Editor’s note: This is Lesson #7 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.
Action is folded to the dealer position, who open-raises the pot. Most players will open-raise a wide range from this position — at least 35% of possible starting hands — and our ace-jack suited is 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 and the dealer calls, which usually means 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.
How We Hit the Flop
The flop comes Kh-Qs-6h, which is a wet flop, as there are many possible flush draws or straight draws.
We are out of position and have a strong drawing hand – a combo draw! We are drawing to the nut flush with nine possible outs, and have a gutshot straight draw with three non-heart tens, so that’s 12 outs to the nuts. If our ace overcard will improve us into a winning hand then we have three more outs.
So when I see this flop and there’s so much money already in the pot, what goes through my mind is: I’m pot-committed. I have nowhere to go. I should aim to go all-in. in this hand, and the best place to go all-in is on the flop, where my equity is the highest.
- vs. Loose Passive Opponents: Normally when playing low stakes poker, the players we will be facing will be loose players pre-flop, playing too many hands, and they will be passive players, meaning that most of the players will check behind their draws, their flush draws, their straight draws, hoping to get a free card and hit a miracle straight or flush.
Versus these players we should bet our hand as a semi-bluff, expecting the opponent to fold many hands such as a pocket pair (22-55, 77-JJ), a low pair (A6s) etc. If the opponent calls, no problem; we still have great chance to improve and we want to maximize our profit when hitting our outs.
We will bet again on the turn, expecting him to fold a queen this time. If he calls our turn bet, we should usually go all-in on the river, expecting him to fold a weak king.
So, let’s go! Let’s bluff this hand.
- vs. Aggressive Opponents: If we have information that our opponent is an aggressive opponent (either he bluffs too much or he bets too much with medium hands), then we can go for an exploitative line. We can check to him on the flop, expecting him to bet, and then we can check-raise and go all-in on the turn if he calls.
- vs. a Flop Raise: So we bet, and the player in the dealer position raises us. Against most players, the optimal line here would be to go all-in, as there is still some chance that the opponent will fold to our all-in. Even if he calls, we have a lot of equity.
If we have information that the player is super passive, meaning that he raises this flop with two pairs or better, hands like king-queen or a set of sixes, then we have a lot of information on this opponent. And in this situation, I would just call out of position his raise, because I get enough direct pot odds & implied pot odds to improve into a winning hand over his two pair or set, and take the rest of the money he has left.
The main point we need to understand here on the flop is that although our hand is a drawing hand, it has so many outs that we are pot committed given the 3-bet pot. We want to go all-in when our holdings are the strongest and have the best equity against our opponents’ potential and likely holdings, meaning on the flop.