Q♥Q♦ Facing a River All-In, what do you do here?
DECISION POINT: In a Tournament a Middle Position player raises and it folds to you in the Big Blind. You 3-Bet with Q♥Q♦ and get a call. On the 8♠A♥J♣ flop you bet and MP2 calls. You check the 4♦ turn, MP2 bets, and you call. The river is 5♠ and you check. Your opponent goes all-in and action is on you. What do you do here?
PRO ANSWER: We are dealt pocket queens in the Big Blind. It is folded to MP2 who raises to 2.5 BBs. It folds to us and we reraise to 10 BBs and our opponent flat calls. The flop is 8sAhJc. With a stack to pot ratio (SPR) of just under 2 here it’s very difficult to get away from our hand. So the question is: how we can extract the most value out of our Pocket Queens?
A pure GTO solution to this situation involves a mixed strategy of checking to induce bluffs as well as betting extremely small (around 5.5 BBs). Both of these strategies keep our opponent’s range extremely wide and allow them to either bluff with much of their range (when we check) or call with worse hands than ours (when we bet small). In this situation we elect to make a small bet of 5.5 BBs and our opponent calls.
The turn is the 4d, which changes very little. Given our small bet on the flop we have encouraged our opponent to float (a float is when someone calls the flop to take the pot away on a later street) with a wide range. This means checking to them makes a lot of sense here to potentially encourage bets from many of the back door flush draws, weaker hands, and pure air that is in our opponent’s range. We check and our opponent bets 8 BBs.
Against tougher opponents who are capable of fighting for pots in this spot it is very important that we call here or else we have set our opponent up to be able to float us VERY profitably in this spot with their entire range. Against very straightforward opponents who are not capable of floating or bluffing with the correct frequencies we could make an exploitative fold here, but against tougher opponents we must call and we do.
The river is the 5s which changes very little given neither of our ranges rarely connect with it. We check and our opponent moves all-in. This is an extremely difficult spot versus a tough opponent. We’re getting nearly 3:1 on our money so before considering any other tournament factors, we need our opponent to be bluffing here around 25% of the time as we should only beat a bluff. If you use a GTO solver on this problem, it actually recommends a mixed strategy of calling and folding.
This is one of the real benefits of GTO solvers. It shows us how to optimally play against the very toughest opponents who are fighting hard for every last chip. Against the absolute toughest opponents who are capable of bluffing in this spot we should absolutely be calling some percentage of the time.
So the question we have to ask ourselves is: Is our opponent capable of floating and bluffing in this spot? In most regular tournaments where the field isn’t as tough and doesn’t play as optimally as the computer does in these spots, most players simply aren’t bluffing in these spots for all their chips often enough to justify calling here against all but the absolute toughest opponents.
Knowing the optimal way to play a situation and then adjusting for opponent tendencies is essential to adapting to the field in a post solver world.
Folding is the best play.
What would you do here?
Share your answer in the comments below!
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