Q♣Q♥ From the Cutoff, what do you do here?
DECISION POINT: You are in a 100 BB deep cash game against tough opponents. The action folds to you in the Cutoff with Q♣Q♥ and you raise to 3 big blinds. The Button and Small Blind both fold and the Big Blind calls. Your opponent checks the K♠8♣J♠ flop and action is on you. What do you do here?
PRO ANSWER: This hand comes from the WPT GTO Trainer and involves a cash game scenario where we are 100 BBs deep and it folds to us in the Cutoff with pocket queens. We raise to 3 BBs and it is folds to the Big Blind who flat calls and we’re off to the flop.
The flop is Ks8cJs and the Big Blind checks to us. Since this is a GTO opponent (all opponents in the WPT GTO trainer play game theory optimal ”perfect” poker) we know that they will be appropriately defending against what is a very wide Cutoff opening hand range.
One of the first questions we want to ask when deciding if we should bet the flop with a made hand is “how many streets of value is our hand worth?” In this particular case even with us opening a wide hand range and our opponent defending with a very wide range, if money goes into the pot on all three streets it is very unlikely that second pair to the board is the best hand.
Another question we want to ask is “does our hand benefit from equity denial here?”. While there are some obvious draws on this board, we are unlikely to fold out any flush draws and we block all the straight draws with our queens even if we choose to bet.
We would potentially fold out some ace high hands that could improve on the turn, however in this spot a GTO opponent may continue with even ace high. In this situation our particular holding doesn’t benefit much from equity denial and it is not strong enough to bet, so we really don’t want to start building a huge pot.
This hand is an excellent candidate to balance our checking range and induce some value from hands like Jx or 98s or even induce bluffs from a GTO opponent. Keep in mind that against some “real world” opponents who are either very loose/passive or extremely fit or fold postflop, taking a more exploitative line here by betting the flop may be more profitable than checking.
However, against a GTO tough opponent though who may be capable of check-raising us with a variety of bluffs and backdoor draws, checking here to keep the pot small and get to a controlled showdown versus a wide range is the most profitable play.
Checking is the best play.
How would you play it?
Share your answer in the comments below!
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