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Something I often struggle with is when I'm out of position and hit the flop, but not in an ideal way. For example, playing a 6-max NL2 game in the small blind, I called a 3BB raise of the cutoff with QTs (the rest folded). Flop came AQ4 rainbow. Since I had middle pair, I only checked and he raised. Since the cutoff probably opens quite wide, I figured I had quite some equity against his range (later I checked in equilab and my equity was estimated to be 51,5%). Also a continuation bet is so standard that it didn't convince me he had an ace, so I called.

I'm not sure if this was the correct play. By not raising myself I'm showing some weakness. On the other hand, checking protects my checking range (though maybe I shouldn't be concerned with that at those stakes?). Or should I have folded to his bet because he could have an ace?

Turn was a Jack, so I was in quite a similar situation (though equilab says my equity dropped). I raised, trying to show strength. Looking back at this decision I think I should have checked again? If he had a jack my bet could have added value, but maybe that's a to small part of his range? In any case he called.

River was a four, we both check and he turns over an ace.

I've been in situations similar to this one quite often, so what should one do here? Check-call on the flop and check-fold on the turn? or check-call both? I think what makes this so hard is that continuation bets are so standard that they don't really give you any information on the villains range. Or am I missing something here?

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By your use of terminology, I will assume you are a newer player to the game.

You’re thinking along the right lines and I think you’re reading your opponent correctly. But you also have to think about your own actions and what you’re saying.

The action you described - without you even knowing :) - is called a “stop and go” and it’s considered to be super strong. So I don’t like the check on the river here, you should bet to continue telling your strong story.

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Agreed with UC—there are some starting concepts you're still working on, and you're making things way too hard on yourself by consulting hand calculators and working out equity positions. That's for later, when you have a breakeven or slightly winning game and you're looking for your leaks.

If the opener has a wide range from the cutoff, when he c-bets the flop and you think you have him beat, check-raise about half pot. If you win the pot 1/3 times right there, it's profitable because you might also win on later streets. Your results will likely be correlated with how good you are with estimating how often he's stealing light (i.e., raising with a wider range from late position).

Note: IMO, middle pair with an Ace on the board is a slightly different situation. Lots of players will open from late position with A-trash; K-trash generally only opens from loose players when suited. So if you're middle pair to an Ace, play a bit more cautiously.

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