Thursday, September 6, 2012

Hand Chart Construction, Part 6: Non-Ace Broadways

In this installment I tackle the remaining non-Ace Broadway cards, also known as "Trouble Hands":

King-Queen. Also known as: Romeo and Juliet, Marriage, King of Queens, and Lucy and Ricky.
  • Hand Type: Semi-bluffing connector.
  • Position: I will play KQs from EP, but I KQo only from MP+. 
  • Stack Sizes: When stacks are shallow, look for flopping TPGK. When stacks are deeper, do not assume your top pair is good if you get action; instead, treat KQ as a drawing hand, looking for two pair plus.
  • Table Dynamics: At a LAg table, KQ can often pay off if you play passively. At a tight table, you can and should treat this hand as a semi-bluff hand, but be more than willing to toss it if a TAg gives you action.
  • Upstream Action: Unless the effective stacks are very deep and/or the villain is very LAggy, KQo can rarely take a raise, even IP. KQs can frequently take a raise, but you need to proceed cautiously.
  • How to Play:  KQ is a dangerous hand that many beginners get married to. It's stronger than a traditional "trap hand" but it's often crushed if you're getting resistance. I suggest you play it strong preflop, but be very cautious postflop.
King-Jack. Kojack, King-John, Tucson Monster.
  • Hand Type: Semi-bluffing "trouble" one-gap connector.
  • Position: I play KJs from early-MP, but won't touch KJo until late-MP.
  • Stack Sizes: Only consider getting it in with KJ if your opponent is very short-stacked, and even then think twice. Deep stack play with KJ is extremely dangerous unless you flop a monster.
  • Table Dynamics: TAg and/or LAg tables with this hand are equally difficult. Remember, it's a trouble hand.
  • Upstream Action: ABC poker says to just fold this hand to any upstream aggro action.
  • How to Play:  KJ is the epitome of the so-called "trouble" or "trap" hand. It looks much, much stronger than it actually is, and if you get to showdown on an action board with this hand, you're rarely going to be good with just top pair. Open-raise in LP, don't call raises or RR's unless there's a damn good reason to do so.
King-Ten. Katie, Big Al.
  • Hand Type: Weak semi-bluffing "trouble" double-gap connector.
  • Position: I only play this hand in LP unsuited, but I will play in in MP when suited.
  • Stack Sizes: Like KJ, this hand is very vulnerable when stacks are deep. And if a pro-shorty shoves on you, just fold. Only get it in PF against the worst players who are extremely short-stacked.
  • Table Dynamics: Like KJ, this is trouble regardless of table dynamics.
  • Upstream Action: Fold to any upstream raise.
  • How to Play:  This hand actually gets people into less trouble than KJ, primarily because it doesn't look as strong; i.e., most players are able to realize this hand is trouble from the start and get away from it. When you get this hand, just ask yourself a) what kind of flop do you want to see; and b) how likely is that flop. More often than not, you're going to just fold it.
Queen-Jack. Maverick, Pinochle.
  • Hand Type: Semi-bluffing connector.
  • Position: I play QJs from MP, and QJo in LP in unraised pots.
  • Stack Sizes: I actually like deeper stacks with this hand than shallow ones, as it can turn into a bust'em hand quite easily if you flop a straight.
  • Table Dynamics: A passive table is ideal for playing this type of hand. Aggressive tables, however, warrant this one to be tossed unless you're super deep.
  • Upstream Action: Unless there are excellent implied odds, toss this hand in the muck if there is any upstream action.
  • How to Play:  I actually prefer QJ to KT, even though it's a 40:60 dog preflop heads up  against Katie. The reason is that it's easier to throw this one away if you get heat post-flop. It also makes straights more frequently than KT. Like all trap hands, play this one cautiously. Treat it as a drawing hand preflop and then fit-or-fold postflop if there is any action you're facing.
Queen-Ten. Quint, Cutie, Varkonyi.
  • Hand Type: Very weak one gap connector.
  • Position: I'll play suited QTs in MP, but only play QTo in LP. 
  • Stack Sizes: Like QJ, this one is actually best suited to deeper stack play, but you absolutely cannot get married to it post-flop, too. 
  • Table Dynamics: Passive tables are best, where you can see cheap flops and take down pots with cbets against weak players.
  • Upstream Action: Unless there are excellent implied odds, fold this hand to any upstream action.
  • How to Play:  This is the weakest of the trouble hands. You need to train your brain to inwardly wince when you're dealt a Varkonyi. In other words, play it super, super cautiously.
Jack-Ten. Justin-Timberlake.
  • Hand Type: Moderate connector with semi-bluffing power.
  • Position: I play JTs from MP, and JTo from LP.
  • Stack Sizes: As a drawing hand, this one likes deep stacks.
  • Table Dynamics: Passive tables are ideal, action tables not so much.
  • Upstream Action: This is all about implied odds more than anything. Be cautious and make sure the IOs are there to get involved when facing upstream action.
  • How to Play:  This used to be my favorite hand, but now I realize just how weak it is by itself. On the other hand, JT has a lot of power as a drawing hand; if you make a straight, and the board doesn't contain one of your cards, you will have the best possible straight. Treat it cautiously like the drawing hand it is, with a fit-or-fold post-flop approach, and you can't really go too wrong.
Okay, and now here's the corresponding part of the starting hand chart for these non-Ace Broadways (click on the image to enlarge if needed):

All-in for now...

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