Poker Hand Scenarios: Ace-Queen Part 1

Daniel Negreanu
Well known dislike for A-Q.

Discussing hand scenarios with knowledgeable poker friends is one of the best ways to advance your level of thinking about the game.

Most of the world's best poker players chalk their success up to doing just that.

For Phil Galfond, it was talking to players thinking at a whole new level that opened up his mind to the game he's made millions with.

Daniel Negreanu and John Juanda spent countless hours talking hands when they were coming up in the poker world.

What do you think Doyle, Sailor and Slim talked about while driving from town to town?

The next time you're with your poker friends, forget about what happened on the season finale of Lost and bring up some situations you've run into where you didn't know what to do or you're not sure what you did was best.

These situations are not always hands you lose; often the hands you win are open to debate on the actual best line.

Since there are endless possible hand scenarios, it seemed to make sense to start with the one hand that gives poker players the most trouble: the infamous A-Q.

Phil Galfond
Galfond: Next-level thinker.

Talking Point: What can you beat?

You're playing an online, six-max $2/$4 No-Limit Hold'em game.

The player in middle position is a solid, tight-aggressive player. When he makes it to showdown, he always seems to have a strong hand.

(In case you don't know, the Hero is always you).

UTG: $425
MP: $440
CO: $300
Hero (BTN): $400.00
SB: $436
BB: $218

Pre Flop: (Pot: $6) Hero is BTN with A Q

1 fold, MP raises to $12, CO folds, Hero re-raises to $30, 2 folds, MP calls $18

Flop: ($66) A J 9 (2 players)

MP checks, Hero bets $45, MP calls $45

Turn: ($156) 2 (2 players)

MP bets $135, Hero ???

Before you continue reading, think for a minute about what you think is the best option here and why it's the best option.

If you don't understand why you're making the play, you're really just guessing.

My answer: This hand scenario is actually rather straight forward: you have to fold.

There's not a single legitimate hand this player can have that you can beat. The only way you can win is if he's bluffing.

Brett Richey
If he's bluffing you, it's a great bluff; let him take it down.

Since we've never seen this player get out of line or bluff (that doesn't mean he isn't bluffing, just that we've never seen proof of it), we have to give far more weight to the possibility he's actually betting for value here.

He raised preflop from mid-position and flat-called our 3-bet. This narrows his range to being a legitimate hand of strength, without being strong enough to warrant a 4-bet (barring a slow-play).

There's not a single hand here you can beat that can make that call preflop and then call the flop. A-J has two pair, and A-K has you out kicked.

The only hope you have of winning this pot is him holding Q-10 and making a semi-bluff at the open-ender.

In short, you're almost certainly beat and drawing very slim. This is a very bad spot to put any more money in. If he's bluffing you, it's a great bluff; let him take it down.

Amateur Mistake

Hero (UTG): $300
MP: $440
CO: $280
BTN: $622

SB: $320.00
BB: $445

Pre Flop: (Pot: $6) Hero is UTG with A Q

Hero raises to $12, MP folds, CO calls $12, BTN calls $12, 2 folds

Flop: ($42) 9 10 J (3 players)

Hero bets $42, CO calls $42, BTN raises to $142, Hero ???

This situation is actually a simple decision, but it's one that gives many amateurs a difficult time.

Your hand looks strong. You have two overcards and an open-ended straight draw. On top of that, if you hit the king, you have the stone cold nuts.

With the action, it's almost certain this is going to end up being a large pot. Many amateurs will count their straight outs and maybe even the overcards, then convince themselves they should call for the pot odds.

Doyle Brunson
Oh A-Q. I just can't quit you.

Unfortunately for these (soon to be broke) players, they failed to go a step further in dissecting this situation.

What hand can possibly raise in this spot?

Chances are you're up against a player with K-Q and you're drawing at three outs.

The best-case scenario here is that you're up against a set or two pair. Even with those hands, you need to draw out and dodge the full house re-draw to win the pot.

This hand is bad for you. Throw it away.

Stay tuned; the second part of this article goes in-depth on one specific scenario which commonly causes great difficulty to beginner poker players.

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