Pocket Queens on an Ace-High Flop: What Do You Do Here?
DECISION POINT: In a $1/$3 no-limit hold'em cash game, a UTG player raises and the cutoff calls. It folds to you in the small blind with . You reraise, and the UTG player calls. The cutoff folds. The flop comes . Action is on you...
PRO ANSWER: In a $1/$3 cash game we reraise preflop from the small blind with pocket queens against an early position raiser and a late position caller. Only the early position player calls and from out of position we see an ace-high flop.
At this point we must decide whether or not to make a continuation bet and if so, what size we should make it.
In general, we want to maintain a balanced range whenever we take a specific action. So if we decide to continuation bet (or check) here, we should also do the same when we have other hands in our range, like or .
For example, we don’t want to c-bet only when we have (top pair) and always check when we have or . Doing so would make us easier to play against in the long run.
As part of an overall default strategy against an unknown opponent, it is usually better to c-bet in heads-up pots when we were the last aggressor preflop, with a few exceptions.
Given the narrowness of our hand range (and our opponent’s) in this three-bet pot, we can expect that an unknown opponent is unlikely to fire multiple street bluffs against us if we check the flop. More importantly, if we choose to c-bet here, we are unlikely to get action from any worse hands than ours.
For these reasons, checking is the better play in this specific situation and is a deviation from our default strategy. In general, we should be willing to call one street of betting after we check the flop in these scenarios.
We are assuming that an average opponent may take a stab at the pot with some poor made hands, but will not generally be willing to turn their poor made hands into multi-street bluffs on this ace-high board.
Checking is the best play.
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