Wednesday, January 02, 2008

What Hands Do They Flat Call With??

Here is a common situation for us lower limit ($30ish and under) tournament players... you pick up a reasonable hand in mid-position, raise it up.... and, erm, well, get flat called.

Have been thinking more about this seemingly simple scenario of late, in the middle game portion of MTTs particularly. Let us temporarily set aside a tricky opponent on the button or a loose big blind and ask the question: What are the most likely hands that opponents flat call with?

Deliberately specified the mid-game here so as to rule out suited connectors (at least the lower end). Instead let us use a process of elimination...

Premiums? Well Aces and Kings surely want to get the money in pre-flop and discourage callers behind, Queens have even more reason to raise - an ace on the flop is an ugly result. Ace-King likewise prefers to be in control.

Mid-Pairs? The most likely candidates. Jacks through 9's may feel they have enough strength to see a flop but not enough to build a big pot - a flop with only 1 overcard (or none) combined with position will usually mean winning a pot after the flop, if there are several calls behind then there is always the possibility of a set.

Lower Pairs? How about 8's and below?? This depends on the stack sizes and blinds really, without some implied odds then flat calling with this type of hand may get expensive. We can not rule out these hands - just less likely than some others.

Unpaired High Cards? A-Q, A-J, K-Q (particularly suited) and maybe even hands like A-10 and K-J suited are all certainly possible, they can not really stand the heat if re-raised and are 'too good' to fold for a single bet.

Other Hands? Higher suited connectors such as J-10 or J-Q are possible candidates, suited aces may also be in the mix (thinking higher kickers A-8s+ here). We can never rule out the possibility of worse - some premeditated attempt to steal the pot on the flop prehaps??

Ok, so we get to thin the list to the most likely candidates... mid pairs and unsuited high cards.

All very well but can this information be used to help our play?? Well, we could start by thinking about the most likely flop to have hit our flat calling opponent's hands... but that seems like another post for another day!

GL at the tables, Mark


SirFWALGMan said...

I think you underestimate the lower tourney players ability to cold call with small pairs. They are the eternal optimists.

Mark said...

Probably right there... hands like A-6 off can seem like monsters in the hands of some... ah well, the likelihood is we will continue to be suprised!

Cheers, Mark