Playing Pocket Nines Versus a Three-Bet
DECISION POINT: In a $1/$3 no-limit hold'em cash game, you raise from under the gun with . The player to your direct left three-bets and it folds around back to you. Action is on you...
PRO ANSWER: You raise from UTG in a full-ring live $1/$3 NL cash game and the player next to act reraises you. What do you do with ?
In a full-ring no-limit hold'em cash game, the range of hands that a player should open raise with from UTG should be fairly narrow. When an unknown player in early position three-bets the UTG raiser, you can assume that player has a big hand — i.e., QQ+, AK+ — by default, since most opponents in a live $1/$3 cash game would reraise only with big hands in these positions.
If our opponent only holds pairs queens or higher or ace-king, we are a significant underdog versus that range with pocket nines. We are not getting the right price to call for set value, so we should fold. Stacks would need to be much deeper in order to justify calling for set value.
Generally, you should not invest more than about 7 percent of the effective stack preflop when only playing for set value. In this case, the call of $35 more represents more than 10 percent of the effective stack.
Our estimate of our opponent's hand range dramatically affects the ideal play with in this hand. Against an unknown opponent in a live $1/$3 cash game, this is a fold by default.
Against opponents who reraise with many more hands, we may be able to continue with our nines. However, with early position reraises in a full ring game, we must be capable of folding good pairs preflop.
Folding is the best play.
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