Editor’s note: This is Lesson #6 in our weekly “Strategy with Stas” series. Each and every Sunday Stas Tishkevich, founder of the Poker Fighter Training App, brings you a new lesson in article + video format. We hope you enjoy this feature from the Poker Fighter School, and would be happy for you to share these posts — as well as your feedback — on social media.

Pre-flop

Action is folded to the player in the dealer position, who open raises. Most players will open-raise a wide range from this position, at least 35% of possible starting hands, and our pocket jacks are way ahead of this opening range, so we should almost always re-raise (3-bet) our hand in this spot.

Just calling from the small-blind vs a dealer’s open-raise is normally a losing move, as we invite the big-blind to join the pot, and lose the initiative in the hand. So, we re-raise him from the small blind , and he just calls.

Flop

The flop comes 9c-4c-2c, a monotone flop, meaning that all the cards are of the same suit, three clubs.

This is a wet flop as there are many possible flush draws and straight draws. We have an over-pair to the board, which is usually a strong made hand, but due to the flop being monotone, the strength of our made hand is only medium, meaning that there are many possible hands better than ours such as any flush, any set, or any two pair.

Pre-flop when we re-raised, we claimed that our hand is strong. When our opponent just called, he told us that he is usually weak, meaning that he has a Capped Range.

A Capped Range in this case means that the opponent doesn’t have the best possible hands pre-flop, such as pocket aces, pocket kings, pocket queens, pocket jacks, or ace-king, while we do have these hands because we would re-raise them pre-flop.

So, we need to make a decision. Our possible line here is to bet or check and call. If we bet, the reason is for Value and Protection.

Betting For Value means that we can still get calls from weaker hands than ours, such as any draw; either a flush draw or a straight draw. We can get a call from a nine (top pair), we can get a call from pocket tens, maybe pocket eights, sevens, sixes, and fives, if they have one club.

Betting for Protection means that we need to protect our hand versus bad turn cards, meaning that if we bet the flop and he folds a weak club, it’s good for us. He folded equity. If we bet the flop and he folds higher cards than ours, such as an ace or a king or a queen, it’s good for us. We protect our hand.

So this is my plan for this hand: Bet the flop. If he calls, I’ll probably check the turn, and then call on good turn cards and fold on bad turn cards.

So we bet the flop.

Let’s see why we bet, what the fighter has to say: “We are out of position and the flop is wet. We have a medium made hand. It’s only a medium high over-pair. We need to bet to get paid by weaker hands and to protect our hand versus bad turn cards.” Great job, coach, I love your advice!

An additional line we can take in this spot is versus very aggressive opponents who bluff too much. In this case, I would usually check the flop, expecting him to bet, and then I will go for a bluff-catching line and call.

Check-call the turn again on good turn cards, and check-fold on bad turn cards like any club, or an ace, maybe even a king.

  • vs. a Flop Raise: Unfortunately, the opponent raises vs our flop bet. It’s not good for us. We need to understand that, usually, players who raise this flop will have a much stronger hand than ours. They will have a set or a made flush. Most player types (which are usually loose and passive) will not bluff this spot; it’s only two pairs and above, so we need to fold our hand.
  • vs. Aggressive Bluffing Players: Perhaps we have information that the opponent is a very aggressive opponent who can bluff in this spot with hands such as a naked ace of clubs, maybe king of clubs. Maybe he can raise here with an open-ended straight draw such as five-three suited, or a gutshot such as ace-three suited or ace-five suited, especially if he has a club. If I have all of this information, that he can bluff us in this spot, then the decision is much harder. I think it’s very close between calling or going all-in in this spot vs. these types of aggressive opponents.

Summary

The main point we need to understand here on the flop, is that although we have an over-pair, because it is monotone our hand strength is severely reduced and we should play it much more slowly than if it were a rainbow or two-tone flop.

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