I’m on The Cutoff +1 holding Qc-Qs with blinds and antes at $600/$3,000/$6,000. I have $216,428 chips equaling 36 big blinds, a medium stack.
The action folds to me and I make a minimum raise to $12,000. Q-Q is a very strong hand in general but especially strong in this position because all players to my left have under 20 big blinds, small stacks. This means that they should go all-in or fold to my raise; calling will commit too large of a percentage of their stacks to the Pot with no guarantees of improving on The Flop. The only two hands that Q-Q is dominated by in an all-in scenario are K-K and A-A. A-K, like any two overs verses a pocket pair, is 50/50 against Q-Q. If my opponent turns up one of those two hands in this spot, then I’d consider it a cooler or an unlucky hand that I’d would lose no matter which route I chose (I cannot fold Q-Q Pre-Flop here).
The range of hands that I would typically make this raise with are any pocket pair (Q-Q), any ace, suited connectors, and any two cards over 7. I’d have to be careful here raising with low suited connectors because Player 330 only has 5 big blinds. If he moved all-in then I’d be forced to call due to pot odds and probably be behind. Remember that calling due to pot odds is when it mathematically make sense to call, even though it’s likely that you are behind. More on pot odds in other posts. Remember our goal is always to be all-in and dominating, not having to call because of math.
The action folds to The Big Blind who calls. The Flop comes 6d-Jd-7d and Player 494 checks to me. Right now it’s important to determine if I have a good, bad, or mediocre hand. With a good hand, I’m ready and willing to go all-in against my opponent. With a bad hand, I’m most likely behind. With a mediocre hand, I’ve hit a piece of the Flop and want to see more cards. Is my hand good, bad, or mediocre?
A bad hand is 3rd pair or worse. I have an Overpair to the board so I can rule out bad hand. A good hand is Two Pair or better using both of my personal pocket cards, depending on board texture and stack sizes. Mediocre hands are Overpairs, Top Pair, Second Pair, Open-ended straight draws, and flush draws depending on texture of the board and stack sizes.
Is my hand good or mediocre? If both Player 494 and I had medium+ stacks (>20 big blinds), then my Overpair would be considered mediocre. I’d check to avoid making a bet and getting raised, falling into a position of uncertainty. But with Player 494 having less than 20 big blinds, my hand goes from mediocre to good and I want to go all-in. Just like Pre-Flop, I can assume that he will go all-in or fold on this board to my bet and Q-Q will be dominating most of those hands.
I bet slightly less than half of the Pot to induce an all in from Player 494.
Player 494 3-bets me to $26,464. While he didn’t go all-in or fold like I expected, his 3-bet tells the same story. Remember that once I’ve determined that I have a good hand I want to go all-in, regardless if I’m facing an all-in raise or a regular raise.
I go all-in putting the pressure back on Player 494. I expect a call because such a large percentage of his stack is already in the middle. This hand plays the same if Player 494 had just gone all-in on the Flop.
Player 494 calls and flips over Kd-Js, Top Pair with a Flush Draw. Unfortunately this is not one of the potential hands that Q-Q is dominating and the odds are 50/50. You can see in the run out that Q-Q wins, however. Keep in mind that Player 464 would make the same play with just a high diamond or Top Pair, giving me the edge.
I’ll reiterate that most of the time there will always be a chance that your opponent is holding a hand that is beating you. In today’s hand, Player 464 happened to have an unexpected pair and flush draw making my seemingly dominant position a 50/50 coin flip. The potential for this should not change your play, however. When you have a good hand and see a spot to move all-in, take it every time.