K♥K♦ vs a Donk Lead, what do you do here?

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DECISION POINT: In a Tournament where blinds are 2,000/4,000 it folds to you in Middle Position with K♥K♦ and you raise. The Cutoff and Big Blind both call. Flop comes 9♦5♥2♦ and the BB leads out. Action is on you, what do you do here?

PRO ANSWER: We raise to just over 2.5 BBs from Middle Position with pocket kings. The Cutoff and the Big Blind call and we proceed to the flop. On the 9d5h2d flop the BB leads out for 20k into a 37.5k pot. Now we have to decide how to proceed with our kings.

Often times when a player leads into the preflop raiser as opposed to checking they are doing so in an attempt to either gain some information (players may do this as a way of asking “Is my hand good?”) or to generate fold equity. It is common for players to lead with big draws to try and generate some fold equity in a situation where they may not be getting pot and/or implied odds if they check and their opponent bets.

Continued below...

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On this particular board, that is relatively dry except for the diamond flush draw, our opponent’s hand range would consist of a lot of TT/9x/77 type hands as well as some flush draws or something like 43s. If our opponent balances their range properly they will occasionally show up with hands like pocket fives or pocket twos but there are not a lot of realistic two pair combinations on this board (is our opponent really calling preflop with 92?).

Given that particular range, if we just call here we are letting our opponent draw cheaply. Our opponent's medium strength made hands such as 9x or 77 will likely look worse to them on a vast majority of potential turn cards, as there are 18 remaining over cards to the 9 alone.

Our best chance to both maximize value versus the hands we are ahead of and deny equity to Villain's draws, is to raise now. This forces our opponent to either pay to draw or make a tough decision with a one-pair hand out of position.

Raising is the best play.

What would you do here?
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