Did I make the right call?

Strategy & Advice by playinem Posted

1-2 NLH, I've been on the table for a little less than an hour. I have $118 in the HJ with 9h-9s. The first 4 players fold. MP open raises to $10. I flat, Btn flats and BB flats. The flop comes Kc-8s-9d. The BB checks. MP bets $25. I raise to $50. Btn folds. BB repops to $136 all in. MP calls the all in or $111. There is $365 minus rake and I have $58 back with a set of 9s. The only hand that has me beat right now is K-K. Realistically the only guy I think could have it is the MP PFR. He is a TAG who has only mixed it up twice since I've been on the table. He won both times only going to showdown once where he had top and third pairs. The BB has been in 8 or 9 pots since I have been on the table winning some and losing some. He seems like a definite LAG and I'm pretty certain that if he had the Kings here he would have repopped it pre-flop. My range for the MP PFR is pairs from A-A-8-8, A-k & A-Q. My range for the BB is pairs from Q-Q-8-8, connectors suited/unsuited from A-K-7-6 and 1 gappers from A-Q-9-7 suited or unsuited. I have seen him bet draws aggressively and my feeling here is that is what he is doing. Maybe open ended with J-T or 7-6 or even something less likely like a T-7. I just really remember thinking that this guy is on a draw. The MP PFR I thought at the time probably had the best hand pre-flop. I really thought he had a large pair and only made it $10 to go looking either to get raised and repop it or to at least get some kind of action. Watching him I was convinced that what he didn't want is what happened for 3 guys to flat behind him with each call pricing the next guy in. Odds are that my set has him beat and I really didn't see a case for a fold here. It is only going to be $58 more or me to call with what is in all likelihood the best hand. Better than 7:1 on my money so I called. I'm pretty sure I was correct but I am really trying to think through the hands I play and I would be interested in any comments or suggestions. I did call and I will post what happened in a follow up.


  1. Honestly, by the time the action gets back to you as played, the answer is obvious, you have to go with middle set. But, I'd like to go back and look at what got you to that point because I think that is where you (and me and a lot of other $1/2 players) have a bunch to learn.

    On the flop, you have to go with your hand. When the action gets to you on the flop, there have been 4 calls of $10 preflop, plus a $25 flop bet. That's $65 before any rake is taken out. You have $108 left after your call preflop and you flopped middle set. Your only question at that point should be how to get all the money in the middle.

    But, I think that your raise sizing is bad. Either you want to give them the wrong price to draw at you (which is the better play in my opinion) or you want to flat to entice a call from a draw and then shove on the turn whenever the draw misses. But, raising from $25 to $50 does neither, it just makes a bigger pot and gives draws the right price to chase. Here's why. The raise leaves you with $58 left in your stack and commits you to the pot. If the MP player has an open ended draw, then you just gave him the proper price to chase it because he'd be calling $25 to win $105. Also, if either the button or the BB have an open ended draw, then knowing that the MP player is likely going to call another $25 and that your remaining $58 is pot-committed makes a call with an open ended straight draw reasonable. The effective pot size is $188 -- the $65 from when it gets to you plus your $50 raise, plus a $25 call from the MP player, plus your remaining $58. Calling $50 to win $188 with an open ended straight draw is just about the right price. Really the only thing they have to worry about is a shove from the MP player. Even then, if they call your $50 and the MP player shoves, then the pot will be so bloated that it will likely be profitable to call the shove from the MP player. So, on the flop, I would be raising more. I'd go to at least to $75 and I have no problem just making an overbet and shoving for $108 there.

    One other big thing is that it seems like your thinking about opponent's ranges is static instead of changing as the hand plays out. For example, you say that you think that the MP player, who is TAG has a range of AA to 88 plus A-K and A-Q. That's a reasonable preflop range but you should have a much narrower range after his flop bet. On a flop of K-8-9 rainbow, he C-bet into 3 players (2 of whom have yet to act). There is no way he does that with A-Q or a pair 10s, Jacks or Queens. So, at the point you are making your decision, you should be narrowing his preflop range down -- in my opinion that C-bet says that he has at least top pair top kicker, which narrows his range to 4 hands, namely AA, KK, AK, or 88. So, you are ahead of 2 of his hands and behind the other 2. That again leads me to raising bigger. You are not going to get away from middle set with your stack, so if he has you beat then so be it.

    Your range on the BB is way too tight prelfop if he is actually LAG and also didn't seem to change as the hand played out. He is closing the preflop action with $33 in the pot when it costs him $8 to call. So, he is getting 4 to 1 on his call at that moment plus some implied odds on later streets. His range is going to include every pair up to about 10s, plus almost any suited connector, most suited 1 gappers, some suited 2 gappers and unsuited 1 gappers, plus any suited ace. I think with a raise from a tight player and 2 calls he is going to raise QQ+ and maybe even JJ. Now, let's look at what is left in that range when there is a flop bet from a tight player and a raise on a K-8-9 rainbow board. He shoves so he has something good. He almost certainly 3 bets preflop with AA or KK. So, that leaves 88 or an open ended straight draw, most likely with J-10 or 7-6, although I wouldn't throw out 10-7 suited either. Given that range, you have no choice but to call off your last $58. The call from the MP player just gives you better odds -- although it does increase your concern that he might have KK. That's why I started this post by saying that your decision to call the shove is obvious.

    Having said all of that, I think a bigger problem is preflop. You have 99 and a stack of $118. There is a raise from a tight player to $10. You put that player on a range of A-A to 8-8, plus A-K & A-Q. Why would you call $10 from that player with 99? His preflop range is ahead of yours -- I ran it through Equilab and that range is almost a 60-40 favorite versus 99. You are not deep enough to profitably set mine with 99. You are going to hit a set about 1 time in 9 with a pocket pair. So, a lot of beginning players think that you need 9 to 1 implied odds to call and set mine, but that's just wrong. The reason is that sometimes your opponent playing a range of AA to 88 plus AK and AQ will flop a bigger set and stack you. Other times they will flop nothing with A-K or A-Q and not pay off your flopped set. And still other times, the board will be so ugly (e.g. 10-9-8 all spades when they have 2 red aces) that even an overpair to the board won't pay you off. Given all of those times, you need bigger odds to profitably set mine. I believe that poker author Ed Miller thinks you should be looking at implied odds of at least 15 to 1 and I've seen some people in forums say that you want closer to 20 to 1 odds. Even at the low end, that would mean your stack (and your opponent's stack) should be at least $150 to profitably call a preflop raise to $10 with 9-9.

    I hope all of that helps! And thank you for posting because thinking through it all really helped me!


  2. @Dap Poker Yeah Dap nailed it here. Only thing I don't agree with is his assessment of the call pre. This is a trivially easy call. Vs a looser player with a looser range who we are less likely to get paid off by then I agree we need 15 or 20:1 implied, but vs someone who's range is so nutty as you describe I think 10-12:1 more than suffices. Other than that Dap pretty much covered it all. Well said

  3. @Dap Poker Thanks Dave your analysis really helped me. I'm trying to learn how to think through a hand. As you point out I was pretty much committed to this pot so I called. With action over the BB turned over Jd-Qd, MP flipped over Kh-Ks. The turn was an 8c and the river was the 3d. So I lost the pot got stacked and had to rebuy. Thanks for the commentary and analysis guys I really appreciate it.