Two Pair on the Flop, what do you do here?

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In a live $1-3 game, a Middle Position player and Cutoff limp. You complete from the Small Blind with 5♠4♠ and the Big Blind raises to $15. MP1 folds, the Cutoff calls, and you call. You check the 4♥5♥A♦ flop and BB bets $40. Cutoff calls and action is on you. What do you do here?

PRO ANSWER: Preflop we complete in the Small Blind with 54s, a solid speculative hand. The Big Blind raises to $15 and after the Cutoff calls we are deep enough to justify calling another $12 with our speculative hand closing the action.

A note about the Big Blind’s preflop hand range. When the Big Blind raises instead of checking to see a free flop, their range is much different than if say, the Button had raised over the limpers preflop. Since the Big Blind is out of position postflop and could have checked to see a free flop, their range tends to be much narrower than other preflop raises over limpers.

We can not expect the Big Blind’s range to be extremely narrow as they would be happy to raise hands like KJo in this situation, take initiative, and thin the field. Big Blinds’s range does tend to be narrower than preflop raisers over limpers from other positions.

Continued below…

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We flop bottom two pair on an ace high board with a stack to pot ratio (SPR) of just over 6. We could lead out in this situation but given the Big Blind’s narrower preflop range and how good this flop is for that range, we’re very likely to get a continuation bet out of almost their entire range versus two opponents here.

After we check the flop, the BB’s $40 bet into the $48 pot is fairly large in relation to the pot size and is more likely to indicate a bigger, made hand. If the Big Blind has AA we are probably destined to go broke on this board with these stack sizes but if our opponent has hands like AK/AQ this is a great situation for us.

If we choose to slow-play our hand on this board there are many potential turn cards that either kill our action or potentially kill our hand. Any 2, 3, or heart is scary for much of BB’s range given that we just completed then called preflop.

This is also the type of board where we could be semi-bluffing frequently and our opponent will have a hard time folding a hand like a big ace, making this an excellent spot to check-raise.

Raising is the best play.

How would you play it?
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