T♠T♦ Facing a Check-Raise, what do you do here?

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In a Tournament where blinds are 600/1,200 it folds to you in Middle Position and you raise with T♠T♦. It folds to the Small Blind who calls and the Big Blind folds. Your opponent checks the 5♠K♠9♣, you bet and they call. The turn is 6♣ and Villain check-raises your bet. Action is back on you, what do you do here?

PRO ANSWER: In a Multi-Table Tournament at 600/1,200 blinds with a 120 chip ante we are dealt pocket tens in MP2. It folds to us preflop and we make a standard raise to 2,600. The Small Blind flat calls and the Big Blinds folds.

We see a flop of 5sKs9c and the Small Blind checks to us. We are faced with a somewhat tough decision here. Betting on the smaller side (around ⅓ pot) or checking both have merit. We have a medium strength hand with both a backdoor flush and a backdoor straight draw, so getting check-raised here would be really bad for us. We also have the Ts which blocks some of our opponent’s flush draws. Both checking and betting are viable lines in this situation but we opt to bet on the smaller side and make it 2,700 and our opponent calls.

The turn is the 6c, which doesn’t change much for our hand but does make the backdoor club flush draw possible. Our potential backdoor draws are no longer possible, but we have a medium strength hand on a reasonably coordinated board.

Our opponent checks to us and again we have a decision. Game Theory Optimal strategy dictates taking a mixed approach with this exact hand, betting with it around 30% of the time and checking behind around 70% of the time.

We should often check back here to try to get to a showdown and/or induce bluffs from our opponent on the river. Given the narrower nature of villain's small blind flat calling range (compared to say the much wider calling range from a Big Blind player), we need to be careful not to begin building a large pot too often with hands weaker than top pair.

However, betting small with this hand a certain portion of the time makes sense and that's the line we choose to take.

Continued below...

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Betting small again on the turn makes it more likely that our opponent checks to us on the river and we can get a cheap showdown, while checking induces a few more bluffs. If we think our opponent does not check-raise often against this small bet, it can be quite profitable.

However, against very tough opponents we are better off checking behind on the turn or betting bigger - sizing to 2/3 to 3/4 pot. Betting small against a tough opponent allows them to profitably have a wider turn check-raising range and can put us in a tough spot.

In this hand we chose to make it 3,500 and our opponent does check-raise to 8,000.

At this point we are getting a tremendous price to call, but when we’re behind we likely only have 2 outs to improve. If we choose to fold getting these kinds of odds it would certainly be a tendency our opponent could potentially exploit.

However most opponents are incapable of making this sort of play with a draw (we block some of our opponents draws) and we are way behind our opponent’s value range. This is a spot where folding feels quite painful but it is the prudent play given all of the information.

This highlights one of the reasons why either checking (the preferred play) or betting bigger on the turn are both better lines.

Folding is the best play.

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

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