Question and some poker strategy advice...

This is an email from another friend of mine... when did I become principal of poker school.? I'd welcome some differing insight, as I'm sure there are probably other ways to look at this

So another hand I was going to tell you about from my last cash session and one I felt like I was playing well and playing poorly within the hand, street by street. Guy in the 8 seat just won a few nice pots and is racking his chips but he's still technically at the table, even though he is standing up. He gets two cards from early position, maybe even UTG and raises to 12 after barely looking at them.

From the 2 seat, I look at AJ off and make the call. The BB shoves all in for roughly 35 total. 8 seat calls, I call. Nice little pot developing and we're now heads up for a side pot. Flop comes out A high and 8 seat leads out with a pretty big bet, maybe 50 or 55. I stew and come to the conclusion that he has hit the ace and is trying to push me out of the pot and get heads up with the short stack. I call.

Turn is a blank. I forget what the action was here but I think he led for a very small, very suspicious amount. Either that or he might have check-raised me all in. I don't remember exactly, but it was here that I all of the sudden felt like I had misplayed my hand or was being severely outplayed. At some point, he set me all in and I folded. He had flopped a set of 6s and was basically stringing me along with my ace, perfect scenario for a set with the ace on board. Do you think I should have gotten out of dodge on the flop, figuring along the lines of why would he bet into a dry side pot if he was bluffing or had a bad ace?

Or do you think my call on the flop was technically correct, even though it turned out to be off? Plus, remember that this guy has basically already checked out of the table before getting involved in this pot on his way out the door. That is what made me finally come to my senses and realize that I was in no way good and led to my fold, after donking off about a hundo plus to him. I think the short stack had a bad ace, fyi.

As for calling the flop? That's the problem with AJ, you probably have to call there every time.

But let's go back a step, UTG or UTG +1 raised? Your mistake was calling preflop.

AJ o/s from UTG or early position is a losing poker hand, AJ from mid position facing a raise is a losing hand too. Oddly, you got into a coin-flip with position and hit your hand. Let's ignore the particulars for now, let's just focus on hand selection.

What's wrong with the hand? Most of the time somebody after you is going to call as well and you will be oop the whole time. Do you even want to hit your ace? Be careful what you wish for you might get it. If you do ou might be outkicked or you might have him outkicked but you'll never know where you are in the hand. Even if you do have him outkicked preflop he could easily pair his second card and have you crushed, plus he'll be acting after you on every street. Plus, most people raising under the gun have hands that have you beat to start.

To make it even more of a loser, since you can fold AJ to the type of betting you faced, you'll also be able to fold it to worse hands like A9 or A8 thus you'll also lose pots you should win too.

It's a mistake I make, but long run it's a loser for both of us. I can tell you why I'd make it. In live poker you have the information that this guy is leaving, and when I think the guy is leaving I think he might play any adequate to marginal hand before the blinds hit him. In online poker you wouldn't have that information and you'd be better off because of it.

So, you have a lot of those weak exploratory aces crushed. You are crushed by AQ, AK, KK, AA, QQ, JJ. You are coinflip with almost anything else and if he's a bad player and KJ is in his range or worse QJ from UTG you crush those holdings. It's a tantalizing situation because he's leaving the poker table but we need better discipline to lay that down.

Here's why I'd probably get out of the hand (and this is important for you in the tournament too), stack size. In a Texas Hold 'Em cash game, if I'm mulling over the AJ from mid position and I see the BB with 1/3rd more than the pot if I call (maybe see if he's going to play or not... if he's an obvious read) in his stack, I have to conclude this a good spot for him to shove with almost any two cards. Do I want to play a hand for 35 against two players holding AJ o/s and the betting isn't closed? No. There's 105 already in the pot and I start getting married to a lot of holdings that could be losers.

Now if I'm in a tournament, sometimes I might reraise it for exactly the reason of the BB's stack size (I'd bet more than the short stack in the BB) putting the squeeze on the ep raiser. I win a couple of ways. Take down the pot right there. Much harder to call off your chips than shove them for the BB. Or the BB shoves and first position might fold. Then I'm playing a weaker BB hand with the bonus of the EP's raise.

A raise also might deter any marginal hands from gettting into a multi-way pot, or from them trying this squeeze play themself when my passive chips as added motivation. The table dynamic would be really important for me to make a play like that and it's probably not one I'd often make but if I did it and got called, I'd probably try and pot control from there. Another motivation to do it, is I get to mislead the table into thinking I'm 3betting with hands like AJ (when in reality my 3bet range is actually really thin).


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