9♦9♠ Facing a 3-Bet Cold Call, what do you do here?

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In a live $1-2 game, a Middle Position player raises to $6 and you 3-Bet to $18 with 9♦9♠ from MP2. The Hijack calls and it folds around the original raiser, who mucks. The flop comes 5♣T♠Q♦ and action is on you. What do you do here?

PRO ANSWER: After a raise in Middle Position we reraised with pocket nines. After our reraise, an opponent to our immediately left cold calls and everyone else folds. When players cold call (call when they have not previously put any money in the pot) behind multiple raises preflop this does several things to their overall hand range.

First, cold calling caps their range. Our opponent is unlikely to make this play with a huge hand like AA/KK. Cold calling with those hands invites other callers along which is very bad for their hand. Given that multiple players have already shown significant interest in the pot, they will typically reraise with these hands.

Second, it condenses their hand range. Typically when players call preflop their ranges can be fairly wide, but when they cold call behind multiple raises their hand range actually becomes much narrower because the hands they can potentially call with in that situation are significantly reduced.

Continued below...

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What happens when an opponent’s hand range is both capped and condensed is that it really clusters their hand range towards big cards that aren’t necessarily big enough for a reraise preflop. Hands like suited broadway cards, middle/big pairs like 88-QQ, and some off suit big cards as well like AQ/KQ.

Q-T-5 rainbow is actually an excellent flop for a capped, condensed hand range and we only have third pair (pocket nines), which is a hand that cannot withstand any sort of significant action.

While typically against a single opponent as the preflop raiser we want to be continuation betting frequently, this is a spot where our continuation bet is highly unlikely to work very often, and there are very few cards that will improve our hand on the turn if we get called.

Checking is the best play.

How would you play it?
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