Someone on CardsChat posted this hand up the other day and I thought it was a good hand that demonstrates how to use hand reading and poker combinations to make tough, but good folds. It’s never fun to put a lot of money in with Top two pair, and then have to abandon ship. But good folds are essential to make, and when you can turn these kinds of hands from coolers, into tough, but good folds, you’ll be well on your way.

Only read is that Opponent (BTN) is fairly passive post-flop. My comments in BLUE as the hand plays out.

iPoker – €0.20 NL (6 max) – Holdem – 5 players

UTG: 153.55 BB (VPIP: 33.93, PFR: 23.64, 3Bet Preflop: 15.38, Hands: 59)
Hero (CO): 157.7 BB
BTN: 156.9 BB (VPIP: 23.70, PFR: 15.61, 3Bet Preflop: 4.98, Hands: 8,873)
SB: 100 BB (VPIP: 29.81, PFR: 24.53, 3Bet Preflop: 3.13, Hands: 275)
BB: 121.8 BB (VPIP: 20.26, PFR: 15.53, 3Bet Preflop: 2.76, Hands: 393)

SB posts SB 0.5 BB, BB posts BB 1 BB

Pre Flop: (pot: 1.5 BB) Hero has A K

fold, Hero raises to 2.5 BB, BTN raises to 8 BB, fold, fold, Hero calls 5.5 BB

I’m going to skip over whether 4-betting or calling here is most ideal this deep. It’s really player dependent when your OOP, but when you have a passive opponent, just calling tends to be more ideal long term. So Hero opens from the CO and get’s 3-bet by a BTN who 3-bets about 5%. So we know on the button that’s going to be a bit wider, but because of this opponent, probably still not more than ~8%. So his 3-bet range will look something like this:

AJs+(100), AQo+(100), TT+(100) PLUS he’ll have some speculative hands like A5s, QTs, K9s etc… that will make up about the additional 3% of his range as far as some non-polarized value range and some bluffs.


Flop: (17.5 BB, 2 players) 8 A K
Hero bets 10.5 BB, BTN calls 10.5 BB

So Hero decides to donk into the 3-bettor on a good flop for his hand. He’s thinking is that he wants to get raised in this spot. But does he? Someone passive post-flop raising on this flop wouldn’t include AQ, and in a 3-bet pot, he probably won’t be apt to bluff that much. The only worse value hand he might be raising here is A8. None the less, betting here is fine. I’d prefer to c/c or if I was going to bet, bet large to confuse my opponent into making worse calls w/ a Hand like Ax.


Turn: (38.5 BB, 2 players) J
Hero bets 23.1 BB, BTN calls 23.1 BB

Hero leads again for ~60% of pot, and BTN just calls. Not bad sizing. I think considering BTN’s continuing range, about 55-60% is a good turn value bet size.


River: (84.7 BB, 2 players) 6
Hero bets 50.8 BB, BTN raises to 115 BB, Hero ?

So here’s the most interesting spot. River bricks, Hero bets ~60% of pot again and gets jammed on. Now Hero has to call 64.2 BB’s into a pot of 250.5 BB’s for ~3:1. Hero should fold. But he put so much money in already and he has top two! Doesn’t matter, he’s beat, and here’s why:


By the time we get to the river, BEFORE Hero bets and gets jammed on, BTN’s range is the following:

AK, AA, KK, JJ, A8, AJ, QT –  and maybe a discounted 88 (partly because it’s probably not in this kind of opponent 3-bet range, but mostly because of how he played it. He would have raised by the turn most of the time, but AA/KK and other hands he’d likely continue to call down since he crushes his opponents’ range, and other marginal 2 pairs like A8/AJ, there’s not enough worse hands calling a raise.


So BTN’s jamming range becomes pretty clearly:

AK, AA, KK, JJ, QT and that’s basically it. Probably less than a 1% chance that there’s any bluffs in this kind of player range this deep. Meaning, even if he floated the flop confused about the donk lead, and then turned some kind of big draw, it’s extremely unlikely he’s jamming giving HERO pretty good odds to call his bluff. So now we look at that range and see how many we beat, and how many combos of each there are once we get to the end of the hand.


poker combinations

Adding up the poker combinations:

AK – 4 combos of AKo/AKs left.

AA – 1 combo

KK- 1 combo

JJ – 3 combos

QT – 16 combos

25 Total hand combinations

4 HERO Splits with = 4/25 = 16%

21 HERO Loses to = 20/25 = 84%


So you essentially have 4 combos that you split the pot w/ in AK, and 21 combos left that beat you. 4 / 25 give us 16%, and HERO needs at least 25% to make a profitable call. It’s just not there, and it’s not as close as you might have thought. He’s making a call to chop, with no worse hands that will be shoving.


If AJ shoves 100% of the time:

Then we add another 8 combinations that HERO would win against, which would then give us:

33 Total hand combinations

12 Hero Splits or wins with = 36%

21 Hero Loses to = 20/32 = 64%


So now if we say that BTN shoves AK/AJ 100% of the time, then it’s a profitable river call. But this is highly unlikely. It’s highly unlikely that if BTN didn’t raise those hands by the turn, it’s unlikely they are jamming them by the river. It’s not even likely that BTN is shoving AK 100% of the time.


These are the kinds of folds you need to be able to make as you move up in stakes. It’s difficult when you have a big hand to calculate what worse value and shoving range your opponent most likely has, but these kinds of hands illustrate that a fold should be clear. GL at the poker tables!



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