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Context: 1/2 NL Hold'Em game at the Venetian. 9 players; table has been mostly passive pre-flop with multiple limpers to the flop.

Perceptions: For the past couple hours, when I've raised to $8 or $10 pre-flop, typically everyone folds. If I get a caller, a continuation bet usually drives them out. Thus, I presume people view me as tight. In response, I've been calling some loose hands (don't recall if they were even shown) and even limped with pocket aces (which I did show) since I was afraid everyone would fold to my raise.

For the villain, I played one hand heads up previously. I had K♥ T♥ and the board flopped a 10 with two spades. I made a continuation bet that he called. Third spade hit the turn and we both checked. Fourth spade hits the river, and it's a K so I happen to get two-pair. I bet (I think $60 into an ~$55 pot). Villain comments (slightly irritated) how lucky I am and folds. As to how this hand affected the villain's perceptions of me, it's hard to say.

The Hand: Our hero has $400 and is UTG or UTG+1. He looks down and sees A♥ A⋄. After very briefly debating whether to raise, or limp and try to be tricky, hero raises to $10. Folds around to villain near the cutoff, who calls. Our villain has about $440.

Flop is J-7-5. I believe it was a rainbow flop.

Hero bets $20, expecting to just take the pot there. Villain raises to $80.

Question: What do you do with your pocket rockets? Push all-in? Fold?

What our hero was thinking:

My gut reaction was that the villain may have a set. But I didn't think he'd re-raise there. Hard to justify; just my gut. As to JJ, I believe he would have re-raised with that hand so I discounted it. 6-8 seems plausible; I've seen players try that (when they believe their opponent has a high pocket pair). A pair of 9s or 10s seemed plausible as well; use a raise to get me to fold. Based on that, and the double up opportunity staring me in the face, I figured I was ahead in most cases so I pushed.

What happened:

The hero pushes and the villain near-instantly calls. The hero reveals his hand and the villain comments that our hero is behind. The turn is a 10 and the river is a 5. The 5 feels particularly good, for a moment, as the hero now has two pair. Unfortunately, the villain is holding J5h and has made a boat. Since then, I've gone through the hand repeatedly and suspect two things went wrong. First - I was very unlucky against a well disguised hand. I went from being a 4:1 favorite pre-flop to a 3:1 underdog. Further, because I was out of position pre-flop, I had no opportunity to re-raise had the villain raised first. Second - I forgot the old adage; big bets usually mean a big hand. Seemingly out of nowhere, there's a raise to $80. While that seemed like an opportunity in the heat of the moment, it should have set off alarm bells as well.

3

You have to call once. You have AA, in fact i would definitely called with QQ+ without history. Most players try this raise with a high J to state their hand, to slow-down the action on Turn/River and define their hand better by Villain's reply. Not necessarily the nemesis of AA, a set.

In my opinion sets are betting/raising the Flop on particularly wet boards (to make them pay) but they're mostly shown themselves on Turn, after they shown weakness on Flop and before a draw-hand loses it's hope on River. This is a weakling flop, a good player would probably not raise here with a monster or may just min-raised him, because it doesn't contain any scare card. I would be more willing to bet my set if there was an A or a K here.

Most of the time Villain will slow down (well, depends on him anyway, how much he raises). If Villain continues his aggression with big raise, i'm very close to Fold. Some players would jam here but honestly, this is a tight table, the pot is small, you're against a guy that plays differently now, just call once and get out on more aggression.

  • I appreciate the feedback. However, I'm not convinced that calling is the right choice. AA is not likely to improve further so I don't see how calling helps me win the pot; any aggression on the turn forces me to fold. While I can hope my opponent is passive on the turn, how likely is that considering he's committed 20% of his stack to the hand? (not to say he's pot committed but he's clearly interested in taking it down) – Craig May 20 '15 at 4:22
  • @Craig, you can never know if he has a monster or a J here. This is something you might extract from hud stats. If you're fond of these and have a tracker, you may want to check how much he raises the flop C-bet (Raise F CBet). Generally, i don't like to fold my aces right here, and also don't want to put more money with a pair by a re-raise, bloating the pot. I just want to keep the pot small for a pair. Additionally, the pot odds are 35% and you winning chance is about 85% here, your EV is about +80 $. If you plan to re-raise, you commit about 50% of your stack, fold is weak. – user1165 May 20 '15 at 4:54
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I'd call once, and then fold if the villain continues to bet. He probably has "trips," maybe jacks.

To "protect" yourself, you need to develop a reputation of raising not only with AA, but with lower pairs. My guess is that with your reputation, if you raised with pairs down to T-T, most people would fold.

Eventually if you get caught, then the villain might raise with say, AJ, hoping you had raised with T-T. But as it is, he probably knows you have A-A and is betting a set of Jacks (or maybe 7s).

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It depends on how much you think this player is capable of running bluffs. If the player is totally incapable of bluffing, it's fine to fold on the flop. However, against a normal player they will have semibluffs in their range at a minimum.

Against super nits - fold

Against average players who can semibluff - call once and re-evaluate on the turn and river to see if draws come in or perhaps see a cheap showdown. Big bets from average players on the turn and river indicate that they have one pair beaten. They are not capable of getting thin value out of hands like TJ.

Against aggressive players - call and intend to check call every street to allow them to bluff the maximum to you.

The raise is telling you that you're behind. Would many KJ-TJ hands really raise and then call your shove on the flop? I don't think so, and for this reason I think shove is the worst play available to you.

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I don't like that overbet shove of over 3x the pot.

I agree JJ probably would have raised but they could be AJ through J7, 77 55. Maybe 75 suited but I would not put them J5s.

JJ is in your range. They are likely putting you on like 55+ and big aces

You bet out the pot on the flop and they raised more than double the pot. That is an overbet. It is just strange. It is like they want to steal the pot. A made hand or 1 pair or 68 would just call. 2 pair or trips would call or put out a small raise. If they are on one pair you are ahead so you don't want a fold. If they have 55, 77, 75 and you want to rep a set of jacks is about the only better hand you are going to fold out. You put your whole stack are risk for a very narrow range here.

What double up opportunity? What worse hand is going to call? A single pair is not calling. 68 is not calling. If they had KK or QQ they would have raised pre flop. If they have a set or 2 pair you get called you could hit an Ace - 8%. You could have a paired board counterfeit 2 pair or runner runner flush to maybe 10%.

You can't give up on AA that easy. Smooth call and re-evaluate on the turn. Any over card you can represent a set. Your best opportunity to fold out a better hand is to hope for K, T, Q card and bet the pot. You have 18 outs and it cost you 1/2 as much money. Other wise just check.

If they bet you have to evaluate if they are firing another bluff.

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