Poker Quiz! On the River with T♠9♠, what do you do here?


In a live $5-10 cash session at a brand new table the action folds to the Cutoff who open raises to $30, it folds to you in the Big Blind with T♠9♠ and you call. You check the 4♣9♥7♥ flop, the Cutoff bets $50, and you call. The 2♣ turn is checked. The river comes J♠ and action is on you. What do you do here?

PRO ANSWER: We are playing a new $5-10 table that just started with mostly unknown players. Stacks are around $1,000 (100BBs) deep. We are dealt Ts9s in the Big Blind and action folds around to the Cutoff who opens to $30 and everyone else folds. Our specific hand, T9s can have a mixed 3-betting strategy out of the Big Blind of around 25% but most of the time it’s a pretty standard defend as a call and that is the line we choose to take.

The flop is 4c9h7h. We have a fairly strong hand here after flopping top pair out of the Big Blind, however when two players are deep stacked with wide ranges the player in position often has a significant advantage. In this situation the default play with virtually our entire range will be to check to the preflop raiser, so we check and the Cutoff bets $50.

On this type of coordinated board that connects with our range fairly well we can expect the Cutoff to continuation bet less frequently, but with a bigger sizing. We would be forced to fold hands like Ac3c or pocket twos here, but top pair is simply too strong. Raising would bloat the pot out of position and make navigating future streets very difficult as many board runouts are going to be quite poor for our specific holding. Calling is the only real option here.

The turn is the 2c which is likely to change very little for either player’s range. While it’s possible the Cutoff is on some sort of draw, our hand benefits a lot from keeping their range wide and attempting to realize our full equity at showdown. We check and our opponent checks back.

Continued below...

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The river is a Js and we have a decision to make. Our overall hand range includes a A LOT of potential bluffing candidates with hands such as flush draws, 65s, and 86s. When our range contains a lot of bluffing candidates it incentivizes our opponent to call lighter and we get to value bet much thinner. If the Cutoff does have us beat in this spot with a stronger hand such as AJ we are going to pay off a bet in this spot fairly often, so a check isn’t really saving us money against the hands that beat us. Checking will however cost us chips against many of the hands we beat.

Leading the river here also gives us the opportunity to set the size of the bet, which could potentially be smaller than the Cutoff's value bet sizing with hands in their range that beat us. We do cause folds from hands like missed flush draws that might try to bluff when we choose to lead here, which is a potential drawback to betting the river.

When we analyze how our range interacts with the Cutoff’s entire range, it makes a lot of sense to bet on the smaller side. By betting small we set a great price for many potential bluffs and get thin value out of many of our hands, against a Villain who has a very capped range after checking back the turn with multiple flush and straight draws present.

Betting small ($40) is the correct play.

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

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