How to Play Top Pair in a Three-Bet Pot

How to Play Top Pair in a Three-Bet Pot

Today I'm reviewing a hand from a $1,000 buy-in World Series of Poker event, one presenting a somewhat common, not-so-simple situation — flopping top pair in three-bet pot and then facing significant aggression from the preflop reraiser.

With the blinds 100/200 with a 25 ante, I opened to 500 from early position with {q-Spades}{10-Spades}. I had about 24,000 to begin the hand. It folded around to a tight-aggressive player in the big blind who had about 8,700 to start, and he reraised fairly small to 1,450.

I called the three-bet, the flop came {10-Diamonds}{3-Clubs}{2-Diamonds} to give me top pair, and my opponent bet 1,400 (almost half-pot).

The question for me here is whether to call or raise. As I discuss in the video below, my opponent had about 36 big blinds behind, so I also was thinking about whether or not to raise all in (or to raise small and then call should my opponent shove).

I chose just to call, bringing the pot to 6,000, and the turn was the {4-Diamonds}. My opponent then pushed all in for 7,150, and I had a decision to make.

I'll stop there and let you look at how things played out. Listen to my thought process as I contemplated whether or not to call my opponent's turn shove.

How would you have played this spot? Would you have folded or called the shove?

Sometimes top pair can be the nuts, but other times it can be a junky, marginal hand. Make sure you don't consistently overvalue or undervalue your marginal hands.

Jonathan Little is a professional poker player and author with over $6,900,000 in live tournament earnings. He writes a weekly educational blog and hosts a podcast at JonathanLittlePoker.com. Sign up to learn poker from Jonathan for free at PokerCoaching.com. You can follow him on Twitter @JonathanLittle.

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  • With top pair on the turn, @JonathanLittle faces an all-in shove. Call or fold? Take a look & decide.

  • In a three-bet pot, @JonathanLittle flops top pair but faces aggression from the preflop reraiser.

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