Editor’s note: This is Lesson #9 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 the small-blind 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 ahead of this opening range, so we should almost always re-raise (3-bet) our hand in this spot.
Just calling from the big blind with ace-jack suited is possible if we play vs. a tight small blind, or vs. a very aggressive small blind that 4-bets too much.
So we re-raise from the big blind and the small blind 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, and ace-king, while we do have these hands because we would re-raise them pre-flop.
The flop comes a Qc-4c-3c, which is a very wet monotone flop as there three cards of the same suit that allow for a made flush on the board, flush draws with one club, and also straight draws.
We are out of position and have a weak drawing hand – an ace high and a backdoor draw to the straight.
So, we need to make a decision. Our possible lines here are to give up or bet as a bluff.
Betting as a Bluff is a good idea if we think that our opponent is going to fold quite often. This is probably not the case with this specific flop, as his range is combined mostly from hands that have some equity on this flop, such as top pair, pocket pairs (especially with one club), and sometimes made-flush with hands like AXcc, suited connectors with two clubs, etc.
Giving Up is a good idea if we think there is a very small chance that our opponent will fold his hand to our bet, such as in this situation.
So, given all of this information, our line here on the flop would be to check behind our hand.
What’s Our Plan for the Hand?
If the small blind bets the turn, which is called a Probe Bet, we will fold on most turns, and probably call on a non-club ace or jack. Versus a river bet, we should probably call our top pair ace, and fold our middle pair jack.
If the small blind checks to us again on the turn, then this is the right time to bluff our hand on missed turns, or bet it for thin value and protection when we hit our ace or jack. Betting the turn after giving up on a c-bet on the flop is called a Delayed C-bet, and is considered to be one of the most powerful weapons we have in our arsenal as the original raiser pre-flop.
If the small blind calls our delayed c-bet, then we give up on most rivers and check behind our hand.
The main point we need to understand here is that on monotone flops, especially ones that also allow straight draws, we have very little Fold Equity, so we need to bluff less, especially if we have no equity.