How to fold KK preflop profitably in a cash game--
A leak that I have discovered in my game recently is the decision to call a 3-bet or 4-bet all-in for my stack when holding 140BB+ only to find myself up against AA. These cooler hands have had the effect of decimating my session winnings and causing me to break even or worse after several hours of play. So, after a loss of 200BB in one hand last night, I decided to find out if there is a better way to play KK in this situation preflop. After some research prompted by this great post
, I have arrived at what I believe is a great way to make a profitable call or fold decision preflop. I welcome your thoughts, criticisms, etc. on this line-
Quick note: This post assumes two things- You are playing a NLHE ring game, and your opponent has 3-bet or 4-bet all-in preflop. It's your move- What do you do?
It is my belief that you can make a profitable call or fold every time based on three important factors:
Step One: Assign a range of hands to your opponent.
- Your opponent's range of hands
- Your pot equity versus your opponent's range of hands
- Your pot odds to call his all-in bet preflop
One of the most important player notes you can make in my opinion regards a players range of hands that he will stack with before the flop. During a session, if I ever notice an all-in confrontation preflop I will immediately make a note on both players noting the hand that the player raised or called all-in with. This information is critical to consider when you are holding KK against a 3-bet or 4-bet all-in preflop.
In most cases, a typical deep stack player will not 3-bet all-in before the flop with less than KK. Occasionally, you will find players that have a range including AK and QQ. An exception that can be found often to this is a player employing a shortstack strategy of buying in for 20-40BB, and stacking w/ AK, TT or better. If you're lucky, you'll find a player raising all-in with a large range, which can be very profitable! Typically, I have found these players in shorthanded situations online, and they are holding less than 40BB in their stack. So, here is a conservative
general guideline--This is no substitute for player notes!!
Steps 2 and 3: Calculate your pot equity vs. your opponent's hand range, and the pot odds necessary to call his bet.
- If the player has bought in for 20-40BB, his range will usually be in the neighborhood of AKs, TT+ or AKs, QQ+. I would assume a tighter range the closer to 40BB he is.
- If the player bought in for 40-100BB or is a regular, it is likely that he has KK or better, although you will find AK and QQ occasionally.
- If you have no information to the contrary on a deep stacked player (100BB+), it is better IMO to assume that you are up against at least KK, unless you have a note that widens his range to AK!!. If you are not averse to throwing a stack here and there with KK, then this post is probably not for you.
There are 5 basic situations that I will address for simplicity (all percentages are rounded)
KK vs. AA
- KK vs. AA
- KK vs. AA or KK
- KK vs. AA, KK, AK
- KK vs. AA, KK, AK, QQ
- KK vs. who knows what this donkey has?
If you knew that your opponents hand was exactly AA, would it still be correct to call? The answer depends on your pot odds-
You are 82% to lose in this proposition, and you need roughly 4.5:1 odds to profitably call in this situation. Here are two examples illustrating this concept:
Example 1: (Both players have $100, blinds are $1 and $2, both blinds folded)
Player holds AA and raises to $4 (pot is now $7)
You hold KK and reraise to $12 (pot is now $19)
The Blinds Fold
Player one re-raises all in (pot is now $115)
If you call, you are risking $88 to win $115. You are getting 1.3:1 on the call, and you should fold. (115/88=1.3)
Example 2: (Same hand, different raise sizes)
Player holds AA and raises to $20 (pot is now $23)
You hold KK and reraise to $65 (pot is now $88)
The Blinds Fold
Player re-raises all in (pot is now $168)
If you call, you are risking $35 to win $168. (168/35=4.8) You are getting 4.8:1 on the call, and you can profitably (in the long run) call for your stack here.
KK vs. AA, KK
Here, it gets a little more complex- Here's an example of how to do the calculation. How many possible hands are you up against in this range? There are six ways to make AA here: (s=spades, c=clubs, h=hearts, d=diamonds)
- As Ac
- As Ah
- As Ad
- Ac Ah
- Ac Ad
- Ah Ad
If you are up against KK, then your opponent holds the only two remaining kings in the deck, and there is only one way to make his hand. Thus, you are up against 7 possible hands here. Now, we calculate the equity for all possible combinations, and take the average to make an estimation of your opponent's probability to win (P):
AA vs. KK= 82% favorite
KK vs. KK= 50% (even money)
You need roughly 3.4:1 to make a call profitably against this range.
KK vs. AA, KK, AK-
Your opponent is 53% to win here. You need about 1.1:1 to call. This means you will be calling the majority of the time. Bear in mind if the player is deep stacked, it is very important to have a player note specifying that he raises all-in w/ AK!! If you don't have this note, then you will likely be losing money over time making this assumption.
KK vs. AA, KK, AK, QQ and others-
After you add QQ to the mix, your opponents win rate dips below 50%, and you now have the advantage! You can call happily everytime, and if you bump up against aces, it's a cooler, but you had a note that this player 3-bets or 4-bets all-in w/ QQ+, and you can profitably make the call over time.
After working through all of this information, I have found that I can use this to exploit shortstacking regulars (roaches ) analyzing their hand range based on position, and my equity against them when I hold a premium hand preflop. I hope that this helps you make more profit in your sessions, and again, I welcome any useful critiques you have to offer.
THE END-- Stay tuned for odds against an unknown player-