Under the Gun-Part 2

published on 12/09/06 at 8:59 pm

In the last piece we discussed the subject of playing creatively under the gun. I wanted to utilize this article as a continuation and take the opportunity to expand a bit especially with regard to post flop play.

Example 1
Let’s take a step back for a moment and define our situation. We are under the gun. We have decided to enter the pot from this disadvantageous position with a mediocre hand and play the hand aggressively. We initially fired out a pre-flop raise of 4X the big blind and we got two callers. One from late position, and the big blind. Now we need to begin to assess our situation the same as we would do in any other hand. First, let’s rate the players in the hand with us. Are they loose, aggressive, skilled, novice? Assuming we could identify the competition, our next step is always to try to put them on a particular hand. What type of hands have they shown down before? What type of hand would they simply call a raise, from under the gun, with? This information is more important then our starting hand or the flop itself. The best post flop strategy is to play based on your opponent’s hand, not your own. Being that most flops will miss a player 3 out or 4 times, it is critical to be able to assess rather quickly if that particular flop has improved your opponent’s hand.

Let’s assume for the sake of discussion that you are up against two tight players that have been extremely cautious throughout and usually play solid hands. You would most likely assess that they are playing high suited connectors or high pairs (88-JJ). I usually would not give them credit for K’s or A’s as they would almost always have re-raised in an attempt to isolate one player pre-flop.

The flop is As-Js-6c.

You are playing an 8-9 suited in spades. So you have picked up flush draw. This is potentially a very dangerous flop for you as it may have hit one or even both of your opponents. Conventional wisdom tells us to simply check at the flop and fold to any serious bet, cutting our losses in the hand.

Well, if we wanted to ascribe to conventional wisdom, we would not have chosen to raise from under the gun with 8-9 suited. So let’s get a little creative here. I would put out a small bet of no more than half the pot to see where I stood in the hand. Keep in mind, as important as it is to put your opponent on a hand it is equally important to assess what hand they have put you on. You are the one who raised under the gun. And you have a solid table presence. As far as they are concerned, you are holding a monster. Betting out here also will negate your positional disadvantage in this hand and allow you to gather valuable information.

The big blind checks, you bet out. The player from late position folds (he was playing a AQ of hearts. Even though he hit top pair he quickly realized that there are several other hands that can beat him and the flush draw on the board only increased the danger). The big blind calls.

The turn is a Kd.

The big blind checks. You bet out and big blind immediately comes over the top with a pot sized raise. This was a very bad card for you. The BB could have been playing a variety of hands that have you beat: AK, KK Q10. With one card to come, you are not getting appropriate odds to call and draw to your flush so consider this the appropriate time to fold.

Example 2
Same situation as in example 1. Same two players call. You hand this time is 10-9 suited in hearts.

The Flop is Jd-10s-8h.

This is a pretty good flop for you even though it could pose some danger. For example if a Q was to come on the turn, giving you a straight, it could very easy give a player with AK the nut straight and cost you a lot of chips in the process. The BB leads out with a bet of about half the pot. I would simply call here. Mid pair is good enough to justify the call and the straight draw gives us ample odds to continue in the hand.

The turn is a 7c.

This is the best card you could have gotten. Even though you now have the nuts you do not want to slow play this hand as that can change quickly. Simply be aggressive and take it down now. The BB bets out, you raise the pot, both players fold.

Example 3
Same situation as in example 1. Same two players call. You hand this time is 9-8 suited in hearts.

The Flop is Ad-9c-9s.

You have literally flopped a monster. I would not be in too big a hurry to lead out in this hand as you are almost guaranteed that one, if not both of your opponents have an Ace and will do the bidding for you. The likelihood that you are facing pocket aces is very slim as is the likelihood that one of the other two players in the hand entered the pot with an A-9 so you can assume you have the best hand. The BB checks as do you. The last player to act puts out a bet of 3/4′s the pot. The BB calls. You raise. The original raiser calls the raise and the BB folds.

The Turn is a Kd.

Even though there are two diamonds on the board it is very unlikely your opponent has one as the Ace of diamonds is on the board and we have put your opponent on an Ace. You initiate the betting this time and your opponent raises. There are 4 possible hands that can beat you: AA, KK. A9 K9. We had already ruled out AA, especially since the player did not re-raise pre flop and attempt to isolate a player. A9 and K9 and extremely unlikely from this type of player. KK is likely but would he have called after the flop with an Ace on the board when he was check raised? A tight player, unlikely. What is very likely is that the player is on AK and just hit top two. I would nonetheless, air on the side of caution and simply call the raise.

The River is a 3d.

You put out a value bet with a flush on the board and your opponent calls. He reveals AK of spades and you win the pot.

As you can see from the above examples when you have decided to get aggressive under the gun the aggression will usually continue throughout the hand. Or at least, until such time as you have determined that you are beat and no matter how aggressively you play out the remainder of the hand, you are not going to get your opponents off of their hand.

Keep in mind that, when you ascribe to this type of play, it is necessary to mix it up quite a bit. The beauty of playing aggressive under the gun and winning a pot with a hand like 8-9 is, when you finally pick up Aces and raise out, you are almost guaranteed get paid off.

John “The Greek” Leontakianakos is a professional poker player with 27 years of experience. He is currently in the process of publishing a book on poker and runs his own website called JohnTheGreekPoker.

Be Sociable, Share!

Leave a Reply