Top Pair with A♥T♥ on the Flop, what do you do?

DECISION POINT: In a Tournament, you raise preflop with A♥T♥ and get 5 callers, including both Blinds. Flop comes A♦9♠8♠. The Small Blind bets, the Big Blind raises, and action is on you. What do you do here?

ANALYSIS: Our pair of Aces has very little value in this situation. There are several factors that are unfavorable for one pair hands.

The fact that 5 opponents saw this flop with us means that one pair hands will have very little value. The more opponents that see the flop, the bigger the average hand at showdown. One pair hands typically have value only when fewer opponents see the flop, ideally 1 or 2.

Also, this board is highly coordinated. Flops that have multiple draws present and cards close together in rank are easier to connect with as compared to dry and scattered flops. One pair hands, like our pair of Aces, have more value on flops that are dry and less value on flops that are coordinated.

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Finally, the action in the hand can significantly narrow opponent hand ranges. The Small Blind bet out into 5 opponents, which generally indicates a stronger hand range. The Big Blind chose to raise this bet, which likely means an even narrower range of hands.

Sometimes our pair of Aces is still the best hand in this situation, but overall we are well behind our opponents’ hand ranges and should simply fold. In the long run, continuing in this spot will cost us a lot of chips.

Folding is the best play.


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