Squeezing with A-Ko

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I wasn’t involved in this hand but was interested in the decisions taken by the other players, especially since a huge pot was played out. We are playing 8-handed with blinds of 60-120 and no ante. The effective stack size for the play in this hand is approximately 85BB.

UTG opens for 300 and gets called by the button. The small blind, holding – as it turns out – A-K squeezes to 1,020. I am really not sure about this play, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, A-Ko will be hard to play postflop in a multi-way pot, especially out of position. Secondly, the sizing seems very awkward since he is offering UTG and button quite tempting odds to call with speculative hands. He will then only get action postflop when he is in a bad way. With A-Ko, my preferred play would be to simply call and take a flop. If he does want to squeeze then I’d prefer a bigger sizing, probably around 1,350. Now the Villains have to commit 10 percent of their stack if they want to take a flop with a speculative hand. They would barely have the right odds to try and flop a set (with pair holdings) and suited connectors would also be unlikely to be getting reasonable odds. When the small blind made this “modest” sized squeeze I put him on a very premium hand – basically A-A and K-K.

UTG thinks for a while but eventually calls, holding 10-9. The call costs him 720 chips from a stack of 10,061. This represents about 7 percent of his stack and, to me, this seems just about okay. Any less seems a fairly comfortable call, whereas more – as mentioned above – is probably too much. The button also calls for news about bonuses.

The pot is 3,180, and the flop comes J-K-9. The small blind now c-bets 1,468, which is slightly less than half pot. I don’t like this bet at all. With A-K here, I would definitely be looking to check-call this flop. Even with A-A I wouldn’t be thrilled about the flop and would again be looking to check-call. UTG, who has picked up massive equity with a flush draw, gutshot and a pair, now calls fairly quickly. I am not sure if raising/shoving would be a better play. If I had A-A (or the A-K he actually has) in the small blind’s seat and faced a shove on this flop I would always fold since I would assume that I was either completely crushed or facing a hand that had a big draw with probably around 50 percent equity when called. Even if UTG runs into K-K for top set (which is obviously never folding), he still has very decent equity in the pot. Furthermore, with a king on the flop, A-A is now much more likely than K-K since there are six possible combinations of A-A and only three of K-K. Shoving looks stronger to me. It possibly disguises his hand better as well. When he called here, I thought a flush draw must be a huge part of his range. With such a large pot I thought it was unlikely he would “slowplay” a strong hand such as a set or straight.

The button also calls – a play I find extremely odd. I can’t imagine what hand he could have that would invest 1,500 chips to see the turn card rather than shoving or folding. Maybe 10-8s for an open-ended straight draw but, facing a bet and a call, I’d fold, since the two spades on the flop mean that this hand has very few clean nut outs.

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