Dear Dr Flopaset
I’m playing a sit ‘n’ go (SNG) and have 1,000 chips left. The blinds are 50-100 and under the gun I find a pair of Queens. I raise to 300 and get one caller in mid position who has me covered with 2,000 chips. The flop is Th-9h-7h and the action is on me, what do you suggest?
Dr Flopaset Replies:
Hmmm, Concerned, you are right to be concerned, that’s a pretty horrible flop for an overpair. It is what we call in the trade an extremely co-ordinated board. However, the good news is that you only have 700 chips left so you may as well go all-in and hope for the best. Remember, it’s hard to flop a flush or a straight. Depending on what sort of a player he is, the guy who called your raise could easily have A-T, J-T, K-T, Q-T, J-J, 8-8 or the Ace of hearts with a King or Queen kicker, all of which you are crushing at the moment. Of course, there’s another bunch of hands he could have which are beating you – A-A, K-K, T-T, 9-9, 7-7 T-9 as well as the flush or the straight, but you could drive yourself mad trying to work out if he’s got you or not.
The better play with your Q-Q would have been to go all-in before the flop and thus cut out a tough decision. Your chip stack is only ten times the big blind which is about the critical amount. You have raised 30% of your stack and to fold now would just leave you with a short stack and not much time to find a hand. Having said that, Q-Q is a premium hand and the sort of holding you want action with so there is nothing wrong with raising three times the big blind like you did, as long as you are prepared to stick it all-in on the flop no matter what comes. A tougher situation would be if you also had 2,000 chips – now you would be playing poker.
Hi Dr Flopaset
The other night I was playing a SNG when the following hand came up. The blinds were 50-100 and I had 1,500. The first player folded and I raised to 300 with Tc-Ts. Everyone folded apart from the button who had roughly the same amount of chips. The flop was Kh-9h-5c and I decided to bet 500. My opponent now pushed all-in. What should I do now?
Dr Flopaset Replies:
Hi Baffled. Well, the simple answer is call. Rather like dilemma number 1 you have committed 50% of your chips in this hand and now folding would only leave you with 700 and with the blinds at 50-100 your stack would be in desperation mode for the remainder of the SNG (don’t forget, in two hands time you will have to put in the big blind which would now represent about 14% of your 700 stack). But let’s think about what the villain in this coup could have. Unless he’s super tricky it doesn’t look like he has A-A, K-K, Q-Q, J-J or A-K as he probably would have re-raised with these holdings so let’s discount those hands.
While it’s entirely possible he has you beat with a hand like K-Q or K-J this all-in raise is now looking more like a semi-bluff on his part with a flush draw. If he does have the flush draw the worst case scenario would be if he had the Ah with either the Qh or Jh which would be a 53.5% favourite over your pair of Tens, but this is still an easy call as you’re getting 3.5-1 (2,450 in the pot, 700 for you to call). Of course, there’s going to be a few times when you call and your opponent shows you a set, but, hey, that’s poker!
I’m in a SNG under the gun with 1,500 chips. The blinds are 50-100 and I limp in with pocket 5s. Two other players call as well as the small blind and the flop comes down 6h-5h-4c. Wow, I’ve got a pretty good hand. The small blind comes out betting 300, the big blind folds and now it’s up to me. Should I just call to try to win more by keeping other people in for the next two cards?
Thanks for your help,
Dr Flopaset Replies:
Hi Excited. That is indeed an exciting situation you find yourself in; there is a very good chance you have the best hand and your opponents could be in bad shape. However, five of you have limped in so anything could be out there, not just a straight or a set of sixes, which both absolutely crush your hand, but many drawing hands and two pair hands which, of course, you are looking good against. Whether to flat call or raise doesn’t really matter – you are committed to this hand no matter what.
Slow playing your trips here is valid, especially if you feel there is likely to be a raiser behind you, but it could also lead to all sorts of tricky situations further down the line. By this I not only mean cards that could give your foes a better hand, but also cards that could freeze up the action for you. In other words, let’s say you call the 300 and so does one other player, so now there are three of you at the turn which is the 7c. Now there is a four-liner to a straight out there and while you could still be miles ahead it puts the other players off from carrying on in the hand with you.
Or what about if it comes a heart? As we’ve already established, you’re playing this puppy to the grave, so the only action you will get is from either a flush (bad, as now you’re losing and need to hit a card) or maybe somebody who has now picked up a flush draw. If they have some other hand like two pair the presence of the third heart on the board will now scare them off and they may now make a good fold which we don’t want them doing.
No, I think it’s better to raise and to charge your opponents for their draws. If anybody has anything they’re coming along with you no matter what and you’re certainly not laying down middle set at this point in the SNG. You want to get the other players in a position where they feel they have committed too much to the pot already and can’t pass. Some players would only raise the minimum here so as not to scare off their opponents, but it doesn’t really matter as, like I said earlier, you are committed to playing this hand to the river. Once again, if somebody shows you top set or a made straight, that’s poker!