Check-Raised After Flopping Top Pair: Call or Reraise All In?

Check-Raised After Flopping Top Pair: Call or Reraise All In?

DECISION POINT: In a no-limit hold'em tournament, it folds to a player in middle position who raises. From the cutoff you reraise with {A-Spades}{Q-Diamonds}. It folds to the small blind who calls, as does the original raiser. The flop is {A-Clubs}{10-Diamonds}{6-Hearts}. It checks to you and you bet, then the small blind raises and the middle position player folds. Action is on you...

PRO ANSWER: In general, we would continue against this check-raise from the small blind in a heads-up pot. Given that we bet around 35 percent pot in a spot where we will often continuation bet with a high frequency, the small blind could be check-raising with a number of hands that we have beat. The relatively low SPR (stack-to-pot ratio) of approximately 3.5-to-1 is an argument for continuing as well.

However, the presence of another opponent on the flop makes this situation worse for us, since it should narrow small blind's check-raising range. That fact makes this spot much closer than it appears at first glance. Many opponents only check-raise a very narrow range with a third player still in the hand.

Whether or not to continue with {A-Spades}{Q-Diamonds} comes down to how many semi-bluff check-raises are in small blind's range. Our opponent's semi-bluff check-raising range could consist of gutshots and backdoor draws such as KQs, KJs, QJs, 98s, or 87s. If the small blind's range contains only value hands such as AT, A6s, 66, TT, and AQ+, then we have a clear fold.

Given that the middle position player checked the flop and we bet about 35 percent pot in a high c-bet frequency spot, we should include a number of those type of semi-bluff combos in the small blind's range as a default.

Against an opponent who rarely or never check-raises as a semi-bluff in a multi-way pot, we can get away from our {A-Spades}{Q-Diamonds}. Facing opponents who are capable of check-raising here with gutshots and backdoor draws, we should continue with ace-queen.

As a default, we should assume our opponents are capable of bluffing some of the time here, so continuing with {A-Spades}{Q-Diamonds} will be a profitable play. Since there are so few chips left for which to play and Villain can often turn lots of equity, we should often reraise all in on the flop instead of calling, even though calling would also be profitable.

Moving all in is the best play.

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