that we want to see showdowns with. Ten-x, pocket nines, something like that, hands that just want to see a cheaper showdown because they aren't really beating much of a player’s value range.
So I do like calling here, let's see what Nanonoko does. And he does call. Tyler just added another great argument: Calling with strong hands might help us seeing more showdowns in the future, because calls will be perceived as strong by our opponents. The River brings the Six of Hearts, completing a possible backdoor Flush draw.
Fairly blank river. It completes the flush, so he’s going to have that sometimes, but he’s got plenty of potential bluffs. He could have Ace-King, Ace-Jack, just loads of stuff, you can see all of the possibilities. So I think, yeah, just call it off with a hand pretty high in our range. There’s even some chance that we have the same hand, some people might, so call it off. My hand looks kind of weak.
It looks like either King-Queen, Ace-Queen, Jack-Ten, those kind of like pair or straight draw type hands. He’s representing a lot of strength here. Because my hand looks really weak I ultimately decide to call here.
Also because I felt my opponent would try and move me off of these hands. Now had I been playing a different opponent, where I felt he would be a little bit tighter and not shove all-in on the river after betting twice, then I would just fold to that kind of opponent. And the main thing to consider is, who is your opponent and how does your hand look to him, and what do you think he would do against the hand that it looks like you have. In this scenario I felt that my opponent would try and bluff me off of a hand when I just called these multiple streets, and he shows up with Ace-Jack offsuit and I win the pot. We look kind of weak in our opponents eyes and there a lot of possible hands that missed their draws which is why calling again is a good play.
But Randy also admits that he usually folds those hands versus tight opponents. Always try to think of what your opponent thinks YOU have. This makes it easier to decide whether top pair is good enough to call down or not.