Top Pair and Nut Flush Draw on the Turn, what do you do?

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DECISION POINT:
In a live $2-5 game, you raise to $20 from Hijack with A♥T♦. The player in the Cutoff position calls and everyone folds. You c-bet $25 with top pair on the A♠Q♥9♥ flop and get called. Turn comes 5♥ and action is on you. What do you do here?

PRO ANSWER: We made a standard opening raise in the Hijack and we get smooth called by the Cutoff. We flop top pair with an okay kicker on a very coordinated board. If we were going to have a check/calling range on this flop, this is probably one of the better hands to do it with.

In many tougher games where players are frequently attacking our continuation bets check/calling would be the best play, but in more passive games we should be betting quite frequently on this flop both for value and to deny equity. Given the coordination on this board, we probably should have bet a little more in relation to the pot (closer to $35).

Once we make it to the turn we have a very interesting dilemma. Many player’s instinct when turning a nut flush draw would be to check so not to be raised off our draw, and since our overall hand strength is somewhat mediocre in this spot that favors getting to a cheap showdown.

Continued below…

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That being said, when we look at how our hand interacts with the flop, the Ace of hearts blocks many of our opponents reasonable flush draws and top pair hands and the Tx blocks many of their straight draws.

While it’s still possible they have both, this blocking effect skews our opponent’s range to be more heavily weighted towards Qx and 9x hands that called the flop. If we check here, our opponent is likely to check these hands and they are only likely to put additional money into the pot on the river if their hand improves (and if their hand improves it is likely to be ahead of us!).

While it may feel terrible if our opponent raises after we bet the turn, this is a spot where denying equity against a majority of our opponent’s range is important. We don’t have to make a large bet on the turn, half the pot should do the trick.

Betting is the best play.

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