Jonathan Little Hand of a Week – Combating an Aggressive Player
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The topic of today’s hand review will be how to handle a very aggressive player at your table, combined with some tips on how to play monotone flops.
Our hero in the hand is Rosey, a young but experienced player who finds himself in a $2/5 No Limit Hold’em game in Texas with J♠J♥.
Rosey opens the action to $20, and his open is met with a 3-bet to $70 from an active player in the small blind.
Given the history and the fact pocket jacks are a fairly strong hand anyways, Rosey goes for a 4-bet of $175, and the SB makes the call.
From the purely GTO point of view, playing about 150 big blinds deep, you don’t want to be doing too much 4-betting in position.
The range of hands to 4-bet with in this scenario is very narrow and includes pocket aces and kings, ace-king suited, AK-off and AQ at a lower frequency, and, rarely, some small suited aces.
Even though the opponent has been 3-betting us a lot, we don’t know what that means for his 4-bet shoving range, and we most likely will have to call it off if he jams. It’s just a situation we’d rather avoid with pocket jacks and playing in position.
The board comes all spades – K♠7♠4♠. The opponent checks, and Rosey, after giving it some thought, decides to check back.
I’d like you to take a moment here and think about what you’d do in this situation, just with the information you have so far.
I think this is a situation where you should be betting at a high frequency and using a small sizing. Our range contains a lot of kings, a lot of hands with A♠, and even some made flushes.
It doesn’t make much sense to bet big here, as with value hands (like nut flushes), we’ll want to keep the opponent in the pot, and we aren’t exactly ecstatic to get check-raised all-in with hands containing a lone pair of kings.
That said, if we bet small (like $80) and the opponent decides to raise, we can never fold with a hand containing a decent pair and a solid flush draw, as is the case here. We are just playing for all the money.
The 5♣ rolls off on the turn, and the small blind now leads out for $150. Rosey makes the call, as he should.
In fact, I’m very happy to make the call in this spot.
We have a hand that can easily call a turn bet and, in fact, call a river bet as well, against a player who’s been 3-betting us a lot.
Their range will contain many hands that we are ahead of, like lone A♠ and thin value bets with lower pocket pairs.
So, against an opponent who is on an aggressive side, this is a good spot to be in.
The final card is not a very good one for the hero, as it comes Q♣. This means the opponent will now be ahead with hands containing a queen (be it a queen of spades with a random ace or a random queen with the ace of spades).
The small blind checks and the question is – do we ever move all in here as a bluff?
They are never folding a king, but they are also probably betting the king for value. So, if we bet for the remaining $425 into the $655 pot, is this enough to get them off a queen?
Betting here makes sense if you are very sure that the opponent will never have a king or better in this spot, and you believe they’ll fold a queen often enough or call you down with a hand worse than pocket jacks. But I don’t think that’s a very frequent scenario against most players.
So, all in all, it’s a perfectly fine spot to just check it back and take your showdown value. Is this what Rosey does, or does he take a more creative line? Check out the video above to find out!
Jonathan Little is a two-time WPT champion with more than $7 million in live tournament winnings and best-selling author of multiple poker strategy books. If you want to learn from the best and increase your edge at the tables, make sure to get your FREE 3-day pass and check his training site at pokercoaching.com