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Pocket Jacks on the River on a Queen-High Board: Fold, Call or Raise?

Pocket Jacks on the River on a Queen-High Board: Fold, Call or Raise?

DECISION POINT: In a $2/$5 no-limit hold'em cash game, it folds to you in middle position with {j-Diamonds}{j-Spades} and you raise. The cutoff calls, the button and small blind fold, and the big blind calls.

The flop comes {q-Clubs}{8-Hearts}{6-Diamonds}. The big blind checks and you bet. The cutoff folds and the big blind calls. The turn is the {3-Hearts}. The big blind checks again, and you check behind.

The river is the {3-Spades}. This time the big blind bets. Action is on you...

PRO ANSWER: In this hand we raised preflop with {j-Diamonds}{j-Spades} and got two callers, then we decided to continuation bet on the flop. After getting called on the flop by the player in the big blind, we chose to check behind on the turn. On the river, our opponent bets into us. Should we fold, call or raise?

Generally speaking, most one-pair hands that you take to showdown after multiple postflop streets of betting should be top pair or better. Occasionally, one-pair hands worse than top pair can have showdown value.

In this case, we are getting approximately 3-to-1 pot odds, which means our {j-Diamonds}{j-Spades} must have around 25 percent or more equity for calling to show a profit. In other words, do we believe we can beat around 25 percent or more of the hands with which our opponent will take this line? If we do, then calling would be profitable.

Our opponent will often take this line with many {q-}{x-} hands, with some strong made hands like sets or two pair, and occasionally with a missed straight draw. There are far more combinations of {q-}{x-} hands and other stronger made hands than there are missed draws. We likely have the best hand only around 15 percent of the time or less. Therefore calling is not profitable.

Since much of our opponent's range consists of one-pair hands, turning our {j-Diamonds}{j-Spades} into a bluff and raising could be profitable. However, it's difficult for us to represent a big hand credibly on this river after checking behind on the turn.

The best default option in this scenario is simply to fold our {j-Diamonds}{j-Spades}.

Folding is the best play.

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  • You have J-J and there's a queen on the board. Your opponent bets the river. What now? Ask @LearnWPT.

  • How would you play J-J vs. a river bet with a Q on the board? @LearnWPT breaks down the situation.

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