A♦J♦ on the River, what do you do here?
DECISION POINT: In a Tournament where blinds are 50/100 you raise first-in to 300 from Middle Position with A♦J♦ and both Hijack and Cutoff fold. The Button reraises 3x your bet and you call. You check the J♣6♠6♣ flop and call a bet of 1,450. Both players check the A♠ turn and the 4♥ comes on the river. Action is on you, what do you do here?
PRO ANSWER: In a Tournament with no antes in play it folds to us in MP2 with AJs and we raise to 3BBs. The Hijack and Cutoff fold and the Button reraises to 9BBs. All other players fold and action is back on us.
Against good, aggressive players we must be be prepared to defend a reasonable portion of our opening range or else our opponents can profit greatly by frequently 3-betting when we open. AJs is certainly a reasonable hand to defend with. If we had an opponent-specific read that they were 3-betting with a much narrower range we could make an exploitative fold, however that is not the case so we call.
The flop is J♣6♠6♣ which is one of the better one pair flops for us. We check and our opponent bets 14.5BBs into a 19.5BB pot. We have one of the better possible hands in our preflop calling range on this board even though this is a fairly large continuation bet. If we fold this hand we are folding practically our entire range. Check-raising serves no purpose as our opponent will likely fold all the hands we beat and continue with all the hands that beat us. Making a call in this situation is a far better play.
The turn is an ace which significantly improves our hand. The ace is a much better card for our opponent’s range than for ours (even if it is good for our particular holding) so they should be betting with a very high frequency when we check. We would much prefer to keep all the potential bluffs in their range and extract maximum value here so we check, and our opponent also checks.
The river is a rather innocuous 4h. When our opponent checks the turn it is quite likely they have a holding with significant equity that they didn’t want to get check-raised with. This could include hands like KK/QQ as well as hands like Ax club combos. Given that our hand unblocks clubs (we don’t hold any clubs) and blocks a lot of the second best hands that could call a reasonable bet here (AK/AQ), it makes a lot of sense to check and try to induce a bluff from our opponent or even a thin value bet with a worse hand such as Axc.
Betting would be the preferred line if we had an opponent specific read that they were not capable of bluffing often in this spot or that they regularly call with hands like KK/QQ to a reasonably sized bet.
However, against a solid opponent inducing bluffs is best specifically when our hand unblocks many of their best bluffing hands and blocks many of their second best value hands.
Checking is the best play.
How would you play it?
Share your answer in the comments below!
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