Two Pair Plus

Greetings from the WSOP Circuit stop in Cherokee, NC. I’m just here for a couple days, and only to grind away in the cash games.

Reminder to self:  there is a very specific situation in no limit Texas Hold’em that comes up often enough for special analysis. This is when you are the pre-flop raiser (or 3-bettor), make a continuation bet on the flop, and another player either raises or check-raises your C-bet.

Please note the specificity of this situation. This does not apply to pre-flop betting, nor action on the turn or river betting rounds. Nor does it apply when the villain is the last aggressor pre-flop, nor when he or she leads into you on the flop (i.e., a “donk” bet). You were the pre-flop aggressor and continued your aggression on the flop.

What does he or she have? While the texture of the flop matters here, there is a surprisingly easy default response based on actual data. This was sent to me by a former professional poker coach, having been collected by one of his students based on actual live poker hands where this dynamic played out and the cards were revealed at showdown.

It may not surprise you, in a blog titled They Always Have It, that the majority of the time the villain has 2-pair or better. On an unpaired flop, that beats any 1-pair hand. Here’s the data on the villains’ hands in this exact situation:

2-pair plus v2

Yesterday this happened twice. The first time, I had AA, raised and got four callers. On a Q84 rainbow flop, I C-bet and one villain shoved all-in for about 52 BBs on top of my bet. Being far less self-disciplined as a player at the table than when writing as a blogger, of course I called because how often am I going to get pocket aces, amiright? Yeah, so I lost that pot to his top two pair.

Later, I had KK, and after a raise and call, I re-raised to 21 BBs. The original raiser folded, but the caller came along. He was the small blind and I was the big blind. On a Q74♣ flop, he check-raised all-in for a total of nearly 140 BBs (which I had well covered). Because a flush draw is possible, it’s tempting to put extra weight there and that’s usually a mistake as the table shows. Yeah, so I lost that pot to his set of 7’s (which further improved to quads on the turn), which really hurt since our stacks were reasonably deep.

I know better, especially in the latter case where my range is super strong and nearly transparent and no matter how pretty it’s only one fucking pair. And especially in the first case where the villain was an unknown who I could safely assume was a middle-of-the-bell-curve thinking player who is neither an expert nor a maniac nor a total drooler, and I only have one fucking pair.

Grrrrrrr!!!

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BONUS CONTENT: PokerNews has published another of my articles!

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