Poker Quiz! 3♣5♣ Facing a C-Bet, what do you do here?
DECISION POINT: In a tough Tournament where blinds are 100/200 with a 200 big blind ante it folds to the Cutoff who opens to 500. The Button and Small Blind fold and you call from the Big Blind with 3♣5♣. You check the J♥K♦4♣ flop and your opponent continuation bets 400.
Action is back on you, what do you do here?
PRO ANSWER: We are playing in a multi table tournament with blinds at 100/200 and a 200 big blind ante. The effective stacks are 10,000 chips to start and there are several tough opponents at the table. We are dealt 5c3c in the Big Blind and everyone folds to the Cutoff who opens to 500 chips. Both the Button and the Small Blind fold.
We don’t have a super strong hand here holding 53s preflop, however there are 1,000 chips in the pot and it costs only 300 more for us to call. We’re getting better than 3:1 immediate pot odds against a player with a very wide opening hand range. While we can fold many of the worst hands in our range here including offsuit combos like T2o, 53s is definitely good enough to continue considering the price. We make the call and it’s off to the flop.
The flop is JhKd4c. In this spot with relatively deep stacks in relation to the pot and both players hand ranges being wide, the Cutoff has a significant advantage by being the in position player. As is preferred when defending your blind by calling, we should be checking them with our entire hand range.
Continued Below ...
We check and the Cutoff bets 400 chips. A continuation bet sizing of approximately 1/3rd pot size is common in this scenario and the Cutoff will likely be using this size with a big part of their range. A good approach to countering this strategy of frequent c-betting with a likely wider range is to both do some check-calling to keep their range wide and get to controlled showdowns, and mix in some check-raises.
Our check-raising range should be a mix of some strong hands and some bluffing hands that have backdoor equity to account for the times when we are called. We do have good backdoor equity with 53s holding both a backdoor flush and backdoor straight draw. This board is reasonably coordinated and connects with much of our calling range as well. Taking these factors into consideration, we have a prime opportunity to check-raise and reverse the pressure back onto our opponent.
If we had opponent specific information that the Cutoff in this hand was opening with a much narrower than optimal range preflop, or they c-bet a lower than optimal frequency on the flop our approach would be different. We could make an exploitative fold either preflop or to their standard c-bet sizing on this board texture.
However, against good players who will be opening and continuation betting here appropriately, we must mix in some check-raise bluffs to balance and combat their strategy and this is a perfect opportunity.
Raising is the best play.
How would you play it?
Share your answer in the comments below!
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