Top Pair vs a Donk Bet, what do you do here?

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DECISION POINT:
In a Cash Game, an Early Position player calls and it folds to you in the Cutoff with A♠T♥. You raise, the Button and Blinds fold, and the Early Position player calls. The Flop comes 8♠6♦T♣, giving you top pair. The Early Position player bets. Action is on you, what do you do here?

PRO ANSWER: Many opponents at lower stakes lead into the preflop raiser in spots where they are not comfortable check-calling a continuation bet. This is often because they have a marginal made hand and prefer to win the pot right away or because they have air and are attempting to counter a high frequency c-betting strategy by simply betting out.

In either case, a continuation raise can often be profitable against these opponents with a wide range of hands.

In this hand we have top pair, top kicker, so the question is whether or not simply calling and keeping our opponent's hand range wide will be more profitable. The benefit of just calling this bet is that we allow our opponent to sometimes bluff again on the turn.

The downside to that strategy is that we allow our opponent to realize their equity on many turn cards. Their hand range often includes hands like T9, 89, 87, 67, J9, QJ and KJ. All of these hands have lots of equity against ours. On this flop our hand is a particularly vulnerable top pair hand due to the presence of the straight draws and overcards.

Because of this, we should raise to deny our opponent their equity with many of these hands. After you raise, you will be pot committed to this hand and should not fold to an all-in.

Raising is the best play.

What would you do here?
Share your answer in the comments below!


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