2-Pair on the River, what do you do here?
DECISION POINT: In a Tournament a Middle Position player and the Cutoff limp into the pot. You raise 3x from the Small Blind with K♠J♣ and both MP1 and Cutoff call. You c-bet the K♦T♣4♦ flop and only the Cutoff calls. Villain calls your bet on the J♦ turn. The river is 2♦ and action is on you. What do you do here?
PRO ANSWER: We are in the Small Blind with KJo and both the MP1 and the Cutoff limp. Our hand is well ahead of both opponent's limping ranges so a raise is in order. A typical raise sizing here is 3x the big blind (1200) plus 1 big blind for each limper which in this instance equals a total bet amount of 2000. Often times we should add an additional big blind since we are out of position making 2,400 an optimal raise. In this instance however, we decide to only make it 1,600 and both of our opponents predictably call.
The flop comes KdTc4d. This is a coordinated board but our top pair with decent kicker still figures to be best and betting somewhere in the neighborhood of ⅔ to ¾ pot is ideal. We bet 3,000 which is probably a little less than optimal but still a reasonable bet size for this spot. MP1 folds and the Cutoff calls.
The turn is the Jd. This is a great card for us because it gives us two pair, but can also be a bad card in that it completes the obvious flush draw. Our hand is still strong enough to justify betting here but suited diamonds are definitely in our opponent’s range given that they limp/called preflop and then called this flop. We bet just over half pot at 6,500 and our opponent calls.
The river is the 2d. This card is terrible for us as it completes a 4-card diamond flush draw, and both of our cards are black. This is an extremely tough spot for us because our hand, which was strong on earlier streets, really only beats a bluff now if additional money goes into the pot.
Considering their likely range based on actions in the hand in order to have called the flop and turn our opponent either must have a diamond in their hand (or two!) or some sort of medium strength made hand. While some players are sophisticated enough to turn a hand like ATs into a bluff here, most players are pretty happy to just take their medium strength hands to showdown.
Because our opponent’s hand range shouldn’t have many bluffs in it (even a hand like QJs which was a draw on the flop has something now) we can check and safely fold to a bet. That doesn’t mean we will never get bluffed, but our opponent’s range has very few natural bluffs in it, meaning we should be behind a majority of the time when our opponent bets.
Checking (then folding to a bet) is the best play.
What would you do here?
Share your answer in the comments below!
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