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Action as follows:

  1. Folds to cutoff
  2. Cutoff raises
  3. I re-raise with AA
  4. Cutoff calls
  5. Flop 9-7-8
  6. Cutoff checks

We are 250 BB deep and I was wondering if on this flop I should bet small or large with aces, I have range advantage but lack nut advantage (cutoff could have sets). By that logic I should be betting frequently and small (less than half pot) but I feel like I'm losing value by not betting big (more than half pot); Jacks Queens or tens would call.

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  • Is rhe flop rainbow?
    – J.-E. Pin
    Oct 16, 2023 at 10:29
  • As commented you don't want to bet big when there is a high chance you are dominated by a player sure to have almost the best hand: suited 10-J is probable and would call/raise till the end. It also depends on suitedness. Of course the opponent could also be drawing, and then you as usual it depends how tight or loose players are, how "curious". One can add other traits to the opponent: like tendency for some spurious big bluffs. Context matters too -dirth of action. Stack size: 250 BB is much to risk if you are probably dominated. The more players there are the less risk you want to take.
    – plm
    Dec 15, 2023 at 9:26

2 Answers 2

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I don't think betting accomplishes much in this spot.

If you bet big, you isolate yourself against the strongest part of villain's range. Best case scenario, you get called by JJ or QQ, or a big draw, but what is your plan on the turn? Do you think villain will call another big bet with JJ on the turn, if it's a blank? If not, then you gained nothing by betting on the flop that a later bet on the turn or the river wouldn't also have accomplished. Conversely, what will you do if the turn is a 6, T, J, or a Q? Bet big again? And then what on the river?

And if you bet small on this flop, you are just begging to get check-raised[1]. With AA you would have to call a raise (villain has a ton of draws in their range), and now you are suddenly playing for 250 BBs with just one pair. Not ideal.

If you check, villain now gets to the turn with all the same hands as in the scenario, where you bet big, and you will face the same decision if a scary turn card drop. But the pot will be smaller, which means that your mistakes will be less costly. In addition, villain will improve some amount of their unpaired hands which would have folded to a flop bet, which you can now get value from. And finally, you now have a relatively strong hand with which to fight back, should they decide to bluff.

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You showed strenght PF, you need at least a C-bet.

I have range advantage but lack nut advantage (cutoff could have sets).

You're expected to bet, and a check will give him a free card, that's not good. Every bet is a question you ask your opponent: "are you strong enough to call?". Here, an above average bet will give you important information. Make it expensive enough to make him think about the value (and possibly scare him), not enough to be pot commited later (which you shouldn't be right there with 250BB).

After you 3-bet (or a little more, like 3.5) him PF, a strong c-bet will show strenght and probably polarize your hand (Q♦Q♠+). If he check-raises you, now will be time to make a decision. He can have suited connectors (8♥9♠) and hit 2 pairs. Or a middle pair 8♥8♦and hit a set.

Or your bet will simply make his hand unworthy of a call: with air or K♣Q♥ or K♣J♦ for instance, he's behind any pair (that hit the flop or not) or any strong A♣

You can keep the pot small with a check or small bet. But then? Another free card on the turn? What if another scary card shows up? Your PF 3-bet and C-bet can also make him think you hold T♣T♠ or J♣J♠ and fear switches sides.

He's the CO, he may play a wide range of hands. He may think that you're trying and steal the pot and call your 3-bet PF. But then? He needs to hit the flop as badly as you need to polarize his hand. You were the aggressor PF, stand your ground and fire a second barrel.

In your case, I want an answer, and I don't give any free card.

If he folds, I'd rather win a small pot than lose a big one.

4
  • Giving a free card when you have AA is not bad if it means that villain improves their unpaired hand, which would have otherwise folded. If villain has a strong draw, they are not going to fold anyway, and you don’t want to inflate the pot with just one pair, when you’re 250 BBs deep. Dec 18, 2023 at 9:42
  • @KaptajnKold: agreed! That's why I want an answer, to polarize villain's hand. Not betting means giving free cards and not having any information on his hand.
    – OldPadawan
    Dec 18, 2023 at 10:03
  • I’m sorry, but I disagree. Betting for info is not really a thing in modern poker theory. Villain is supposed to x/r with both strong hands and draws. Folding if villain x/r with a draw is catastrophic for our hand. If we check, we keep all villain’s weak hands in their range, and we strengthen our own check back range, both of which greatly improves our EV when calling down. Betting the flop would make sense if we had JJ say, which wants to deny equity to villain’s unpaired over cards, or a weak draw which doesn’t mind folding to a raise. Or a very strong hand which can call. Dec 18, 2023 at 12:21
  • @KaptajnKold: I really can see your point, it's a valuable one. But there are more than one way to play. "Betting the flop would make sense if we had JJ": and I want him to possibly think of that, as I said in my explanation. Now, OP has 2 POV and can make the choice he prefers.
    – OldPadawan
    Dec 18, 2023 at 12:50

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