This hand came up in the $10,000 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure main event. As usual, I had been playing my standard, fairly loose, aggressive game, which consists of raising a lot of hands preflop and making numerous stabs postflop. There also was a young Brazilian guy across the table from me who happened to be very loose and aggressive. We had tangled a little, with me getting the best of him twice (he bet twice and I called down with middle pair both times), when this hand came up.
He raised from the cutoff to 600 out of his 40,000 chip stack and I, also with 40,000 chips, reraised to 1,600 from the small blind with –. My standard raise in this spot would be slightly larger but I thought the small reraise may induce a re-reraise with a weak hand, as my opponent was overly aggressive. Much to my dismay, he just called.
The flop came ––. I decided to check, as betting will usually put me in tricky spots if he calls or raises. The problem with checking is you make your hand look weak, which it is. In general, you want your hand to look the opposite of what it actually is. In this situation, though, I thought Q-Q easily could be the best hand, as long as I made it look like 5-5 or something like that, as he could easily try to bluff me off small pairs. He bet 2,500 and I called.
Some people may see an A-A-x board with a hand such as Q-Q and instantly go into check-fold mode. You basically should never be looking to get away from a spot like this for one or even multiple bets against an aggressive opponent because his range is very wide, especially when he just calls my reraise preflop. His range for calling my preflop bet is probably something like J-J through 2-2, A-K through A-2, K-Q through K-10, and numerous connectors and one-gappers, such as 8-6. Against this range, most of which I expect him to bet on the flop, I am in great shape, as I now lose to the hands with an ace. Also, he probably would re-reraise the worse A-x hands, as those usually play fairly poor postflop.
The turn brought the 5H. I checked and he bet 5,000. At this point, I am still not too concerned with him having me beat, as I think his range for betting the turn is probably only slightly smaller than his range for betting the flop. Notice though, if instead of this loose-aggressive player, I was playing against a tight-passive player, I would instantly fold the turn with very little thought at all, as their range for betting twice in this situation is probably something like an ace or better. Though the hand was starting to look a bit grim, I called.
The river was the . I checked and my opponent bet 12,000. At this point, the pot had around 18,000 in it, so this certainly looked and felt like a value bet, which should make this a rather simple fold under most circumstances. The problem was he had shown a willingness to fire multiple times at me, plus, I thought he was smart enough to size his bluffs and value bets around the same size, meaning bet-sizing probably doesn’t mean too much in this situation. After thinking for a while, I decided to call and he turned up A-K.
Though I lost this hand, it goes to show you how important it is to stay aggressive. If my opponent were a tighter or more passive player, he would have won a much smaller pot, as I would have folded my Q-Q in a heartbeat to his continued turn aggression. By keeping the pedal to the metal, he induced me to call down with any sort of made hand, which won him a pile of my chips.
Looking back at this hand makes me think about how I constantly do the same thing to my opponents. Usually, I will fire one or two bets on every hand, but when I bring out the third, much larger bet on the river, I usually have a monster. Because of this, I should have at least considered folding on the river. I still think my opponent would have bluffed the river if he happened to have air, so I don’t really regret my call, though it may have been negative-EV in the long run. This is one of those spots in poker where it’s tough to figure out your expectation as well as the correct play.
— Jonathan Little is the Season 6 WPT Player of the Year and is a representative for Blue Shark Optics. If you want to learn to play a loose-aggressive style, which will constantly propel you to the top of the leaderboards, check out his poker training website at FloatTheTurn.com.