Post Flop Dilemma gone Wrong
I was playing a SNG multi-table and this was late in the tournament, only 7 players left. I was in the small blind with an AJ off suit and I had the second largest stack of chips at the table.
PreFlop had one raise and everyone folded except a player to my right and myself. On the flop we got AJ9 giving me top two pair. The player to my right, who happened to be the chip leader checked with about $8900, I raised to $1800. He paused for about 40 seconds then went All In. I called, all in.
His cards showed K 10 giving him nothing on the flop but opportunity for a straight. On the turn, a Q came out completing his straight and I was gone...
Did I play this wrong?
Thanks for writing to us. There are two answers to your question: one before the cards were turned up, and one after.
When the cards are known
Once the decision was made and the opp shows his cards, you're obviously way ahead.
If you run the hand in our poker odds calculator, you're a 82% favorite to win the hand when the chips go into the middle.
Do you want to get all your money into the pot against the chip leader with 82% chance of doubling up and seven players left in the game?
I'd think so. I'd definitely think so. I don't think anybody is good enough to pass on that kind of opportunities in poker.
Before the cards are shown
Then, on the other hand, before you know his cards, the decision is not that easy. Being check-raised all in by the chip leader is never a comfortable spot to be in.
What could he have? A pair of nines, of course, AA and JJ being less likely because two of each are already used up. If he has 99, the chances are inverted, and you're down to 17%.
On the other hand, would he think for 40 seconds if he flopped a set? Depending on how much lower your stack is than his, maybe. And depending on what he thinks your preflop call in the small blind means, maybe.
Straight draws with QT and T8 are possible, of course, and it's not impossible that he raised preflop with those hands on the button when he was first to act.
Of course, your opponent may be playing a strong ace like AK or AQ, or maybe even AT. A9 is a possibility and maybe lower aces, depending on his style of play.
Here it's important to keep in mind that there are 8 ways for the opponent to have AK, 8 ways to have AQ, 6 ways to have A9, 3 ways to have 99, etc.
Also, we must not forget that he knows you're being challenged for your tournament life, and he can certainly count with a certain "fold equity" on your part.
He may put you on a bluff, or maybe may he thinks you're making a feeler bet with a hand like 88 or KJ, which you would be likely to fold against his all-in. These aspects increase your equity and indicates a call.
So what's the bottom line?
As often, it all cooks down to how you evaluate your opponent's game. Personally I would definitely call his all-in with my top two pair here. After his long consideration, I'd think that he thinks that I'm not very strong.