Editor’s note: This is Lesson #8 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 player in 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 king-queen suited is 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 player in the big-blind position to join the pot, and lose the initiative in the hand.
So we re-raise and the player in the dealer position 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, ace-king, while we do have these hands because we would re-raise them pre-flop.
Our Flop Decision
The flop comes a Ad-As-9c, which is a dry flop, as there are no possible flush draws or straight draws.
We are out of position and have a weak drawing hand – a king high and a backdoor to the straight.
So, we need to make a decision. Our possible lines here are to either give up or bet as a bluff.
Giving up is a good idea if we think there is a very small chance that the opponent will fold his hand to our bet. We also need to keep in mind that when we check our opponent can actually bluff us with worse hands such as suited connectors (76ss for example) or broadway cards (J10, for example).
Betting as a bluff is a good idea if we think that there are some hands that are currently stronger than our king-high that might fold to our bet. These hands do exist as we expect our opponent to fold hands like 22-88. We also protect our hand when he folds hands like suited connectors or broadway cards.
We also need to remember what happened pre-flop. We re-raised, so our range is uncapped, meaning we can have nutted hands on this flop such as quad aces, ace-king, ace-queen, ace-jack, and ace-ten. Our opponent’s range is capped too, meaning he will usually not have hands like pocket aces or ace-king.
So, given all of this information, our line here on the flop would be to bet our hand as a bluff.
What’s Our Plan for the Hand?
If the player in the dealer position raises, we obviously fold as we have only king-high.
If that player calls, we give up on most of the turns.
If a ten or a jack comes on the turn we can bet again, this time as a semi-bluff with our gutshot straight draw. If he calls our semi-bluff on the turn, then we give up on the river unless we improve into a winning hand (the straight) that we can bet again, this time for value.
If a king of a queen comes on the turn, then we improve into a made hand and can maybe check-call once for pot control with our medium pair.
Obviously, it would be nicer if there was at least one heart on the flop because then we would have a backdoor flush draw as well, and many more turn cards would allow us to bet as a semi-bluff. This is the true strength of suited hands pre-flop.
The main point we need to understand here is that although we missed the flop entirely, we still have other options besides just giving up on the flop. Our bet as a bluff should bring better results than giving up as our range is uncapped while the opponent’s range is capped.