Q♣9♣ From the Cutoff, what do you do here?
DECISION POINT: In a $2-5 game the action folds to you in the Cutoff and you raise to $15 with Q♣9♣. The Button and Small Blind fold and the Big Blind calls. Your opponent checks the 3♠K♦2♠ flop, you bet $10 and get called. The Big Blind checks the A♦ turn and action is on you. What do you do here?
PRO ANSWER: We are playing in a 100BB deep $2-5 cash game with no significant information on our opponents. Action folds around to us with Qc9c in the Cutoff. We make a standard opening raise to $15 (3BBs) and it folds around to the Big Blind who just calls.
The flop is 3sKd2s and the Big Blind checks to us. When deciding if we want to continuation bet one of the primary driving factors is which player has a significant range advantage. In this case, as the preflop raiser we have far more Kx hands in our range than our opponent does. On top of that, we also have all of the strongest hands like KK/AK/AA in this spot that our opponent is very unlikely to have given that they would have reraised preflop with most of these holdings.
It is possible our opponent holds a hand such as 22/33, however those hands are in our range as well and in this spot we have an overwhelming range advantage. Even though our particular hand is only queen high with no real draw we’re going to be betting nearly our entire range in this spot given our range advantage. Since the flop is quite dry we don’t have to make a very large continuation bet in this spot to still be effective so we elect to continuation bet $10 (2BBs) and the Big Blind flat calls.
The turn is the Ad and our opponent checks to us. We still just have queen high with no draw. If we consider the opponent’s range in this spot they would not only call our small flop bet with hands like Kx/3x/2x/flush draws but they would also call with all combinations of 44-TT that they didn’t reraise us with preflop plus some ace high type hands that have now improved.
When we look at the overall ranges of both players and how they interact, there are a lot more Ax hands in our range here in addition to still having the very strongest hands such as AA/KK/AK. This is a spot where because it is cutoff vs Big Blind and because we continuation bet relatively small on the flop our opponent still has many weak hands in their range. We still have an overwhelming range advantage as well as a significant nut advantage, meaning our range contains more of the very strong hands than our opponent does.
In these spots it is very difficult for our opponent to continue profitably with a vast majority of their range. Running this spot in a GTO simulator the recommended strategy is mixed with the preferred options of betting 13BBs 30% of the time (an overbet) and betting 7BBs or closer to 2/3 of the pot 41% of the time. The solver recommends checking 18% of the time and betting small again 11% of the time.
The important takeaway is that we should be betting a majority of the time here. Many players miss out on excellent two barreling opportunities such as these because they become too focused on the fact that they just have queen high.
Betting is the correct play.
How would you play it?
Share your answer in the comments below!
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