When I get busted it is because I did not identify that my opponent held a set and I thought my top pair with top kicker is best.

I often run in situations where I held something like A♠K♠ and flop looks like 4♥A⋄7♣.

It happens often that I see preflop someone limping and than still calling my 5-7xBB.

Now it happens that someone with 4⋄4♣ plays slow or aggressive or whatever, but I never give them 77 or 44, nor 47 or AA - just because of their preflop betting. And I bet, he raises or goes allin and in most cases it ends in an Allin on the flop.

What is a good strategy to identify such set of fours?

Or is it impossible? Because there are so many bad players out there, that play such cards like they do and on long term they will loose but in this case they get me?

I know, I have to look at stack sizes and how the guy played his last hands and everything. But I did not figure out a good way against such donk-moves.

  • 1
    A bad play because they played a low pair? They got you to pay off.
    – paparazzo
    Commented Mar 9, 2017 at 17:02
  • I dislike the lack of humility that this question demonstrates. You are asking about a common scenario in which you tend to lose a lot, but in your mind, you are the one making the correct play, and you are opponents "bad players" making "donk-moves". Commented Nov 3, 2023 at 8:26

4 Answers 4


Sometimes you realy can't avoid it
It realy depends what type of game you are playing if it's super turbo or turbo where you are < 10 BB i guess shoving PF is the right play. If you have no information about your player and you have 20BB in a fast pace game i don't think you can avoid an all in either because of the 5-7BB PF raise.

Tournament play and Cash games differ a bit
I feel like a bet 5-7BB is bad in tournament but it feels ok in cash game. But in cash game it's alot easyer to avoid getting allin with top pair. I do fold more top pairs on cash game because i have the time to gather all information of the player before making tricky decisions. And in cash game its easyer since you normaly have a bigger stack like 200BB stack and can do things like check raise to test players and gather information.

[Tournament]Try to be transparent
Try to be transparent so that when you have KK or 89 they can't know what hand you have.

You basically tell him which hand you have by doing a 5-7BB raise PF. Hands he will expect from you AJ+ and TT+. If you think about it yourself, do you realy raise 5-7BB with JTs or stuff like 89 ? I don't think so, and even if you did than it's either early tournament or you should start changing up your betting pattern PF.

The fact that you raised 5-7BB i guess blinds where at 50/100 and you had something like 5k stack. At that point bad players tend to gamble alot because its early tournament and if there's a rebuy still going on they won't hesitate. At later blinds like 500/1k people have around 20k so they won't risk calling 5-7k to see if they hit trips, they would rather go for an all in or fold with low pairs.

[Tournament]Player tendency
Players limping and calling those kinds of bets often have pairs or suited connectors. If you are playing Tournament and blinds climb up slowly(12min) you should be at 50BB stack and with that in mind you shouldn't try to risk your whole stack on a single play against someone you have no information at all(unless you feel like gambling).

Analyze your opponent:
Biggest mistake new players make is that they always focus on a single hand they played when they should focus on all the hands they played against their opponents.

If you gather enough information about him you can read your opponent easly. Often it only needs one hand to know what kind of player he is.

Situations like going all in UTG with 20BB with something like A5 you would recognize that this player is realy bad and you could write some notes about it. You should learn his betting pattern and if he often checks out of position when he has a hand or if he bets when he has a hand. Often bad players tend to do the same thing over and over so keep writing notes (i feel like writing notes more useful than HM and PT) and have your Holdem manager or Pokertracker tracking all that usefull information. You could check the time they take before betting you might get some tells out of some people. Every single piece of information is important so try to write them all down.

If you play 1 tournament at a time it might be boring but if you track all the information you won't have time to be bored and you will get further in a tournament and avoid some of those tricky spots.


Don't blame the "bad players" for you losing all your money with a one-pair hand. If limp-calling a low pair preflop vs you is making them money when they hit their set, it's not them that is playing poorly, but you. They are playing profitably because you are paying off time after time.

I'm not trying to be harsh, but to shine the light of reality on your assumptions.

Your basic flaw is two-fold:

  1. You have a tendency to over-value TPTK hands. They aren't worth all the money as often as you seem to think.
  2. You aren't listening when the opponent tells you they have a lock. They are telling you this when they start shoveling money in the pot.

The question, as always, is, "Why is this person still playing?" If you are up against someone whom you know chases wild draws, like drawing to a flush with only three suited cards, then you may well get busted when they actually do get lucky and flop a set. On the other hand, if the player isn't a loose cannon, but limped in and calls bets on the flop, maybe they have something.

A couple of things to keep in mind: someone who limps and merely calls your bets probably isn't bluffing -- how are they going to win the hand if they just call and never give you a chance to fold?

Also, keep in mind position. 4⋄4♣ is very playable as a pre-flop limp from late position. Even A7 and 47 are playable in the right position, particularly if you are dealing with a player who likes to change gears and/or just keep you guessing.

In short, if I'm playing the cards you describe above and am getting called by someone who doesn't seem like an idiot, I'm going to assume there's a reason: they hit something or have very good drawing odds, like an open-ended straight draw. It's a good time not to try to maximize the hand's value -- dial it back a bit, hope for a modest pot, and be prepared to bail if your opponent suddenly shows signs of real strength. Top pair is good a lot of the time, but you have to be prepared to lay it down without hesitation when it doesn't make sense to play on.


You are making the fundamental mistake of playing your cards instead of your opponent.

TPTK is a fine hand for modest pots in most situations. Against a loose opp, it can stand a raise. Against a solid player it should hit the muck rather quickly.

You need to pay attention to how your opponents play. If they tend to be cautious about putting money in the pot, then you should tend to respect their play when they raise in order to save money.

You should ask yourself some questions when playing your hand. For example, in the flop you have, would your opp raise on the flop and go all in with AQ? If you have seen him make this play then it would be correct to call - assuming his range is 44, 77, AA, and AQ. There are 8 hands you have beat, but only 7 hands that beat you.

What I tend to do is look at how they play the river card. If they tend to check 2 pair when a possible straight comes with just 3 cards, then I know they tend to play very cautiously and use that info to save money and lay down big one-pair type of hands when they raise.

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