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OK, so you've been dealt QQ and you're feeling pretty good about things and throw out a few BBs. Everyone folds but the villain.

The flop comes and it contains a rocket.

Whatever happens next, I always seem to get burned:

  • It is slow played and villain bets on a rag on the turn/river and shows rockets
  • I raise and villain calls
  • Villain puts in a low/modest raise and I call
  • Hero and villain both check to the end

The end result is invariably the same - a pair/set/trip rockets and I'm out of pocket.

Obviously, I should ditch my ladies if a large raise comes in or villain comes over the top but there doesn't seem to be any tells I can use for mid-sized calls/raises.

It would seem daft to constantly fold when A/K arrives on the board without any clear evidence villain has a pair/set/trips.

Any ideas?

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Draw from any previous experience of the villain from any pots you've seen him play. Work out your EV for this situation. –  Mr E. Upvoter Sep 4 '13 at 19:58
    
The problem is that this is a Pokerstars Zoom table - I'm seeing fresh opponents every hand. It is less of a problem for me on a standard ring table as I get a feel for which players are loose/tight/passive/aggressive etc... –  Robbie Dee Sep 5 '13 at 9:48
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5 Answers 5

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One thing I've seen in tournament play is over betting prior to the flop with JJ-KK if you don't want to see them busted. I try not to do this myself unless I'm short stacked. It is common to see AA by the river since many players will call a typical bet or raise with A+anything. If I have any pocket pair and see an overcard on the flop I'll typically bet into it for information, knowing that if I get raised or even called, I'm probably beat. But if I get called I get an almost free card for a long shot but possible set.

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Thanks for your insight - very useful. A smaller bet post flop might be a good idea. It would reduce my possible hand earnings but also limit my exposure. If villain were to come over the top, I'd get more information earlier on in the hand. If villain calls a large bet on the flop, I do often feel too committed to the hand to fold it. –  Robbie Dee Sep 5 '13 at 16:18
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If you do this consistently, you will have to watch for the people who will call with anything in order to take it away from you on later streets. As with anything in poker, don't do the same thing every time! :-) –  lnafziger Sep 5 '13 at 22:13
    
I tried this out at the weekend and the outcomes were much better. Thanks! :) –  Robbie Dee Sep 9 '13 at 11:48
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Your QQ hand has the greatest value before the flop because it is 1) a made pair and 2) a high one.

Once the rocket comes on the flop, your hand loses most of its value, and you should check and fold (calling occasionally to keep people honest) if the rocket comes on the flop, and someone bets. Most people will stay in preflop with A-x.

If you are first to act, you might bet, representing AK, and hope that others just call and give you a free card on the turn, and maybe the river. If someone raises, they have the matching ace (and you don't). But you now know enoughto fold.

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Exacto Mundo, nearly only another Q will improve your hand and since you already have 2 there are just 2 left in :P. So overbet will be fine. ready to die to stay alive. –  RayofCommand Sep 9 '13 at 16:06
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If you're playing a Zoom table where you don't necessarily get to pick up on the tendencies of other players, always try to take into account what the rest of the board looks like. For example, when the flop comes A-X-X, do the XX cards give a possible straight/flush draw? If the board is A-9-8 with two clubs and you're getting action, its likely the villain is on a draw, so you'd want to make it expensive for someone to draw out on you. Also, by betting strong on this board, you also make your opponent think that you have an A and are going to aggressively protect it. You put him at a decision of whether or not its going to be worth it for him to draw out on you. You can almost be certain that when the flop is something like A-9-4 rainbow and your opponent isn't going away, he's got you beat.

When you're on the other side of the equation (calling the opening raise by an opponent), don't forget that he's afraid of the same thing. You can always play like you're the one who has the A and frustrate your opponent who has gotten "outdrawn". I almost prefer to be the person calling the opening raise (especially with position) as your hand is almost completely disguised, since you haven't really given away any information. Sometimes the cards that fall on the board can be your best friends :)

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Yeah, straight/flush draws add another dynamic for sure... –  Robbie Dee Sep 6 '13 at 17:17
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Poker is a game about ranges. As such, there is no cookie-cutter answer to questions like this. You want to figure out the range of villain, and figure out how best to play against it.

For example, if you opened in UTG and villain called from UTG+1 and he does this with a range of {AQ+,JJ-99} then it's probably best simply to check/fold on the flop: he has a lot of combinations that beat you, and you'll often find a way to get to showdown anyway against his hands that you beat.

On the other hand, if you opened in CO and villain called from BB and he does this with 50% of all hands, then you are way ahead of his range, and can play it in many ways, depending on how to best extract value while not over-playing your hand.

If you opened from UTG and villain called on BB and he does this with 50% of hands, then you have an extra option: if villain is not a calling station post-flop then you can consider turning your hand into a bluff when that's appropriate on later streets, because your range is so strong against his.

Overall, you have to always think of villain's range (and about your perceived range) and plan accordingly.

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If I'm the one opening with a raise, I'll represent the Ace/King with a c-bet. If I get called, I'll shut down and look to check-fold to a bet.

If somebody calls my c-bet, they almost always have the Ace, or have the Ace beat.

From a 2nd level perspective, if I've opened the pot with a raise, the Ace is one of the cards I'm supposed to have in my hand. So if they don't fold to my c-bet, they are either very clever, or they aren't afraid of the Ace. Either way, my hand isn't strong enough to continue profitably long term. Any action I get post-flop should be enough to get me to shut down/fold, and save my chips for a better spot.

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