A♠Q♦ vs a Check-Raise, what do you do here?

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In a Tournament, it folds to a Middle Position player who limps in. You raise with A♠Q♦. It folds to the Small Blind who calls, as does the MP player. The Flop is A♣T♦6♥. The Small Blind and Middle Position player check. You bet, and the Small Blind raises. The Middle Position player folds. Action is on you, what do you do here?

PRO ANSWER: In general, we would continue against this check-raise from the SB in a heads-up pot. Given that we bet around 35% pot in a spot where we will often c-bet with a high frequency, the Small Blind could be check-raising with a number of hands that we have beat. The relatively low SPR of approximately 3.5 is an argument for continuing as well.

However, the presence of another opponent on the flop makes this situation worse for us, since it should narrow SB's check-raising range. That fact makes this spot much closer than it appears at first glance. Many opponents only check-raise a very narrow range with a third player still in the hand.

Whether or not to continue with AQ comes down to how many semi-bluff check-raises are in SB's range. Their semi-bluff check-raising range could consist of gutshots and backdoor draws such as KQ suited, KJs, QJs, 89s or 78s. If their range contains only value hands such as AT, A6s, 66, TT, AQ+, then we have a clear fold.

Continued below...

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Given that MP2 checked the flop and we bet ~ 35% pot in a high c-bet frequency spot, we should include a number of those type of semi-bluff combos in the SB's range as a default.

Against an opponent that rarely or never check-raises as a semi-bluff in a multiway pot, we can get away from our AQ. Facing opponents that are capable of check-raising here with gutshots and backdoor draws, we should continue with AQ.

As a default, we should assume our opponents are capable of bluffing some of the time here, so continuing with AQ will be a profitable play. Since there are so few chips left to play and Villain can often turn lots of equity, we should often reraise all-in on the flop instead of calling, even though calling would also be profitable.

Moving all-in is the best play.

How would you play it?
Share your answer in the comments below!


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