POKER STARS $3/$6 NO LIMIT HOLDEM – 6 PLAYERS
Ace-jack is a standard open from the hijack. The button’s cold calling range is roughly pocket twos through jacks, ace- queen, suited broadway hands, and some suited connectors.
Out of position against a good player on this moderately coordinated board, giving up would be a reasonable option. The button’s entire range consists of pairs and overcards, often with a straight draw to boot. What’s worse, a good player will often float with any two cards, knowing that there are many troublesome turn cards for the out-of- position bettor. If the turn comes 5, 6, 7, T, J, or Q, there will be a possible straight for the button to represent, along with feasible two pair holdings as well.
Despite those considerations, Dusty decides to fire out a continuation bet, planning to fire three barrels a fair amount of the time. Several of the “scare” cards will improve Dusty’s hand – 7, T, or Q give him a straight draw, while a J or an A give him a good top pair. Since the effective stacks are not that deep, hands like jack-nine and jack-eight are unlikely to be in the button’s range. He would likely only play those weaker suited hands with the better implied odds that deeper stacks would provide. That means that hitting a jack would give Dusty a strong hand that beats all of the button’s likely holdings aside from queen-ten. If the board comes out with a couple of blanks, firing off three shells will get the button to fold a large percentage of his range.
The turn is obviously a good card, giving Dusty top pair. Checking and calling would be a reasonable option, hoping to induce bluffs from all of the air hands that floated the flop. It may be the best play in a vacuum.
Poker is not played in a vacuum, however, and check/ calling the turn presents some problems to an overall strategy. Namely, this is a great card to fire a second barrel on. If Dusty wants the right to bluff this card with all of the hands that miss here, he should be betting when he hits the card as well, so that’s what he does. If you want to bluff when you don’t have it, you should usually value bet when you do. That’s particularly true in common situations like turning an ace and firing a second barrel.
Another benefit to betting the turn is inducing a bluff raise. Hands like 7♠ 6♠ and J♠ T♠ may raise the turn since there are not many hands the button expects Dusty to jam with here. He’ll expect Dusty to call here a lot and often fold the rivers. The button’s turn raising range has very few value hands: ace-nine and ace-eight suited, along with some unlikely to be slowplayed sets. He could also be raising any two cards as a bluff, as this is a prime bluff card.
Dusty hates jamming the turn if only better hands will call, but here this guy is pretty well priced in with combo draws. It’s also hard to tell which river cards are scary, so it will be difficult to play the river accurately. When you think you’re doing well against your opponent’s range but can’t come up with a good plan for the river, it’s good to just jam the money in.
If something like the Q♠ comes on the river, folding would be quite reasonable, but there are enough bluffs left in the button’s range that it would still be rather distasteful. Dusty avoids making a questionable fold on the river by jamming the turn.
In years past, Dusty would have been more inclined to play it safe and check/call or bet/fold. But thinking through and understanding people’s ranges lets him make a confident turn shove.