Poker Hand Scenarios: Ace-Queen Part 2

Mike Caro

Wrapping up a two-parter on playing ace-queen, in this part we'll focus on one difficult A-Q scenario that can cause a lot of beginners to make expensive mistakes.

Catch up with Part 1 here.

The scenario:

Sticking with a $2/$4 No-Limit six-max game, your opponent in this hand is aggressive and loose but without a history of getting out of line.

His hands always have some sort of value. He's not making bad bluffs or donk bets, but he has showed down some unlikely hands. In short: a very tricky but strong player.

You've been playing a very strong, tight-aggressive game. You've only showed down legitimate hands and have never been caught getting out of line.

You've also been on a slight cold run of cards and have been folding for a while now, further enforcing your tight image.

$2/$4 No-Limit Hold'em - six players

UTG: $92
MP: $440
CO: $280
BTN: $122
Hero (SB): $320.00
BB: $445

Pre Flop: (Pot: $6) Hero is SB with A Q
2 folds, CO calls $4, BTN folds, Hero calls $2, BB calls $2

Flop: ($12) Q Q K (3 players)
Hero checks, BB checks, CO bets $10, Hero Calls $10, BB Folds

Turn: ($32) 7 (2 players)
Hero checks, CO bets $25, Hero raises to $60, CO calls $35

River: ($152) 8 (2 players)


What do you do?

Bet? If so, how much? Check? What are you hoping he does? If you check and he bets, do you call, raise or fold?

Again, you have to use the information you have to figure out what you think is best. You also need to understand the reasoning behind why you think that.

My answer: After getting a general feel for your opponent, the most important information to look at is the betting pattern.

Preflop: The CO didn't raise. We can't be certain, but we can reasonably assume he doesn't have KK or AA. He can hold almost anything else in his range.

The Flop: The CO has position in this hand, and the flop came very wet. This is commonly thought of as a "hit or miss" flop.

Patrik Antonius
Hold yourself back. Take the time to think before you act.

Unless someone has a Q (hit), they pretty much have to fold a miss to any bet made into the pot. For this reason, the $10 bet doesn't really give us any information. He might have a legitimate hand, or it could simply be a steal attempt.

The Turn: Now that the big blind has folded, we're heads up. We check again, and the CO bets again.

For this player, this bet still doesn't mean all that much; we've shown no real strength and he could be putting us on a weak king - a hand he can make us fold.

When we check-raise, we've basically just turned our hand face up. He can now be almost certain that we have a Q.

We didn't raise in the small blind, so he can't be completely sure we have an ace as a kicker. But he can make a pretty strong guess.

His call after being check-raised is a very interesting action. He didn't three-bet us, but he also didn't fold. If we believe that he knows we have a queen, what can he possibly call with?

He's either setting up a massive river bluff, thinks we're bluffing, has a full house, or has a queen and thinks his kicker might be good.

So now what do we do?

The only hand we're really worried about is K-Q. There are other hands that have a full house to beat us, but they're unlikely. It's not impossible that he hit a house with pocket sevens on the turn, but if that's the case, good for him.

  • If he thinks we're bluffing and we check, he'll check behind us, or just call any bet we make.
  • If he has a full house, he'll bet or raise any bet we make.
  • If he has a queen, he checks behind or just calls us to see if his kicker is good.
  • If he thinks we have a queen with a weak kicker, he might try to bluff. This is unlikely, simply because many players are unable to fold a hand like this.

Barry Greenstein
Just what you want: an ace on the river.

Because we're only worried about K-Q, and we can put JJ, TT, Q-J, Q-10, Q-9, A-K and K-J into his range here (some more likely than others), we have to assume we currently have the best hand.

In my opinion we should be making a value bet here, and one large enough it discourages a raise from anything but a full house.

I'd bet $100-$150. If he does push, chances are you should fold. If you bet $130 on the river, you've committed $204, leaving you with $116.

You'll be getting just under 5-1 on your money to make the call. There is almost no chance a player as good as him would ever make a bluff with such a low chance of success.

Unless he believes you to be a weak-tight player willing to fold just about anything, the 5-1 odds plus knowing you have a Q makes this a very bad spot for a bluff.

Only a boat can push on you here. Value bet and take the pot, or value bet and fold to a shove.

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