I’m sitting on the Button and have been dealt the best starting hand in the game of No-Limit Texas Holdem’, A-A. All tournament poker players will agree that A-A is a premium hand and the goal is to be all-in in a pre-flop situation, giving 80% odds at worst to win the hand (assuming both players don’t have A-A). If we get to a post-flop situation and are not all-in with A-A, then the hand will shift according to the texture of the board, stack sizes, and table position. When dealt A-A, I’ll raise into a hand or 3-bet a previous raise. If anyone plays back at me then I’ll continue to raise, hoping to get all of my chips in the middle.
The blinds are $300/$600 and I have $21,564 chips or about 36 big blinds. The stacks around the table are mixed and shorter stacks are more likely to move all-in while larger stacks will raise into the hand. I’m hoping that a player before me moves all-in or raises.
The action folds to the Cutoff, who raises to $1,200. The Poker Model advises to raise 2.5x the previous raise with premium hands (A-K, A-A, or K-K) in an effort to get all-in in a pre-flop situation. This amount invites the initial raiser to call or raise back. Generally speaking, raising more will make it harder for my opponent to call and raising less will not build the pot like a 2.5x will. For this reason I will raise to $3,000, hoping that a player behind me moves all-in or the initial raiser raises back challenging the strength of my hand. Note that my raise is called a “3-bet” aka “reraise” and any additional raises are called 4-bets followed by 5-bets, etc.
Recall that M-game is the game within the game that speaks more to players feel of the table rather than statistics (see M-Game to Blame). When you think someone is bluffing you are playing the M-game. The Cutoff has a large chip stack with only three players to his left to challenge him. From his table position, chips stack, and with no previous action, it’s likely that he may be raising with a weak hand in an attempt to steal the blinds. The variables that I have just listed are common knowledge to all of the players at the table. So when I make my 3-bet, the players at the table are skeptical. It appears that I am trying to “steal from the stealer”. This stigma works well for me in that I do have a premium hand and am hoping for a player to make a move. This is why I must make my 3-bet even with a premium hand. If I play it differently, like just calling the raise, then I’m significantly lowering my chances of being all-in pre-flop which is my goal.
I make the 3-bet to $3,000 and the players to my left fold. The action is back on the original raiser. If he decides to fold then I’ll win a small pot and move to the next hand. This was not the outcome I was looking for, but I can only do so much. My opponent will not always fold to a 3-bet here which is why I must make the play.
If he calls, then the hand will move to the Flop. In this situation I’ll still have a medium stack and an overpair most likely, a mediocre hand according to The Poker Model. The texture of the board will determine my next move, but I am prepared to play it like other overpair. A-A can become like any other hand on the Flop, so I’d be mindful to not overplay it.
The outcome that I’m hoping for is a 4-bet from him. A 4-bet means that he may have a good hand that he is willing to go all-in with. It can also be a complete bluff because he’s playing the M-game and doesn’t believe that my hand is strong for reasons previously discussed. If he 4-bets, then I will move all-in, achieving my goal with this premium hand.
My opponent makes a 4-bet of $4,000 on top of his initial $1,200 bet and I move all-in.
After much thought, my opponent folds and I win a nice pot. If he had a good hand, like A-Q, A-K, J-J, Q-Q, K-K, or A-A then he would have called my all-in. If he had a decent hand like J-10, Q-J, K-Q, K-J, 6-6, 7-7, 8-8, 9-9, or 10-10 and wanted to see a flop, then he would not have made the 4-bet, giving me the opportunity to 5-bet all-in. It’s clear that he made a bluff, hoping that I was attempting to steal his steal. Unfortunately for him, I had a premium hand. Like a golfer connecting on the range, he sent his chips far, far away. Maybe they should call it a “Fore! Bet”.