A Limit hold'em hand

Strategy & Advice by DapPoker Posted

This hand occurred at Orleans when a friend was in town. He likes to play $2-4 limit so we headed over there one night after dinner and I joined him in that game. Table had a number of locals, including several who clearly played together at this casino often and seemed to know each other's ranges really well.

I'm in middle position with Q J and there are 4 limps to me. I normally act fast, but took a little time to think about this spot and as I did the 2 regulars to my left called. At that point, I liked my pot odds a lot better and called, both kept their limps out there and the button and small blind also called. Family pot which post rake was $18.

Flop is A J 7 ,

giving me 2nd pair with a backdoor straight and backdoor flush draw.

Small blind, one of the regulars bets and several other regulars fold before it gets to me. I decided to call.

My Question: Is this a spot that I should be raising?

I figured that based on both my own read and the fact that several regulars folded, the small blinds had an A, so I was behind. I also thought A-J and A-Q unlikely because she tended to raise with bigger aces (although A-7 might be in her range). So, if I hit a 3rd Jack it was almost certainly good. If I hit a queen my 2 pair is good a lot of the time. Plus, I had both a backdoor straight draw (to the nut straight) and a backdoor flush draw to the 3rd nut flush. So, thinking about the concept of "partial outs" I probably had the equivalent of 6 outs (2 jacks, almost 3 for the queens, and about a half out each for the backdoor draws).

This seems a little too weak for a raise to me. But looking back, does trying to buy additional outs (by getting say K-10 to fold a gutshot) make it worth the extra small bet in this spot?

Also, since the original bettor on the flop was in the small blind, does the possibility that a raise on the flop might allow me to take a free card on the turn make a raise now worthwhile (remember there are still 3 players behind me, two of whom are regulars and might be folding just to the small blind's bet)?




  1. I'm going to take the long winded way of saying you basically answered your own questions from my perspective. I can't find any reason to disagree with you. I should also note that if this was me, I'd be drunk and I'd have put in a raise before the flop after those two guys limped out of position because opportunities for big pots come up so rarely at 2/4 and I also like people to think I'm a little nuts or dumb.

    Seems like there's a few good reasons to raise if you don't plan to fold. If KJ folds behind you, that's good. You mentioned K10 folding, which is good. If a weak ace folds behind you, that's good. If the early bettor has a weak ace and checks the turn allowing you to either represent a strong hand or take a free card on the turn that's good, as you mentioned. Generally, at 2/4 I'll just take the damned free card cause I've yet to meet the guy who can fold an ace in that game.

    Maybe I'm too loose, but in this spot I feel like I have just enough hand to want to see the turn. Raising disguises our hand somewhat and has the potential to get us all the way to the river without putting another dollar in the pot. If you're not folding, raise.

  2. Sometimes I see people raising here to take a free card by checking back on the turn if no one bets into me, but I usually just play it more conservatively and call to see the turn card. It seems like much of the time the original bettor checks the turn anyway.

  3. So there are still a decent number of people left to act after you? The more people left to act after you, the less I like a raise here. It would really stink if you raise and get re-raised. Not that its a ton of money, but if you make it $4 and someone makes it $6, you are likely drawing somewhere between slim and almost dead. Similarly, if you get several callers after you, you can become pretty certain that any Spade you are counting as an out is, in fact, very likely not an out at all (greatly reducing your equity). If you were the button and there are no other callers, I'd like a raise a lot more. I don't think raising here is horrible by any means; it's close. But with something like 2 or 3 people left to act, I'd lean slightly toward smooth calling. As a general rule, keeping pots small when you are likely behind is a good practice. The advantage of raising is buying a free river card much of the time.... which does have merit too. Again, I'd lean towards smooth calling given the info we have.

  4. @allin67 - there were 3 more people to act after me; so I guess based on that you'd say to smooth call.

  5. @Dap Poker

    Sorry allin67 but calling is poor advice. If you're not going to raise, you should fold honestly. Not raising invites guys who might beat us on the turn an opportunity to call cheaply and provides little information about the strength of our opponents hands. Would we like J10 to fold? How about JK?

    I likely missed the point when I read Sklansky/Miller's small stakes hold em book, but it seems like they suggest we should pursue the play which gives us the best chance of winning the pot. Raising potentially buys outs, obtains free cards, and provides more information about the strength of our opponents hands.

  6. @DinosaurCourt - I've been re-reading the Sklansky/Miller book. That's why when I revisited the hand after the session, I kicked myself for not raising the flop. The turn seemed like the perfect card for my hand -- the 10 , giving me both a gutshot and a flush draw. The small blind bet, I called and the button called. The river also seemed perfect -- the Q giving me the 2nd nuts. The small blind checked disgustedly, I bet and the button raised. After the small blind folded, I looked at the button and said "show me the king of spades" as I made a crying call into the $42 pot.

    Having watched the button, I'm not sure he folds his K-5 offsuit there (he loved chasing his draws), but I still think raising is the best play here. It's also an area where I know I have a huge hole in my game, I'm just not aggressive enough in these situations and it is kicking me in the a$$. Not only is my passive play potentially costing me pots like this, I think it is making me way too easy to read and allowing some opponents to get away from hands against me (yes there are some people who do fold in limit). The result -- I'm losing a lot of big pots and winning small ones, which is not a good combination.