Take a Leak (and Fix It)

This was not a very costly mistake, but represents a leak in my game that I need to fix.

I’m playing $1-2 no limit online, about one orbit into the session.

I’m dealt K-Q offsuit under-the-gun (UTG means seated to the immediate left of the big blind and therefore first to act before the flop).  This looks like a really strong hand, but it actually isn’t.  The reason is poor position, which creates multiple problems:

  • at a full ring table, there are 8 additional players still to act, so the chances of another player having a very strong hand is as high as it will ever be
  • another caller or raiser (other than one of the blinds) have position on every round after the flop
  • a raise from UTG represents great strength; most players have a very tight range for raising from this position.  Since my opponents likely know this, their calling range should also be very tight
  • post flop, K-Q can be easily dominated by a hand like A-K or A-Q.  If I hit either of my cards on the flop and another player bets or raises, how will I really know where I stand?

Anyway, ignoring these healthy thoughts and sitting on a stack of $192, I raise to $6.  The button and small blind both call, and the big blind folds.  The pot is now $20 (less rake).

The flop is J-7-2 rainbow (i.e., all different suits).  The small blind checks and I decide to make a continuation bet, hoping both players completely missed the flop and neither has a pocket pair.  This is a very dry flop, with no flush or straight draws and no pairs on the board, but the button has not acted yet.  I bet $16, which is 80% of the pot.  This is a little large for a continuation bet, but I rationalize that based on their being two players remaining and the button hasn’t acted yet.  Besides, my pre-flop action might suggest a very big pair such as Q-Q, K-K or A-A.  Hopefully I’ll be representing one of these premium pairs and both villains will fold.

The button calls $16, and the small blind rather quickly check-raises all in for $70.50.

Now this is totally gross.  I fold.  I’ve wasted $22 on a hand that very, very rarely will win a big pot.  If my continuation bet had worked, I would have won $13 (after the rake).  Instead I lost $22 by wandering around in no-man’s land.

The kind of hands that will call an UTG raise are going to be much tougher to fold out on the flop than a later position raise, where the opening range is much wider and therefore so is the calling range.

As it turns out, both villains had A-J and they split the pot.  If I really did have a premium pair, I probably would have called and won a very nice pot.

I really need to think about folding K-Q when UTG and wait for better position.  It’s a recurring leak (also with A-J offsuit UTG) that’s probably costing me much more value than I realize.  Acting last after the flop presents so many more stealing opportunities.

Year-to-date online results:  + $6,206

Month-to-date online results:  + 870

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