Here's a situation that's plagued me for quite awhile. Any and all feedback appreciated, even if it's of the Der, you suck, variety.
You're at a full LHE table in the BB, with A6o. It folds all the way around to the button, who open-raises. The button is a good, tricky player, very aggressive but not an idiot and more than capable of laying down hands when need be. SB folds and the action is on you.
A7 is more than enough to call in a possible steal situation, so folding isn't an option. Call or raise?
I decided to call. Yes, I have an A, yes he could be stealing here with a huge range of hands that I'm ahead of, and yes, re-raising is almost always better than calling. The problem with raising is that if I flop an ace and bet out, our good opponent is going to simply respect my show and strength and fold, if he doesn't have an ace. It's hard to get paid off when you re-raise pre-flop and flop your ace. If he has a bigger ace, you get popped back but are unfortunately tied to the hand as you can't really fold top pair when it's heads-up, and end up calling down to the river.
If the flop misses me I'm obligated to follow through with a continuation bet. This is both good and bad, and the real crux of the dilemma of whether to call or re-raise pre-flop. The flop will also miss him a lot of the time and a continuation bet will take it down. Even if it doesn't I have A high, which is sometimes good enough in heads-up tussles like these involving a possible blind steal.
But I'm also going to get popped back a good portion of the time when I make a continuation bet, by a good, aggressive opponent with position, and he doesn't even need much of a hand to do it with.
The flop comes A J 4, rainbow. Check or bet?
Well, I flopped my ace, but see above. If I bet and he doesn't have an ace, he likely just folds. He also likely folds small/mid pairs, with two overcards out there. If he has an ace, he raises, and likely has a better kicker.
The only hands I'm ahead of that he might pop me back with are hands like KJ, QJ, maybe J10. The problem, though, is that I can't really extract full value from that situation, as I'm out of position and have to slow down first, for fear that he has a bigger ace if he plays back at me.
Odds are I'm ahead, and I don't really mind giving free cards on that board. I decide to play it passively and see if he'll keep firing.
I check and button bets. Call or raise?
Sort of answered above, as far as how I'm playing this, but I tend to simply call in this spot. You're out of position and are either substantially ahead or substantially behind, and have a hand that's too good to fold to a re-raise. If the board isn't scary and a free card is unlikely to do harm, I tend to encourage him to keep firing by playing passively.
I call. Turn is 8, completing the rainbow. Check or bet?
I checked again. Yeah, I know, free cards galore, but not much is changing as far as the board or thought process. Way ahead or way behind, and a hand too good to fold to a raise if I bet. If the free cards give him a junky two pair with a crappy hand he was trying to steal with, so be it, I'll lose some pots that way. I'll also gain a lot of bets when he keeps making continuation bets in position, though, when he has the worst of it.
I check, button bets. Call or raise?
I called. But the more I ponder it, the less correct calling seems.
I think this is likely the crucial point where you can really argue for a raise. You potentially drive out middle/third pair and prevent him from overtaking you on the river and you don't hate a fold, as you've gotten him to put a few extra bets out there. If he's got a better hand, well, so be it, and you call his raise and check-call the river.
It seems schizophrenic, arguing early in the hand that you're either way ahead/way behind and don't want to face a raise or mind giving free cards, and then suddenly chunking that out the window and check-raising the turn. The difference, possibly, is that the extra BBs that have gone in by your turn decision make it imperative to take it down there, if at all possible, or at least charge him to see the river if he's behind.
But hell, I really don't know. That's why I'm posting this.
I call, river is a 3. Check or bet?
I check, as now we're in a pretty standard river situation where a bet accomplishes little, folding out worse hands and getting raised by better hands. You might argue that because I played my top pair so passively that a river bet actually has value here, as it's hard to imagine I have an ace, but I think it's pretty thin value, especially facing a good opponent.
I check, button checks behind with 97h, and my aces are good.
One thing I should note, as a slight bit of explanation, is that I wouldn't play the hand as passively if the board were more scary, as far as a potential straight/flush. I'd usually check-raise the flop if that were the case, despite the possibility of button having a better hand. What I'm really trying to get at here is how people hand situations like this, playing for small pots in heads-up/blind steal situations against a good opponent, when you have hand that's too good to fold to a raise but obviously a vulnerable one.
Many thanks in advance for any thoughts.
With all the poker talk out of the way:
Where's my damn peanut? I smell peanuts. PEANUT!