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Hand 2 Hand Combat: Reid Young Shares Strategic Reasons to Lead Into the Raiser on the Flop

by Craig Tapscott |  Published: Nov 26, 2010


Event Full Tilt Poker heads-up cash game
Blinds $3-$6
Stacks Reid “SHOOTAA” Young – $1,193.65; Villain – $2,555.20

The villain raises to $12. Reid “SHOOTAA” Young calls with the 9♠ 8♦.
Craig Tapscott: That seems like a pretty loose call with 9-8 offsuit, out of position.
Reid “SHOOTAA” Young: I agree. But I think that my tight image up to this point easily offsets the marginal preflop call, especially when combined with the fact that with such deep stacks, my implied odds are dramatically increased.

Flop: J♠ 6♥ 5♠ (pot: $24)

SHOOTAA bets $18.

CT: Why lead out here?

RY: I lead out to stymie my opponent, and to avoid dealing with his continuation-bet, as check-calling or check-raising is not a very attractive option because of our deep stack sizes. I’m hoping to force out Q-10 types of hands or induce a bluff-raise from this aggressive villain. If he chooses to call, I have the option of attempting to barrel him off a 5-X or ace-high type of hand on the turn or river, depending on how the board develops or if he decides to raise my flop lead — in which case I’ll have the option of reraising as a bluff.

CT: Can you share your thoughts about the general strategy of leading into the preflop raiser?

RY: I think leading on the flop is the right play when all of your other options aren’t that attractive, be it because of stack sizes or your opponent’s post-flop tendencies, or because your hand is good and a board on which you would frequently lead as a bluff comes.

CT: Explain how stack sizes come into play when leading.

RY: If your opponent’s sitting on a short stack, it could be an attractive opportunity to lead out on the flop. Why? Mainly because you would be able to effectively put him all in by forcing him to make a decision for his entire stack. If you both are deep-stacked and you lead out, you negate your opponent’s ability to control the size of the pot by checking back his marginal hands if you had checked, instead. Leading out also helps you to avoid taking passive lines in the hand, like check-calling. Also, if you choose to check-raise your opponent, you may get involved in playing inflated pots when out of position.

CT: What other variables come into play when leading out?

RY: If your opponent is able to play well against you by betting with good frequency and he forces you to make mistakes on scary turns and rivers, you may do better by leading, to take the initiative in the hand away from him. Without the initiative, he has to make decisions against you, and not the other way around. What that usually means is that there is more of a chance that he will make an error in his play than you will make in yours, because by leading, you define your range and force your opponent to react to it. After you lead, he’s on the defensive against your aggression. Finally, leading also should be an option when you have good hands on some boards. If you’re betting only with bluffs in certain spots, good opponents are going to figure you out, and your game will be easily exploitable.

The villain raises to $60.

RY: Because we are so deep and I have a tighter image, I expect him to perceive my leading range to be polarized. In other words, because I know that he plays well, he should expect my range to be comprised of mainly weak draws and strong hands.
SHOOTAA reraises to $204. The villain calls.

Turn: 9♥ (pot: $432)

CT: So, now you have a pair, at least. What now?

RY: Well, I have some showdown value if my opponent was floating the flop. I don’t think any hands that are worse than mine are calling my turn bet, so betting here would be a bluff, even though I have a pair. More importantly, I believe that if I check, my opponent will completely take the nuts out of my range on this turn and will fire twice with all of his air. He’ll do that as an attempt to get me to fold K-J, A-J, or a hand like the one I have. I think this is a decent assumption, because if I was strong on this turn, there still would be a lot of missed draws to represent, and I could expect to be semibluffed or called down lightly by him. So, my choices are to bet — and fold out his bluff combinations or be called or raised by his good hands — or check, and induce him to bet his entire range, against which I do well, twice. I choose the latter.

SHOOTAA checks. The villain bets $280. SHOOTAA calls.

RY: So, facing his large bet and likely river shove, I’m sticking with my plan. I believe that I’m ahead of most of his hand range, which I think is comprised of basically 5-5, 6-6, J-J, or all of the flush draws with which he semibluff-raised my flop bet, then decided to call my three-bet. Perhaps he made a loose call on the flop with 8-7, but because of his possible dirty outs, I wouldn’t expect him to play 8-7 in that way, unless it was the 8♠ 7♠, and he’d probably fold that hand to my three-bet on the flop.

CT: What do you mean by dirty outs?

RY: I mean that if the turn had been the 9♠ and the villain had made his hand, he was going to be putting in a lot of money when I could easily have a flush and have him beat. Because the three-bet that I made on the flop often indicates a strong draw, the villain would probably realize the likelihood of making his hand and it still not being good, and would fold his straight draws.

River: 8♥ (pot: $992)

SHOOTAA checks. The villain moves all in.

CT: Can you actually call this river shove?

RY: Well, I made two pair, the spade draw missed, and the backdoor straight and flush draws got there. The fact that I’ve made two pair is irrelevant, because if he’s value-betting, it’s always going to be with a better hand than two pair. The backdoor straights and flushes are extremely unlikely.

CT: What do you make of the villain’s shove, then?

RY: My range looks mostly like a draw that picked up some showdown value on the turn — for example, the K♠ 9♠, which he might think is an unlikely candidate for a river call — or a pair and straight draw that is now a straight and probably not folding. Therefore, I think his river betting range when he shoves is only a discounted A♠ 7♠, because all other hands are expecting to fold out everything I have or be called by a straight. Another part of his river betting range includes other non-paired spade draws. I really think it’s less likely that the villain would bet the turn with the A♠ 7♠ and other 7♠ X♠ hands other than the 8♠ 7♠, because if I had decided to check-raise all in, he would have had a tough decision to make about putting in a lot of money with only a draw. So, I made what ended up being an easy river call, even though the board was extremely connected and dangerous-looking for the absolute strength of my hand.

SHOOTAA calls. The villain reveals the Q♠ 3♠. SHOOTAA wins the pot of $2,387.30. ♠

Reid Young is a successful high-stakes poker professional and popular coach and video producer at LeggoPoker. He recently completed a book called The Blue Book: An Advanced Strategy Guide for No-Limit Hold’em Cash Games. The book can be purchased by messaging “SHOOTAA” at, or by e-mailing