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Ace-King vs. a Flop All-in: Fold, Call or Raise?

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LearnWPT - Ace-King vs. a Flop All-in: Fold, Call or Raise?
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  • You raise Ah-Ks preflop, get two callers. Short-stack shoves 5c-4s-2s flop. You? @LearnWPT evaluates.

  • 5c-4s-2s flop, you have Ah-Ks, two opponents. Short-stack shoves flop. Your move? Ask @LearnWPT.

DECISION POINT: In a $1/$2 no-limit hold'em cash game it folds to you in the cutoff where you've been dealt {A-Hearts}{K-Spades}. You raise, and both the button and big blind call. The flop comes {5-Clubs}{4-Spades}{2-Spades}, and the big blind moves all in for a little more than a pot-sized bet.

The action is on you...

PRO ANSWER: We make a standard preflop raise with ace-king and are called in two spots, one by a very short stack. On a {5-Clubs}{4-Spades}{2-Spades} board, the short stack moves all in for a little more than the size of the pot.

There are several things to consider when deciding the best course of action. First, if the short stack had a really strong hand here, wouldn't the player be more likely to check to the preflop raiser? The fact that the big blind led with a shove rather than a check means it is unlikely the player has a very strong hand.

The big blind may or may not be bluffing, but the player definitely feels their hand is vulnerable. So hands like medium pocket pairs and a lot of {A-}{x-} hands here are easily in the big blind's range as well as flush draws.

Given that, it's very likely that even when we are behind, our ace, king, and wheel draw are all live, giving us 10 outs twice (we even have a backdoor flush draw to the king we're not factoring in here). That gives us a roughly 38 percent chance of making our hand by the river, and the pot is laying us roughly 2-to-1.

Even if we are behind, as long as all 10 of our outs are clean we have the right price to continue here. The fact that we are sometimes ahead of our opponent is merely a bonus. So the next question is do we just call the bet or raise?

If the short stack's shove had been a bit smaller we would be much more likely to make a small isolation raise here, but given that it's slightly larger than the size of the pot we think that the button is unlikely to come along. Meanwhile if we make an isolation raise and the button continues, it puts us in a very awkward spot given the pot size and the stack sizes.

Calling is the best play in this situation.

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