Quiz: Making a Perfect Read Against Villain Holding A-A

Donkey Test Question #19

Question:

You’re in the big blind of a cash game. The blinds are $1/$2 and everyone at the table has $50,000 in front of them. It’s folded to the button, who raises to $7. He accidentally exposes his cards in the process and you see that he holds Ac-Ad. He knows that you saw his hole cards. He did not see your cards. What range of hands should you call with? Which hands should you re-raise with?

  1. Fold all hands
  2. Call with any two cards (ATC), and re-raise with KK, QQ, and JJ
  3. Call with any pair or suited connector, fold everything else
  4. Call with ATC, do not re-raise with anything
  5. Call with ATC, and re-raise only with KK
  6. Call with ATC, and re-raise only with AA

Answer:

(d) Call with Any Two Cards — Do Not Raise

Introduction & Overview:

We all dream of situations where we have X-ray vision and can see our opponent’s cards—and then capitalize on that ability. Well, we’re kinda in that situation here. The difference of course is our opponent knows that we know that he has A-A. So what should we do? Let’s look at REDi and see if the answer is revealed.

REDi Analysis:

REDi stands for Read-Evaluate-Decide-Implement, and it’s the basic framework that I use for analyzing all poker hands–both on- and off-poker tables. For those of you unfamiliar with the REDi process, I suggest a quick refresher read by clicking here.

R is for Reads:

First, we make our Reads, which, obviously, are incredibly easy here. We know that our opponent holds two Aces. We also know that he knows that we know this.

E is for Evaluating:

Now we Evaluate. Our direct expressed pot equity with essentially all cards we hold at this point is very bad. Unless we hold the two remaining case Aces, our equity for basically all other hands we can have is way down around 15-20%, max. We also will be out of position against this player post flop. Sounds awful, doesn’t it?

Well, not really. The fact is we have the holy grail of poker: a perfect read. In other words, we have the edge of knowing whether a flop hits our opponent or not. The villain does not enjoy this same luxury, and this gives us a tremendous advantage.

Even better, we are super deep stacked here, so we have incredible quantitative implied odds to take a flop. We only have, at most, 20% pot equity, but we’re getting whopping implied odds of 10,000:1 to continue. This is huge.

We’re also not pot committed if we call and see a flop; the SPR is something nuts like 3,333.

D is for Deciding:

Next, we Decide on the best line to take. With lousy pot equity and no preflop fold equity whatsoever, we’re certainly not going to raise. I.e., we won’t get the villain to fold his hand if we raise, as we’ll certainly get re-raised.

Therefore, our hand is neither a value nor bluff hand (at this point, preflop), but it does, however, have extremely great drawing potential– regardless of what two cards we actually hold. Even if we had 7-2 offsuit, we should call and try to hit two pair or better.

The best line for us, therefore, is to just call and see what the flop brings.

I is for Implementing:

To Implement this line, we simply close out the action with a call and then watch closely what the flop brings. If the board hits our hand with two-pair or better, we’re going to probably do something like check-call or check-raise. If the flop improves the villain’s hand to a set or better, we’re done with our own hand, and we’ll just check-fold. If both us and the villain whiff the flop, we can get tricky and think about applying pressure in the form of a multi-street bluff; any competent bad guy in this spot won’t/can’t get married to a 1-pair hand when we’re this super deep and he knows that we know what he holds.

Discussion/Takeaway:

Commandment Number #4 of Winning Poker is Thou Shall Put the Villain On a Range and Line. In this specific situation, we have the perfect read on both the Villain’s range and line. We know if and when he hits the board or not, and he, therefore, cannot ever bluff us. He also can’t value bet us. He can’t do much in fact, except try to limit the damage and pot control us to a showdown.

Poker is a game of incomplete information. In this unusual spot, we have perfect information, and can, therefore, make the perfect post-flop decisions. The key is to simply call preflop and then exploit our perfect knowledge on the subsequent streets of action.

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