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Wsopbanner Quiz: Flopping Top Pair

by Jonathan Little |  Published: Apr 17, 2024


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You are eight-handed playing in a $1-$3 no-limit hold’em cash game with a $300 stack. It folds to you in the cutoff with KSpade Suit 9Heart Suit.

Question 1: Should you fold, call, raise to $9, or raise to $15?

Answer: Facing capable opponents, K-9 offsuit is a reasonable hand to fold. However, in low-stakes cash games populated by weak, recreational poker players, you want to play with a looser range than GTO recommends because your opponents will not three-bet often enough preflop and they will make numerous post-flop mistakes. Raise, especially if you think the players yet to act will play poorly in a passive manner.

You raise to $9 and both the button and big blind call. The flop comes KHeart Suit JClub Suit 3Diamond Suit and the big blind checks.

Question 2: Should you check, bet $9, bet $18, or bet $27?

Answer: It is important to be careful whenever you play multi-way pots! Holding top pair with a marginal kicker, you are best off checking and seeing how the button proceeds. Checking some strong hands like top pair with marginal kicker is a strong play that will make you more difficult to play against because your opponents will not know if you have top pair or a much weaker hand. Check to look to check-call if the button bets.

After you check, the button bets $12 (43% pot), and the big blind folds. 

Question 3: Should you fold, call, raise to $36, or raise to $50?

Answer: Top pair with a marginal kicker is a hand that loves to just call. You may be tempted to check-raise and apply pressure, but not only does this make your hand harder to play, but when you are crushed, you are torching your money. Call and see what develops on the turn.

You call and the turn is the 2Spade Suit. You check and your opponent bets $38 (73% pot).

Question 4: Should you fold, call, raise to $92, or go all-in?
Answer: Just like the flop, check-call. Resist any urge to check-raise because there are few value hands you can get to fold.

You call and the river is the KClub Suit.

Question 5: Should you check, bet $30, bet $90, or go all-in?

Answer: While it may be tempting to lead, it is not a good strategy. Considering what your opponent may have, their entire range incentivizes you to check and give them the opportunity to bet. If they have a worse king or a paired jack, they will bet for value, and if they missed their straight draw, they may bluff. You may end up calling off and being shown a better king, but it is better to check-call rather than bet and force your opponent’s missed draws to fold.

You check and your opponent bets $80 (62% pot).

Question 6: Should you fold, call, raise to $160, or go all-in?

Answer: Although you may be beat, you cannot fold. Your opponent could make this same bet with a worse made hand or a busted draw, forcing you to call. Remember that by having trips you block your opponent from also having trips, so do not be scared to call it off.

Before you execute a raise, always consider the hands your opponent will call with. If you do not think your opponent will call with a paired jack, then there is no point in raising. Between calling and raising, calling rewards you if you have the better hand, while also protecting you from torching your stack. Call and see if you are ahead.

You call and your opponent mucks. While you will never know what they had, what you do know is you scooped a nice pot while minimizing the downside when you happened to be crushed!

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