Pocket Nines vs a 3-Bet, what would you do here?

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DECISION POINT:
In a Cash Game, you raise from Under the Gun with 9♠9♣. The player to your direct left 3-Bets and it folds around back to you. Action is on you, what do you do here?

PRO ANSWER: You raise UTG in a full-ring live $1-3 NL Hold’em cash game and the player next to act reraises you, what do you do with 99?

In a full-ring No-Limit Hold’em cash game, the range of hands that a player should open raise with Under the Gun (UTG) should be fairly narrow. When an unknown player in early position 3-Bets the UTG raiser, you can assume they have a big hand (QQ+, AK+) by default, since most opponents in a live $1-3 cash game would reraise only with big hands in these positions.

If our opponent only holds pairs QQ or higher or AK, we are a significant underdog with 99. We are not getting the right price to call for set value, so we should fold. Stacks would need to be much deeper in order to justify calling for set value.

Continued below...

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Generally, you should not invest more than about 7% of the effective stack preflop when only playing for set value. In this case, the call of $35 more represents more than 10% of the effective stack.

Our estimate of our opponent’s hand range dramatically affects the ideal play with 99 in this hand. Against an unknown opponent in a live $1-3 cash game, this is a fold by default.

Against opponents that reraise with many more hands, we may be able to continue with our 99. However, with early position reraises in a full ring game, we must be capable of folding good pairs preflop.

Folding is the best play.

How would you play it?
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