Poker Quiz! In the Small Blind With Q♥Q♦, What Do You Do?

In the Small Blind With QQ-optimzd

DECISION POINT: You are currently eight-handed in the middle stages of a major weekend online tournament with blinds at 500/1,000 and a 1,000 big blind ante. Most of the stacks at the table have around 50BBs and 75% of the field is still in play. The UTG player raises to 2,000 and it folds to you in the Small Blind with Q♥Q♦. You reraise to 9,000, the Big Blind folds, and the original raiser calls. The flop comes 6♦4♣3♠ and action is on you.

What do you do here?

PRO ANSWER: We are in the early to middle stages of a major weekend online tournament. Most of the stacks at the table, including us, have around 50 big blinds. Around 75% of the field is still playing. The blinds are 500/1,000 with a 1,000 big blind ante. We are dealt QhQd in the Small Blind with eight players at the table. The UTG player opens to 2,000 and the action folds around to us.

While this raise came from an opponent seated Under the Gun, this opening range should still be as wide as 18-20% of overall hands when using a small opening raise size and with a big blind ante in play. Our specific hand pocket queens is well ahead of that range. Due to being out of position we are heavily incentivized to push our equity edge preflop by reraising rather than taking a passive line and playing out of position postflop with relatively deep stacks. We choose to reraise to 9,000 chips, the Big Blind folds, and the original UTG raiser calls.

The flop is 6d4c3s and with a stack to pot ratio (SPR) of around 2, our pocket queens are very strong and we are near the top of our range, so folding should not be a consideration at any point in the hand. Given that is the case our main concern here is finding the best way to get money into the pot against their range. When the UTG player just calls our preflop raise, their range is usually condensed to pairs as well as some suited aces and suited broadway hands. Although AK might just call sometimes preflop, many players would just move all-in preflop with that hand so we can discount it from our range assessment. This means that when we’re ahead our opponent is likely drawing to somewhere between 2-3 outs, the exception being the times they specifically have combinations of A5s and 55.

The big temptation that many players have here is that they want to bet big and just get the hand over with.

Continued below...


If we really think about UTG’s range our hand isn’t that vulnerable when we’re ahead on this flop. You’re not likely to make big hands at a high frequency in any given tournament, so it’s vital that we’re able to maximize our value when spots like this do occur. If we bet big here our opponent may continue with some of their overpairs, however most of their defending range will be composed of hands that are drawing super thin on this flop such as JTs/ATs.

Consulting the output from a GTO solver for this spot, we see that the preferred line actually checks with our hand at a high frequency here to induce a stab from the portion of UTG’s range that just contains overcards. In addition to checking the solver recommends sometimes betting with a mix of sizing between 25-50% pot. Using a sizing any larger than half pot will likely force our opponent to play closer to “perfect”, by folding all their hands that have little equity against us and only continuing with their strongest holdings.

In real-world games our decision in this spot will be influenced by any tendencies we’ve observed from our opponents.

If we have observed that the UTG player might aggressively take a stab at the pot if we check, this is a great place to play our hand a bit deceptive and check the flop. Against more passive opponents it’s crucial to start betting now and to choose a small sizing that will allow UTG to continue with hands we are dominating.

Both checking and betting small are the best plays.

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

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