Pocket Kings Versus a Flop Bet on a Monotone Board
DECISION POINT: In a no-limit hold'em cash game, you raise from under the gun with . It folds around to the big blind who calls. The flop comes . The big blind bets. Action is on you...
PRO ANSWER: You raise preflop with pocket kings and get one caller, who bets out on this board.
This situation illustrates a misconception many people have about the game of poker. People tend to like to ask themselves the question "Am I ahead right now?" as opposed to "What is the most profitable to play this hand?" In this situation asking yourself the right question is key to finding the right answer.
In this particular spot we are $430 deep with a pot size of $43 (minus rake). Now normally when an opponent leads into us as the preflop aggressor a very strong play to make is a continuation raise, which is where we raise their lead into us on the flop in any situation where we would have bet had it been checked to us. Against a single opponent, this is certainly a situation where we would give heavy consideration to a continuation bet.
However, this board is highly coordinated and our opponent has a wide range of strong draws, made hands, and combinations of a pair plus a club in their hand. It's very unlikely given this range that they will fold if we raise. Our hand is also currently ahead of this range, but they are unlikely to fold. Many of the turn cards create very tricky situations for us, particularly if we bloat the pot on the flop.
In this particular situation, you should opt not to continuation raise and just call.
We have position, a reasonably strong but very vulnerable hand, and the stacks are deep enough that if more than one or two streets of action occur (or even if we got it all in!) it is very unlikely that our hand is best.
We should call here and try and get to a controlled showdown on most reasonable turn and river cards.
Calling is the best play.
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