The UTG player makes it $10 in a NL 1/2 game and everybody folds to you, on the button and you have QhJh. What should you do?
Well, of course, it depends. It depends on a couple of things. What is the range of hands the UTG player would be making that raise with? How likely is it that the UTG player has a big pair that he'll fall in love with? How deep is the money?
The deeper the money, and the more likely he is to fall in love with his hand, the more likely you should be to call. It's harder to quantify that than the effects of the range of hands he might have though. So, let's just look at what's easy to look at, his range of hands, and use Poker Stove to try to map out a general approach.
1. If he's a very tight player and you can put him on QQ+ or AKs then he's pretty far ahead. He has over 78% equity against a QJs.
In this case you're going so far uphill that even with very deep money and an opponent who's very likely to fall in love with his hand it's probably not worth trying to climb that hill. Just give it up.
2. But most UTG openers won't have that tight an opening range. Even most fairly tight players might have AJs, or AQo, or even 99. Looking at that range his equity against QJs is only about 69%. He's still pretty far ahead, but not so much that you might want to take a shot if the money is deep and he's the type to fall in love with a hand. The money does need to be pretty deep though. Probably an extra $200, which isn't always available in todays capped buyin 1/2 games. And just deep money isn't enough, he also needs to be a stubborn type who won't give up the hand when he's clearly beat.
3. How about a more typical player? One who will come in with KQo and pairs as low as about 77 and even suited connectors down to JTs? How does your QJs look against that range? In that case his equity has dropped to about 63% and you're not in such bad shape. Now the money doesn't need to be as deep, maybe $100 left in the stacks is enough, and he doesn't have to be 100% stubborn, just a good chance he'll fall in love with his hands is probably good enough, you don't need to be sure of it.
4. There are players who are even looser. They'll come in UTG with that raise with hands like KJo, or even 76s or KTs. Against a player like that you're in pretty good shape, he's about a 60/40 favorite. Stack sizes as small as $60 or so is probably enough.
The main thing to learn from this short analysis is that you aren't ahead with QJs against an UTG raise, even with your positional advantage you're going to be starting out behind. You're going to need fairly strong implied odds to justify a call even against some of the loosest early raises. Most of the time you're probably better off just passing.
Labels: position, when to call