Watch Your Ace Crack
Consider the following hand:
Poker Stars
No Limit Holdem Ring game
Blinds: $1/$2
5 players

Stack sizes:
UTG: $79.65
CO: $110.20
Button: $210.85
Bill Sparks: $78
BB: $36.40

Pre-flop: (5 players) Bill Sparks is SB with
UTG calls, 2 folds, Bill Sparks raises to $6, BB folds, UTG raises to $10, Bill Sparks calls.

Flop: ($22, 2 players)
Bill Sparks checks, UTG bets $10, Bill Sparks raises to $25, UTG raises to $40, Bill Sparks raises to $55, UTG calls.

Turn: ($132, 2 players)
Bill Sparks checks, UTG is all-in $14.65, Bill Sparks calls all-in $13.
Uncalled bets: $1.65 returned to UTG.

River: ($158, 0 player + 2 all-in - Main pot: $158)

Final pot: $158
Bill Sparks showed
UTG mucks

The preflop line: "UTG, limp-reraise" often arms your opponents with a lot of information about your hand. Very few players make this play with a hand other than pocket Aces or Kings. Knowing that your opponents will easily be able to determine your hand when you make this play, you want to maximize the value of it. The way to do that is to only make the play in a longhanded game (9 players or more) that is playing very loose where there is usually a large pre-flop raise and at least two callers and where your image won't stall the action with a "suspicious" limp.

When you make the re-raise, your goal should be to take down the pot right there or to give your opponents bad odds to try and outflop you. This line is a defensive play, you want to prevent your opponents from taking a flop where they know your hand and they know you will have a hard time laying it down when they hit theirs. You also want the opportunity to re-raise and pick-up dead money instead of being the initial raiser that everyone will call and then being out of position throughout the hand.

Against a single opponent your re-raise amount should force him to put in 1/7th the size of the pot + the shorter stack. In the hand above the pot was 8$ and I was the shorter stack with 72$ behind. So, (72 + 8) / 7 = ~12, which means the UTG player needed to re-raise to at least 18$. This makes my EV for flopping a set negative. I will only flop a set 1 in 8.5 times so whithout getting 7.5 to 1 implied odds on my money I must lay down any pocket pair. Failing to lay down my pocket pair to this kind of bet will result in a long term loss and my opponent can confidently push all-in on any flop with his Aces knowing that the play will be profitable for him over the long run.

Against multiple opponents, I believe you should simply re-raise all-in with your aces from UTG. You don't want to mess around here. You have the best hand and you should pick up the dead money while you have the chance.

It is very odd that my opponent did not push all in on the flop here after my second re-raise, especially since he was willing to do so after the turn paired the Jack on board. I honestly believed that was a terrible turn card for me because it should have frozen my opponent. If he felt committed he should have gone all the way on the flop.

I should have probably lead into the raiser here on the flop for a half-pot bet. There is no need to slow play when you know you will get paid off. In fact, I would say it is correct to almost never slow play your big hands. You will make more money in the long term since people expect you to slow play and will often read your aggression as a sign of fear and weakness.



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