Two Pair on Flop

Here is an interesting hand from a live cash game earlier this week.

The game is $1/$1 no limit hold’em.  This is a regular weekly home game where all of the players are familiar to each other.

I am the small blind, and the player UTG straddles for $2, as he always does.  Three players limp in, and I have 43o.  I really should just fold here, but “it’s only a dollar” plus this is a very loose game, and the straddler does not automatically raise from his straddle position to attack limpers.  I call, and so does the big blind (BB).  Straddler (UTG) checks.

Flop:  ($12)  Ad 4c 3c.

I have bottom 2 pair on a low but drawy board, and can expect to get some value from players with Ax or club draws.  It is unlikely that I’ll see any really strong kickers, as AK, AQ, and probably AJ would have raised pre-flop.

So I open with a pot-sized bet of $12.  There is no reason to slow play here, and bottom 2 pair can turn ugly.

BB calls, then UTG raises to $30, and everyone else folds around to me.

Whoa!  Stop.  What’s going here?  Let’s try to figure it out…

BB is a competent player who is not prone to making really crazy plays, and likely to raise right away with the strongest hands.  I’m going to give him the following range:  Any Ace (other than A-K or A-Q which would raise pre-flop), 6-5o for open-ended straight draw, 7-5o for double gutshot straight draw, any club draw (other than 6c-5c or 7c-5c both of which likely raise now).  That is a really wide range of 207 combinations, but he’s the BB in a limped pot.

UTG is a much more aggressive player and much more likely than BB to be on a semi-bluff of some sort here.  Again, as the straddler, he did not do anything pre-flop other than check his option, so his range is also going to be very wide.  His range includes strong hands like 5-2, 3-3, 4-4, A-4, A-3, all of which beat me already.  Also strong draws like 6-5 and 7-5.  Against this part of his range, my lowly 2-pair is crushed.  But UTG also likes to run multi-barrel semi-bluffs, so I have to include all club flush draws (other than A-K, A-Q, A-J, A-T, K-Q which would have raised pre-flop) and pairs with straight draws such as A-2, A-5, 4-2, 3-2, 5-4, 5-3.  Like BB, UTG’s range is wide (but slightly different) and now includes 249 combinations.

Against these 2 ranges, I have 42.5% equity.  UTG has 33.1% and BB has 24.4%.

Heads up against BB’s range, I am a 65% favorite.  But I’m much more likely to end up heads up vs. UTG and not BB.

Heads up against UTG, I am a 55% favorite.

Complicating my decision, I don’t know what BB will do next, and can expect UTG to fire another large bullet on just about any turn card to put me to a difficult decision.

At the time, I thought I was in worse shape, giving UTG much more credit for the strong part of his range than the weaker part.

So I fold.  I’m increasingly conscious of the need to shift gears from “Oh, goody” to “Oh, shit” BEFORE donking off a bunch of chips.

Now for the rest of the story… after I folded, BB shoves all-in, and UTG calls.

BB has Ac-5c for top pair plus nut flush draw.  UTG has 8c-2c for a weaker flush draw and gut shot straight draw.  He needs a 5 or running 8’s.

My equity against the actual hands now shown is 44.3%, with BB at 47.1% and UTG at 8.7%.

The turn and river cards are both bricks, so I missed an opportunity to win a huge pot.  UTG re-loads.

Looking back at the actual equity, mine is about the same as my calculation against their respective ranges.  UTG is at the weak end of his range, and BB has a lot of outs against my 2-pair, with clubs, deuces, fives and aces all helping him.  Given that 3 players were involved, calling would have been +EV for me, albeit with a very high variance.

But with equity < 50%, folding isn’t terrible either.

The bigger lesson here is the hand cost me $13 and I could have simply folded in the SB pre-flop.  4-3 off suit sucks.  Out-of-position sucks.  Why bother?  Wait for a better set-up.  In this case, I caved to UTG’s positional advantage, then BB pounced.  Not sure what either of them would have done had I shoved over top of UTG there.

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