A♥5♥ Facing a C-Bet, what do you do here?

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DECISION POINT:
In a live $1-2 game it folds around to you in the Cutoff with A♥5♥ and you raise to $10. The Button 3-bets to $30, both Blinds fold, and you call. You check the 9♠7♥K♦ flop and Villain continuation bets $16. Action is on you, what do you do here?

PRO ANSWER: In a cash game it folds to us in the Cutoff with Ah5h and we make a standard open to $10 (5BBs). The Button reraises to $30 and it folds back to us. If we are facing more passive players who tend to only 3-bet with narrow hand ranges, which is typical in some lower stakes cash games, you could easily toss this hand into the muck.

Against skilled players who are aggressive you must be willing to defend with a reasonable amount of your opening range or risk being potentially exploited by good players who recognize you will fold far too often to reraises. A5s is a reasonable hand to defend with against a Button who is capable of attacking our wide opening hand range with a variety of holdings, even considering it is near the bottom of our overall 3-bet defense range, so we call.

The flop is 9s7hKd. When we are out of position as the preflop caller we are going to be checking a vast majority of our range on most flops. Villain is going to have position and an overall range advantage as the preflop aggressor here. This will lead your opponent to likely be betting with a high frequency which makes a check/fold or check/raise betting line, to keep their overall range wide, a better option than leading into the Button with most hands.

Continued below...

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With just ace high and a backdoor flush draw this is no exception and we check. Our opponent continuation bets $16 into the $63 pot. If we let our opponent consistently bet 8BBs here and don’t defend, they will just be printing money against us when we fold too frequently. We need to have a balanced check-calling and check-raising range that includes some bluffs. Ideal candidates for bluffs are usually hands that can turn additional equity (like backdoor draws) as well as hands that tend to be in the bottom of our overall range in a given spot.

In this particular spot our defense range is made up of a lot of pocket pairs and suited broadway hands in addition to a few offsuit broadway hands plus some middle suited connectors. Most of that range connects with this board reasonably well leaving Ah5h both near the bottom of our range and a hand that can turn additional equity, making it an ideal hand to turn into one of our check/raise bluffing hands.

It is extremely important if we defend in this spot preflop that we can’t just play fit or fold poker postflop. Picking some spots to bluff and potentially picking up chips postflop is an important part of our overall plan here.

Raising is the best play.

How would you play it?
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