Take advantage of opponent giveaways
You can take advantage of weak, straightforward players who telegraph the strength of their hands with their bet sizes, and this hand from a $1-$2 no-limit cash game is a good example of how to do it.
A player in middle position limped, as did the player in the cutoff seat. Our Hero raised to $12 from the button with Js 10s.
I’m fine with raising from the button with suited connectors, but calling and raising larger, perhaps to $16, are also reasonable options. Calling keeps the pot small, often amplifying your postflop advantage (assuming you play well), while raising larger allows you to frequently pick up pots preflop. A bet in the $8-$12 range will rarely win the pot preflop, so you often have to flop well to have a good chance to win.
Only the cutoff called Hero’s raise, and two players saw a flop of As Qd 8s, which gave Hero a flush draw and double-gutshot straight draw. The cutoff bet $10 into a pot of $27.
This is where the player in the cutoff seat telegraphed his hand. When someone leads on a board that should be excellent for the preflop raiser’s range, they usually have some sort of marginal made hand or junky draw. Hero’s hand made it less likely that his opponent had a draw. More likely, the player in the cutoff seat had a weak ace and was betting to “find out where it stands.”
If you think your opponent will fold an ace to a flop raise, then raising large, perhaps to $50, has a lot of merit. If you think your opponent will never fold top pair, calling makes more sense. That said, when you have a premium draw, taking the aggressive route is rarely wrong, because even when your opponent calls, you’ll still win the pot about half the time.
Hero called. The turn was the 10c, giving hero a pair. Both players checked.
With his opponent’s check on the turn, Hero should assume his middle pair is not good (although it will be from time to time when he is up against a junky flush draw like 7s 6s). The real question is whether the opponent will fold an ace to turn and river bets. In my experience, he usually will, as long as you bet large enough. But if you think your opponent plans to call down once he checks the turn, semi-bluffing makes little sense.
The river was the Qd. The opponent bet $15 into a pot of $47.
At this point, it was highly unlikely that Hero had the best hand, but could he fool his foe? The opponent almost certainly had an ace or queen. Later on, Hero mentioned that he’d seen his opponent bet small on the river twice with marginal value hands and large on the river once with the nuts. This made Hero think his opponent was much more likely to have an ace than a queen. Hero raised to $60. I definitely like raising the river more than calling. When you lose to all the marginal made hands in your opponent’s range, calling makes no sense. Hero’s only option is to raise or fold. I like Hero’s bet of $60, a substantial amount that had a reasonable chance to induce a fold if the opponent didn’t have a queen.
The opponent grumbled for a minute about how lucky Hero was to catch a queen on the river before folding A-2 face-up.