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Marginal Hand Made with a Draw

09/08/2018 by Jonathan Little
Hand Analysis

I was recently told about an interesting situation from a $2/$5 game that you should strive to avoid. A somewhat loose, weak player with $200 limped from middle position and our Hero found Q7 in the cutoff with a $500 stack. Hero decided to raise to $25.

Hero told me that he thought he could outplay the limper, winning most pots where the opponent failed to connect with the board. While this may be true, as stacks start to get shallow ($200 is only 40 big blinds at $2/$5), you should focus on raising primarily with strong big cards and hands that have potential to make strong postflop hands, like 98. Q7 is simply too junky to justify raising. Instead, Hero should fold and wait for a better spot. A side benefit of playing only reasonable hands (besides making strong postflop hands) is that your raises will tend to get a decent amount of respect whereas if you frequently raise the limpers, even the most obtuse opponents will eventually figure out your basic strategy.

Only the limper called. The flop came Q62, giving Hero top pair with a flush draw. The opponent checked and Hero bet $25 into the $57 pot.

I like this bet size, although given the board is quite uncoordinated, Hero could bet even smaller, perhaps $20. Hero has a nice overall range advantage and given Hero is not concerned about getting outdrawn, his main concern should be building a pot while also keeping the opponent in. As Hero’s bet size increases, his opponent will be more inclined to fold marginal pairs and Ace-high.

The opponent called. The turn was the (Q62)6. The opponent (with $150 remaining in his stack) checked and Hero bet $100 into the $107 pot.

This is where Hero really went wrong. It is important to realize that the opponent should have way more 6s in his range than Hero, meaning the opponent now has more premium made hands in his range than Hero. Also, when Hero bets, the opponent may only continue with Queens and better, all of which beat Hero. When you have a marginal made hand and a draw, the marginal made hand is where most of your value will come from (because you will usually miss your draw), meaning you should play as if you have a marginal made hand, not a draw. If Hero did not have a flush draw, he should definitely check behind or bet tiny. Instead, when Hero bets large, the opponent will play almost perfectly, which is a disaster for Hero. If you check behind and the opponent bets the river, you can easily call. If the opponent checks, you can then consider making a reasonably sized value bet.

The opponent thought for a while before folding 8-8 face-up. Like I said, what a disaster!