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Folding an Overpair

07/06/2018 by Jonathan Little

I was recently told about an interesting scenario that causes headaches for many amateur poker players. In a micro-stakes $.05/$.10 cash game, the player in the hijack seat raised to $.30 out of his $10 effective stack and our Hero 3-bet from the button to $.90 with K-K.

So far, this situation is perfectly fine and standard.

The player in the big blind, who was new to the table, 4-bet to $2.30. The initial raiser folded and Hero called.

While I would usually 5-bet, either tiny or all-in, I do not think calling is too bad, as long as Hero plans to rarely fold on the flop. While there are some extremely tight and straightforward players you can put on exactly A-A when they 4-bet, that would be a significant mistake against an unknown micro-stakes player.

The flop came QJ3. The 4-bettor pushed all-in for $7.70 into the $4.95 pot.

This is a rough spot because if the opponent is playing intelligently, his preflop 3-betting range should be A-A – T-T, A-K, A-Q, and perhaps a few bluffs. Of course, that doesn’t mean he go all-in with all of these hands on the flop. For example, going all-in with T-T makes no sense at all. If the opponent is only going all-in with his strong value hands, A-A – J-J and A-Q, Hero should….call! Hero needs to win 37 % of the time to break even due to the pot odds and he will win 45% of the time.

Screen Shot 2018 05 02 at 21.16.48

The only time Hero can justify folding is when the opponent has exactly A-A, K-K, Q-Q, or J-J. I am sure some players are that tight and straightforward, but you should not assume an unknown opponent is playing in that manner.

If the opponent has even a few bluffs or overvalued marginal made hands, such as Q-T or A-J in his range, Hero’s equity skyrockets. This is a classic example of a situation where the worst case scenario is quite bad (Hero only has 14% equity against A-A – J-J) but all other scenarios are somewhere between decent and excellent. When that is the case and you know nothing about your opponent’s tendencies, you should tend to call.

Hero confidently put the opponent on exactly A-A, Q-Q, or J-J and folded. The opponent showed Q-3 offsuit. Clearly, folding against this opponent was a huge mistake.