Quiz: Two Pair in a Deep Stack Game Facing Strong River Aggression

Donkey Test Question #21


You are in a $5/$10 no-limit cash game that is 7-handed. You are loose, passive, and you generally play badly. You and the tight player in the BB both have $3000 stacks. It is folded to you on the button, where you hold As-6s. You make a standard $40 raise and the BB calls. The flop is Ac-6d-Jh. The BB leads out for $80. You call. The turn is the 7s. The BB bets $200 and you raise to $400. The BB re-raises to $800. You call. The river is the 2s. The BB moves all-in for his last $1900. What should you do?

  1. Fold
  2. Call


(a) Fold

Introduction & Overview:

This is a weird problem because it states we “generally play badly.” So do we answer pretending we’re a bad player and give a bad analysis? Uh, maybe, but I have a hard time thinking that way. Ergo, I’m going to answer this like an expert evaluating a poor student’s play. Further, I’ll assume the other players at the table are aware of our poor play.

The other thing to note before we begin is that this is simply a pot odds question. That is, the villain is all-in and we can only call or fold. This means we “simply” need to evaluate the pot odds and then compare them to our pot equity. As we’ll see, the former is easy. The latter, however, requires an accurate hand read to properly estimate the strength of our hand (i.e., our pot equity) against the villain’s range. As usual, we’ll use REDi to to do these steps.

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 the poker tables. It’s a very simple—yet powerful—system for logically working through any hand situation and deciding on the correct course of action. For those of you unfamiliar with my REDi process, I suggest a quick refresher read by clicking here.  Don’t worry; I’ll wait for you to come back. 😉

Got it? Good. Here’s what REDi has to say for this particular hand:

R is for Reads:

Preflop Reads:

The villain is a tight player, and our image is loose, passive, and poor. We’re very deep with 300BB stacks, so the tight player has a lot of implied odds to call with a very wide range here. He will be OOP, so this will tighten his range a little bit, but it’s still pretty wide. I’d say something like 22-JJ, most suited aces, and pretty much all broadways from JTo to AJs. Maybe some smaller connectors (suited and otherwise) might also be in his range. Cards stronger than AJs and JJ would generally be re-raised, especially from good players who know they will be OOP throughout the rest of the hand.

Postflop Reads:

Villain donks into us on the flop, knowing full well that we’re passive and will call along relatively light, which we do. The villain’s 3bet on the turned 7s indicates a pretty strong hand. If we narrow his range down, I’d say it would be somewhere as strong as sets (66, 77, JJ), and two pair (AJ). He might also (very infrequently) think a 1-pair hands like AQo is good. We called his 3bet, so he knows we’re relatively strong too, yet he still shoves for $1900 on the blank 2s river. In other words he knows we’re probably strong and—more important—we generally can’t be bluffed (i.e., we’re a bad calling station; it’s that old maxim that you can’t bluff a bad player writ in reverse) yet he still leads and gets in all his money. Said another way: he wants us to call.

E is for Evaluating:

Pot Odds:

There’s $3750 in the pot, and it’s going to cost us $1900 to make the call. This means we’re getting 1.97:1 on our money, or 33.7%.

Pot Equity:

To calculate our pot (hand) equity against villain’s range, we use an equity calculator. I’m a Mac guy, so I use Poker Cruncher (which, btw, seems to get more and more powerful with each update the developer releases; this is a really good piece of software):

D is for Deciding:

As mentioned above, these kinds of call-or-don’t-call-all-in decisions are easy if you’ve made a good read. Assuming our read is correct, we simply compare the pot odds to our pot equity. If the pot odds are greater than the equity, the price we’re being offered is too great relative to our chance of winning. If, on the other hand, the pot odds are less than our equity, we’re being offered a good price to call. Easy peasy.

In this case, the pot odds (33.7%) is larger than our pot equity (31.6%). Calling would be a mistake.

I is for Implementing:

We need to just quietly muck our hand and hope the other guy shows his hand.


In general, we should fear big turn and river bets in Hold’em. More often than not, the bad guy has what he’s representing with his bet. Remember, folding costs nothing in poker, so mucking a two-pair hand like this is zero EV. Just accept it; you’re probably beat, so fold.

That said, it’s important to note that widening up the villains shoving range would make this a closer decision and, in fact, might push us over the edge into a call. If, for instance, the bad guy didn’t think we were such a bad player, and thought that he could bluff us with a big bet on the river, we’d have to assume a wider range, which in turn would make a call appropriate. Even adding in a few big naked Aces into the villain’s range would tip the PotOdds<->PotEquity scales in favor of a call.

Finally, another key thing to note is our not raising the flop with Aces-up was a big mistake. Flopping two pair in a button-vs.-blind situation is almost always the best hand. By just calling with two pair here, we’re giving the bad guy a chance to improve without paying the piper. For instance if he has a big Ace and then the board pairs or he pairs up, our top-and-bottom two pair can easily be counterfeited. On the flop, we should be re-raising for value + protection.

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