A♠J♥ vs UTG+1 Raise, what do you do here?

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Decision Point: In a Cash Game, the UTG+1 player raises and everyone folds. You have A♠J♥ on the Button. Action is on you, what do you do here?

Pro Answer: Many players make the mistake in their preflop decision-making process of viewing hands like a hierarchy. They believe they should raise with really strong hands, fold with weak hands and call with medium-strength hands. If they have a hand that’s too good to fold but not good enough to raise, players tend to think calling is the best play.

This is not a good way to think about poker situations. When making preflop decisions we always want to put ourselves in the best possible postflop situation for our hand.

Here we have AJ offsuit on the Button. Certainly this is a well above average hand for the Button. If the action had folded around to us, then we would definitely come in for a raise first into the pot.

However, in this situation we are facing an early position raise from an unknown player. Since early position players tend to have strong hand ranges and the raise came from an unknown player, we would assume a hand range like pocket Tens or better or AQ or better (TT+/AQ+). Our AJ is well behind that range, so we should elect to fold.

We see many players calling in situations like this because they think a hand like AJ is “too good to fold” but not “good enough to raise”. Calling in this spot creates a terrible situation for you. In most cases when significant money goes into the pot post flop here AJ will be dominated.

Folding is the best play.

What would you do here?
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