A River Decision with A♠K♦, what do you do here?

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In a Tournament with 500/1,000 blinds and a 1,000 big blind ante action folds to you in Middle Position with A♠K♦ and you raise to 2,500. The Button is the only caller and you see a Q♦6♠9♥ flop. You c-bet 2,500 and the Button calls. The turn is the 4♠, you bet 8,000 and Villain calls. The K♠ comes on the river and action is on you. What do you do here?

PRO ANSWER: We are playing in a tournament with 50 big blind effective stacks and there is a big blind ante in play. It folds to us Middle Position with AsKd and we make a standard open raise to 2.5BBs. It folds to the Button who flat calls and everyone else folds.

The flop is Qd6s9h and action is on us. This is a fairly coordinated flop that connects with both our ranges pretty well. We could potentially have QQ/99/66 and even Q9s in our range while our opponent is likely reraising QQ and some combinations of 99/66.

Our opponent still has a lot of 87s/T8s type hands that aren’t likely to be as big a part of our range and will continue on this flop. This is actually a very close flop where a continuation bet or checking are both fine plays especially if we don't have any opponent specific reads that could aid in our decision. We decide to continue bet ⅓ pot and our opponent calls.

The turn is the 4s and again we have a very close decision. The 4s is unlikely to change much, but we do have the As in our hand which will allow us to potentially bluff some spade rivers as part of a balanced 3-barreling strategy.

Continued below...

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Our opponent does still have a lot of 87s/T8s/J8s type hands that will likely fold out significant equity in this spot when we fire again for decent sizing. Again, we don’t have opponent specific reads that could easily tilt our decision but both firing around ⅔ pot and checking are reasonable options here. In this situation we elect to bet 8BBs and our opponent calls again.

The river is the Ks. This is one of the best cards in the deck for us. We block the nut flush draw so it’s less likely our opponent has a huge hand here. Betting to get some value with our hand seems like a must, it’s just a matter of how much. In this particular spot with the possible exception of KTs/KJs (of which there are only 4 total combinations) our opponent doesn’t have many Kx hands, so our most likely targets for value here are Qx hands, A9s, and JJ/TT hands that didn’t raise preflop.

These types of hands are unlikely to call a large bet in this spot so a much smaller bet of around 7BBs is a much more ideal sizing.

Betting small is the correct play.

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

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