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I'm looking for some advice on a particular hand I played last night.

1/3 NL.

Villain (~$350) - Playing loose aggressive and seemed like a reasonable/good player overall. Definitely raises more pre-flop than his "fair share" of good cards. Also, has oddly called a couple river bets with only high card; he didn't expect to win either but could have saved about $50 each time.

Hero (~$600) - Playing mostly tight aggressive. Won a couple big pots; one was textbook and the other I caught runner-runner against a "normally super-aggressive but that hand passive" opponent.

Hero is dealt 10♣ 9♣. and bets $10. There are 2 callers.

Flop (~$30 dollars) is 9♥ K♥ 9♠. Villain bets $20. (Unfortunately, I don't recall if I checked to him or if I was in late position. I suspect the latter.) My read was that this opponent could be on the draw based on my perceptions from other hands he played. QQ, AA, AK or the fourth 9 were also reasonable for him. If you're wondering why QQ, this opponent seemed to over value his pocket pairs sometimes, playing very aggressively against passive and not-passive opponents alike. He typically won (with the opponent folding to his bet) but occasionally would get action and then usually lose. If you're wondering why not KK, my read was that he would have re-raised pre-flop with KK, especially with two other people in the hand.

Taking the above into account, I figured I could beat most hands and raised to $60. My desire was to win the hand right there, although I probably should have better more in retrospect. The villain, after thinking for about a minute, then decided to raise me another $200, making it $160 for me to call.

Thus, the question: Would you make the call? Also, would you have played the hand differently as hero?

Hover over the block below to see what happened to our hero:

I thought about it for a minute and decided to call as I still figured the villain having the case 9 was unlikely, and I expected him to show two hearts (giving me a 70% chance to win, although I didn't know the percentage at the time). Turns out he had Ad 9d. Fortunately, all was no lost for the hero as another K hit on the turn and we ended up splitting the pot. However, this still makes me wonder if I had any business calling $160 in the first place. My experience is that, typically in small stakes NL, big raises mean big hands. Should it have been obvious to me that he had the fourth 9 with a strong kicker?

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You didn't explicitly say this, but I assume that you raised all in after the villains flop 3-bet? – Toby Booth Jun 11 '12 at 18:56
I updated the hidden text to make my action more explicit. – Craig Jun 11 '12 at 23:19
up vote 3 down vote accepted

Given the fact that you had a 9 and there were 2 other 9's on the flop, I think it would be safe to assume that your opponent doesn't have the fourth 9. The probability of this is just very low. As it turns out, he did have the fourth 9... and it could've ended a lot worse :) .

What I would do in this situation is, I would raise more on the flop, not just $60. Somewhere around $90 - $110 (maybe even more) would've been better. He had a very good hand, so he probably wouldn't have folded. But what it would do is probably prevent him from raising it so much, he would think at least for a few seconds that you have KK.

Also, calling that $200 raise is not a mistake in my book. It was about 60 % of his stack, which makes it a bit obvious that he has something BIG. But, as I said, going ahead with it is not a mistake, in my opinion.

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Raising to $60 into a $50 pot is pretty standard. $90 to $110 would be pretty far over the top. – Jeffrey Blake Jun 11 '12 at 14:00
That's why you gave me a -1 ? – Radu Murzea Jun 11 '12 at 18:10
A $90 raise on flop by Hero would be a "pot" bet. Considering how much money villain has behind, and the usefulness of overbetting to $110 (~1.33 "pot" bet), I believe that it's not far over the top at all. It's reasonable if you think villain will continue. – Toby Booth Jun 11 '12 at 19:01
I disagreed with that part of the answer, and hadn't had my coffee yet. I still disagree with that part of the answer, but I do agree with you that it's not worthy of a downvote. I need you to edit something to be able to remove the downvote though. – Jeffrey Blake Jun 11 '12 at 21:27
@Jeffrey The intentions of that bigger bet (more than $60) is to decrease the chance that the opponent will raise (because it's more than the pot), and increase the chance he will only call. Maybe you trigger some defensive protection in him or something... By doing this, you can see the turn cheaper and have a better picture about where you stand in that hand. If you don't agree, it's perfect. It's poker, not math. – Radu Murzea Jun 11 '12 at 21:44

Against the type of opponent you describe, this is an easy call in my book. There are way more hands in his range that you beat than have you beat. There are a few things I'd do differently, but nothing that changes the result of the hand:

  1. You noted that you weren't sure whether you played this in late position or not. I would not raise this type of hand from early position unless at a table with very tight, predictable players.
  2. On the flop, you bet $60 into a $50 pot ($30 + $20). I like this bet size. Then, when Villain raised you, you're left to call off 2/3 of the effective stacks. While it's a good call, I think it's even better to raise all-in. With so much of his money in the pot, shoving does not change your opponent's range, but it makes an already profitable call even more profitable. If he calls, we are still the favorite to win against his range, so we're getting more money in while we are the favorite: That's profit. If he somehow folds, then he has made a mistake because he has enough equity to call with almost any hand. We profit on that mistake too, and it probably works out to even more profit than if he had called.

There are some opponents against whom this could be a less straight forward decision. If he were a tight-passive opponent, for instance, where this type of raise is very rare, then we will have to tighten up his range quite a bit and it might not include enough hands that we beat to justify calling. But against this guy, a fold would be criminal.

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+1. I agree with the all-in arguments :) . – Radu Murzea Jun 11 '12 at 18:45
Re-raising all-in is an interesting idea and one that I didn't consider in-hand. First, I was mostly taken aback by the villain's re-raise since I didn't expect it. Second, I was thinking a lot about my experiences where big raises mean big hands in small stacks NLHE. Thus, the re-raise scared me, as it forced me to re-evaluate his hand range. So, while I could push there, it seemed likely he'd just call, whereas calling the villain's raise allowed me to limit my risk a bit (although admittedly, if I'm calling $160, I'm probably going all in on the turn anyway). – Craig Jun 11 '12 at 23:50

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