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Playing Ace-Rag From Out of Position

Playing Ace-Rag From Out of Position
  • Is @JonathanLittle's opponent bluffing on this river? See if he calls or folds with his small pair.

  • Tournament hand analysis: @JonathanLittle tries to play from out of position with ace-rag.

Here's a tournament hand in which I find myself playing ace-rag from out of position — not exactly the best spot in which to be.

We were pretty deep-stacked (about 130 big blinds deep) and with the blinds at 75/150 a good, young player raised to 375 from the cutoff. I had {A-Spades}{6-Clubs} in the big blind and defended with a call.

As I note in the video below, ace-six offsuit is not a good hand to play, especially when out of position, but to a small open like this one (2.25x) it is probably worth defending. The problem is {A-Spades}{6-Clubs} is often going to make a lot of marginal holdings at best, which you obviously don't want when first to act.

The flop came {10-Spades}{6-Diamonds}{4-Hearts} to pair my six. I could see leading on a more coordinated board with my middle pair (or with good draw), but on a dry board like this checking makes more sense. Especially when out of position, I want to keep the pot manageable if I can.

My opponent bet 500 and I called, and the turn brought the {3-Clubs}. I checked again, and this time my opponent checked behind, suggesting I probably had the best hand at this point.

The river was the {Q-Hearts} and I checked, and my opponent bet 1,100 into the pot of just under 1,900. At this point I have to assess the likelihood of my opponent — whom I have marked as a good player — bluffing on this river. Take a look below to hear my analysis and see what happened:

So ace-rag worked out for me after all in this instance. Note how I took into consideration as well how passively I'd played the hand up to the river, which tends to encourage opponents to bluff more.

Jonathan Little is a professional poker player and author with over $6,700,000 in live tournament earnings. He writes a weekly educational blog and hosts a podcast at You can follow him on Twitter @JonathanLittle.

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