I recently had the pleasure to travel to Montreal to play the World Poker Tour $1,000,000 guaranteed $5,000 buy-in event. As usual, I was playing my standard, fairly loose, aggressive strategy, which consists of raising a lot of hands preflop and making numerous small stabs postflop. There was a young Brazilian guy across the table from me who also happened to be very loose and aggressive. We had tangled a little, with me getting the best of him twice (he bet twice and I called down with middle pair both times) before this hand came up.
He raised from the cutoff to 600 out of his 40,000 chip stack and I, also with 40,000 chips, 3-bet to 2,000 from the small blind with.
While you normally want to make a pot-sized raise when 3-betting, you should make it a touch larger when you are out of position.
My opponent called. The flop came
Q-Q is clearly a marginal made hand on A-A-x because it is quite easy to be against an Ace, but if I am not against an Ace, I almost certainly have the best hand and my opponent is drawing quite then. If I bet and get called or raised, I will have no clue how to proceed on the turn. The main problem with checking is that it makes my range look capped, most likely at underpairs in my opponent’s eyes. If you are going to check Q-Q in this spot, also be sure to check some trips as well that can easily check-call down on all three streets. Checking in this spot makes a lot of sense due to my opponent’s loose, aggressive tendencies. If you know your opponent likes to bluff, do your best to not fold your decent bluff catchers. I checked and my opponent bet 2,500.
Many recreational players see an Ace on the flop and instantly go into check-fold mode. You should rarely be looking to get away from a spot like this for one, or even multiple bets, against an aggressive opponent because his range is very wide, especially when he just calls my preflop 3-bet, perhaps J-J - 2-2, A-K - A-2, K-Q - K-10, and numerous connectors and one-gappers, such as 8-6s. Against that range, most of which I expect him to bet on the flop after I check, I am in great shape. Also, he probably would 4-bet preflop with the weak A-x hands, due to their poor postflop playability, removing a few of his effective nut hands from his range.
The turn was the () . I checked and he bet 5,000.
Given my opponent’s aggressive tendencies, I was not too concerned about being beat. The 5 on the turn may seem like a blank, but it actually gives my opponent many straight draws that can happily continue bluffing, allowing me to easily call. Notice that if instead of this loose, aggressive player, I was against a tight, passive player, I would instantly fold the turn with little thought because their range for betting twice in this situation is usually only trips or better.
I called. The river was the () . I checked and my opponent bet 12,000.
At this point, the pot had around 18,000 in it, so this certainly looked and felt like a value bet, which should make this a rather simple fold under most circumstances. The problem was he had shown a willingness to fire multiple times at as a bluff, plus, I thought he was smart enough to size his bluffs and value bets around the same size, meaning his likely did not indicate strength or weakness. After thinking for a while, I decided to call and he turned up A-K. Even though I lost this hand, it goes to show you how important it is to stay aggressive. If my opponent was a tighter or more passive player, he would have won a much smaller pot, as I would have folded my Q-Q to his turn bet. By keeping the pedal to the metal, he induced me to call down with all my bluff catchers, which won him a pile of my chips.