Poker Ramblings of cmitch

Contact Info:

I'm going to try to start posting more interesting hands again. I saved this one from last night because I think it shows that you don't always have to 3 bet a hand like AK out of the blinds.

I think that there are a few of reasons to sometimes just call with AK out of the blinds instead of 3 betting a player with a high steal % (sometimes varies depending on your opponents, stack sizes, # of players in the hand, etc. Obviously, there are times when 3 betting AK pf is the most +EV play):

1. To balance your range. If you just flat call late position raises from the blinds with hands like small/mid pairs and suited connectors and 3 bet your big hands then your range is going to be more predictable to your opponents. A lot of people balance their range by 3 betting oop with some of these type hands, but you can also add some balance by just calling late position raises out of the blinds with big hands.

2. If you 3 bet, most hands that AK beats are going to fold and hands like AA-TT are going to 4 bet you or shove on you and then you are flipping a coin at best. There aren't too many hands that would 4 bet or shove that you are a favorite against. You are going to have to commit a lot of chips and possibly all of your chips.

3. Your hand is disguised. If you flop an Ace of King you may be able to stack your opponent with a weaker Ace or King, especially on a draw heavy board. The hand below is a great example of a hand where my opponent read my hand as a draw and shoved.

4. It allows you to get away with check raising some flops with draws out of the blinds on later hands. Players will have a harder time putting you on a hand when you flat call from the blinds. You can c/r your draws against the aggressive late position raisers and take down a lot of pots or often get a free river card if called.

Full Tilt Poker, $1/$2 NL Hold'em Cash Game, 6 Players - Hand History Converter

UTG: $458.15
MP: $384.45
CO: $200 (pretty aggressive with high steal %)
BTN: $219.35
Hero (SB): $232 (2nd hand at this table, 4 bet the CO all-in with AK on my 1st hand)
BB: $78.90

Pre-Flop: K A dealt to Hero (SB)

2 folds
CO raises to $7
BTN folds
Hero calls $6
BB folds

Flop: ($16) A T 5 (2 Players)

Hero checks
CO bets $8
Hero raises to $22 - I made the raise kind of smallish to hopefully look like a draw.
CO calls $14

Turn: ($60) J (2 Players) - Not the best card in the world for my hand

Hero bets $42 - about 70% of pot
CO raises to $171 and is All-In - In most spots this might be a tough call but my hand looks so much like a draw that I have to call here.
Hero calls $129

River: ($402) 8 (2 Players - 1 is All-In)

Results: $402 Pot ($3 Rake)
CO showed J 9 (a pair of Jacks) and LOST (-$200 NET)
Hero showed K A (a pair of Aces) and WON $399 (+$199 NET)

I know some people will argue that you always need to 3 bet AK from the SB against a CO opener in a 6 max game, but I think that always is probably -EV and more value can be gained by sometimes cold calling with AK out of the blinds.

8 responses to "Sometimes it is OK not to 3 Bet (AK)"

  1. Great example which illustrates your point very well.

    That's a truly awful float by villain on the flop, and it ended up costing him his whole stack. Just awesome.


  2. I agree about your point on calling with bigger hands from the blinds. I can't see the suits of the board so I'm assuming there was a flush draw there.

    Alan aka RecessRampage

  3. Just how much money is it OK to call off with TPTK? He very easily could have had A,J or A,T there given that you didn't test him with a three-bet and he did raise preflop. You did ID him as aggressive and a high steal percentage so that helps but seems like whenever I call off that much with only top pair I'm beat.


  4. Alan - flop is AsTh5h and I have the AhKd.

    Peaker - There are definitely some guys that I would fold against and you highlight the danger of not 3 betting in that spot preflop. The guy was aggressive enough where I have to call the all in re-raise. IMO, you have to take some calculated risks like this in aggressive 6 max games. I hated the turn card but had under represented my hand so much that I think I had to call.


  5. My only beef with calling in that spot is that you've set yourself up for a tough hand played out of position against your opponent.

    What do you do on the flop if Villain pushes (or re-raises to $65+) after your c/r? You haven't defined your hand so you have no way of knowing if you're ahead without a read.

    From a math point of view, I'd think it's better to get more money in pre-flop with AK. 3-bet to $20-$25 and you can safely stack off against most opponents if you hit your hand post-flop. Miss the flop and you can still take a stab at the pot without committing more than 30% of the effective stack.

    However, I'm not a successful $1/$2 NL player. I couldn't read a player if my life depended on it. And I'd probably play AK as shown since I'd be too chicken to re-raise AK OOP with an effective starting stack of 100BB.


  6. Good post.
    The only thing I would add is that you could just as easily make the opposite argument to your points: you want to 3-bet preflop out of position for value to balance your 3-bets with weaker hands, you're happy to take down a smaller pot, you want to define hand ranges, etc.
    So many of these factors are circumstantial.


  7. Gnome - I agree that so much of it is circumstantial and that you need to balance your 3 betting oop range with both big and med hands. The main point I was trying to make is that you also also need to occasionally just call with big because you are sometimes calling with med strength hands.

    Klopzi - Good point, but I was willing to risk it against this guy. Obv, the Jack sucked but I had made up my mind to go with the hand against this particular player. A tighter player might have equaled a fold.

    I guess I should have stressed a little more one of the main factors that played into just calling pf.

    "(2nd hand at this table, 4 bet the CO (same guy) all-in with AK on my 1st hand after he 3 bet a short stack)"


  8. Ah. I like your reasoning, C-Mitch. I tend to play full-ring, lower-limit games ($50 NL). I can definitely see the difference between my games and your higher-limit, 6-max games against an aggressive opponent.