J♦J♥ Facing a Preflop Raise, what do you do here?
DECISION POINT: In a live $2-5 cash game, an Under the Gun player raises to $20. A Middle Position player, the Hijack, and Cutoff all call. It folds to you in the Big Blind with J♦J♥ and action is on you. What do you do here?
PRO ANSWER: A player in Early Position raises to $20 and three players call before it comes around to us in the Big Blind. Pocket jacks is a top starting hand, however we still want to evaluate this situation to make the best use of our chips. To do that we first need to evaluate calling preflop.
If we view poker like a multiple choice test, we have three options: raising, calling, or folding. If we can rule out one of those option we are much more likely to make a correct decision.
Evaluating whether calling will be profitable in this spot is relatively straightforward, and if we know calling is profitable then we can rule out folding as an option.
In this spot we have a hand that plays well multiway, as all pocket pairs can be played speculatively in multiway pots. The call amount is for a relatively small percentage of our stack, approximately 1% of the effective stack. We also are guaranteed to see a flop if we call as we close the action. All of these factors are excellent reasons why calling is profitable.
Once we rule out folding and we know calling is profitable, we can determine if raising may be MORE profitable.
An early position raiser likely has a range of something like 88+/AJ+/KQ. Against that range we are an equity favorite preflop (roughly 54.7%) but we will have to play out of position and deep stacked potentially against multiple opponents.
Raising may be profitable some of the time here but considering all the factors we listed it is tough for us to make a compelling case that raising is MORE profitable than just calling. Absent having an opponent specific read, calling is best.
Calling is the best play.
What would you do here?
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