Tricky Spot with A-9 Suited

Strategy & Advice by allin67 Posted

I am going to post a few hands as a trial spin of the new Poker Atlas site. I know there is a lot of concern about the new site and I share some of the concerns. However, I don't want this community to dissolve and I don't want to lose the resource of having great discussion about poker strategy. So, I am going to post a few of the more interesting hands that I have played of late. I am hoping to have the same old community and great discussions about poker strategy. Here is the first installment.

I have just been seated at a new $1-$2-$100 table in Blackhawk, Colorado (spread limit game, bets up to $100 on all streets). The hand is question will literally be my second hand, so reads at the table are minimal. However, in this very brief time, I manage to listen in on a conversation where the player who will become Villain #1 reveals that he is a professional tournament player (whether he wins or not, who knows, but he claims to play poker tournaments as a full time job. Based on the way he handles himself, I am inclined to believe this story. He is telling this to another person and does not seem to be boastful in his claim). That is my one read specific read.

While the game is $1/$2, this table also has been doing optional Mississippi straddles. There is something about the table talk, stacks at the table, and perhaps other things that lead me to believe that this is a heavy action table that is going to play like a $2/$5 table. I am already pondering a table change as $2/$5 involve stakes that are above my comfort level. But this hand happens before I act upon my impulse to move.

There is a button straddle on for this hand for $5. Villain #1 (tournament pro) limps from the SB. Three more limpers for $5 after that. From cutoff position, I find A-9 of Hearts. I join the limpede. Button checks his option. Six players are set to see the flop. Pot is roughly $30, not counting rake (so pot might be $25 with rake).

Flop is 9-2-2, with one of the twos being a Heart (Rainbow Flop). Everyone checks to me and I bet $20. Villain #1 (Tournament Pro) calls as does one other random player (call him Villain #2). Turn is a black five. It checks to me on the turn and I check behind, a bit confused and cautious with two callers on the flop. I think this table is loose and aggressive, so I still believe I am ahead more than 50% of the time (someone may be making a loose call with overcards and/or hoping to steal the pot on a later street.... someone may have a weaker nine). But I am also not eager to lose a horde of money those time someone shows up with some goofy hand with a duece. My plan, on checking the turn, is to call a reasonable bet on the river (or bet for value if check to). Pot has grown to roughly $85 (now counting rake).

River is the three of Hearts (no flush possible). Tournament pro leads out for $60. Villain #2 pauses for fifteen seconds and calls $60. Action is to me (and now "us" because I am sharing this situation with you). What do you do? Thoughts on how the hand was played on other streets are always welcome.....



  1. Thank you for posting Allin. I am a long time poker atlas user and never really was involved with AVP prior, so really enjoy having more folks around to talk poker with. So I certainly welcome you and all avp'ers, and appreciate you posting these!

    Yikes this hand is a tough spot, and one of those that can really change my mood after making the wrong decision. My suggestion in this hand would have been to bet the turn and then check back the river. Reason being, you have less of an "unknown" scenarios when someone bets into you. If you get check raised, it's an easy fold...or you can call and fold if he bets again on the river. Or if he calls the turn and then leads into you on the river, then you have a somewhat easier decision than you do in the scenario you described.

    My philosophy is to maintain the initiative on hands as much as possible, so you can make call/fold decisions based on how people play back at you. Otherwise it's a very difficult game to play when you don't have a basis for which to determine calls and folds against.

    Fwiw I'm an intermediate cash and tourney player. I tend to be better at helping others than myself while playing because the heat of the moment tends to cloud my ability to be as rational when I'm not playing.

    I could go on and on about this hand since it is so borderline in so many instances, but instead I'll stop here and look forward to the next post.

  2. I fold. New game, could be friends attempting to "middle you". Who knows. Not worth the $60 to me.

  3. Allin,

    I think I'd have bet a little lighter on the flop -- closer to $15. It still get you the same information, but I like it because I think it keeps the pot a little smaller. Having done that and gotten the same callers, the pot would be about $70 on the turn and I'd fire another bet of around $35-40. Given the pot as it was, I'd still bet, but it would be $45-50. I make the second bet because as you said, you are likely ahead a lot of the time and the second bet probably gets any naked overcards out of the hand, improving your chances to win the pot and killing the chance for someone to float the flop and bluff the river if you check behind. It also makes it more likely that it will be checked to you on the river, since you've kept the initiative on the turn. So, you are building a pot when you are ahead, charging and weird draws and giving yourself an easier decision on the river. If you bet and are check-raised, then you muck and move on.

    As played, with the bet and the call, the pot is $205 and it costs you $60 to call. So, you've got to be right less than 1 out of 3 times to make the call +EV. There is some chance that one of the players has a hand with a 2, also A-4 and 6-4 beat you here, although with the calls on the flop, I've got to discount those. So, I guess the question is are "we" 70% sure that we are beat here?

    I'd have to say the answer to that is "No" and we have to call. Here's my thinking. We have no reads but it's also true that the 2 villains in this hand no read on "us". So, it is possible that the tourney pro could be floating the flop and trying to steal later or hoping to improve with 2 overcards, particularly if he flopped a backdoor flush draw to go with them. He could also have a 2 and been waiting for us to bet the turn and check-raise. V2's pause and then call concerns me, because that could be a hand with a 2, that paused to try and get an overcall. But, since V2 has no read on us it could also be that he is pausing with worse 9 and wondering if his hand is good versus not only the tourney pro, but also versus our hand. So, I'd say that I'm about 50-50 that we are beat and while I hate calling off light, I don't think that we have enough certainty to justify a fold.


    P.S. Truth be told. This is really easy for me to say sitting in front of my laptop screen and my initial gut reaction was "fold." In real life, knowing how I play, I'd probably do that a lot more often than the math says that I should.

  4. Thanks for all the comments. Dap, it's good to see you on Poker Atlas. I hope more from the AVP Community make the migration! Game Changer, I especially appreciate your longer response. And, finally, 3Tenor, I think I recall your name from AVP, but thank you regardless. And, by the way, I wish I had taken your advice 3Tenor!

    My thinking at the table was fairly close to what Dap had to say. At first my gut was to fold. I had this sense that maybe the Tournament Pro had a duece. But I played weakly on the turn and, at an aggressive table, he might have just been pouncing on perceived weakness. And Villain #2's hand wasn't strong enough to raise, so maybe he had a nine with a worse kicker. And then I calculated the pot odds. I needed to call $60 to win over $200!!!??? Wow, that seemed to good to pass up. So I called.

    Poker Tournament Pro had his two cards pressed together and place them together to reveal only a nine. Then he slowly, confidently slide the top car a bit to the side to reveal his three kicker. He had rivered a better two pair than my nines and dueces!! Although both cards were diamonds, his play of this crap from the SB (which acted first given the straddle and had to call an extra $4) seemed highly "unprofessional". But no (more) crying over spilled milk. I am always glad to have people playing such mediocre hands, although his cocky slow roll was a bit obnoxious.

    But that's not all! Villain #2 turned over 2-6 of Hearts for trip Dueces with a six Kicker. That was the winning hand. Wow, I called off $60 in third place! While I am fine playing against players who play crap, there was something about the stakes of this game and disregard for money that had me out-classed. These guys were really there to gamble. Another player was raising to $100 (table max) with fair regularity. I moved tables and was able to ekk out a small win playing against a more standard set of players.

    I have been debating whether the call was a bad one (which is why I ultimately posted it here). Really, I could only beat: (1) V#1 bluffing and V#2 calling with a weaker nine, or; (2) V#1 and V#2 somehow both having worse nines, which is highly unlikely. A pure bluff here on the river by the Tournament Pro, against two opponents who called a $20 flop bet despite how little was on the flop, and despite acting first and not having the benefit of seeing what his two opponents would do on the river, seems ballsy (hence somewhat less likely). If he was firing a blocking bet (with a hand like 8-8), would he really bet $60? It seems more likely he tones it down to something like $40. So, in the end, I am not sure if I made the right call. Obviously, I lost and you can call it a bad play. But I believe along the lines of what Dap said. I was 30% or better to win, perhaps it was a good call. But did I really have this much chance? I do find it hard to find hands they both could have had that would have resulted in my winning the pot. I lean towards thinking this was a bad call by me.

    On final point of discussion on this hand, and it relates to Dap's suggestion that I bet a bit light on the flop. I think I tend to disagree with this suggestion, in this circumstance. I have the strong sense that this table is loose and aggressive. It seems like a 50% of pot bet might be interpreted as weak, potentially encouraging some sort of loose, aggressive play back at me. I wanted the bet to seem more confident and less tentative. I feel like the extra $5 does that, and therefore gives me a bit more information when I do get called/raised. On the other hands, had I bet something like $35 or $40 on the turn (as several posters suggested), I certainly would have saved money overall on the hand (as my plan in doing this would certainly be to NOT put any more money above and beyond that).

    Thanks again for all the replies. Any further discussion is certainly welcome as well.

  5. Thanks for posting a hand and getting the conversation going here. Two things I'll add. Mark me down as another with gut instinct to fold here. There must be something about your description that has made a bunch of us lean that way. Second, the other post hoc rationalization I could make for a fold is that it is the second hand at the table and you get to see what the winner is for free. 60 for 200 looks reasonable here and its just these kind of edge decisions we all have to figure out how to get right in order to play winning poker. Thanks all for the discussion.

  6. I think "we" should fold. You might be able to beat one of them, but with a better and a caller with you still behind to act indicates that you are probably beat. The pot odds are good and if you had been at the table for a while and had a better feel for the players, you might be able to find a call; but being new to the table, I suggest resolving this one on the safe side.

  7. I can see your point about betting a bit bigger on the flop given your sense that a smaller bet might encourage someone to play back at you. I wasn't considering that some players at that table might perceive it as weakness.


  8. Great responses. I also am in the camp of betting the turn for $30 or so. I generally play by the maxim of "bet your hand until someone tells you it's no good." And I probably would have paid off the $60 because of pot odds and the fact that I have seen some pretty weird stuff in 1/2 NL games and your hand has good showdown value.