A question from the poker pages quiz: Two players limped in, you have a 7-5 off-suit in the small blind, and you decide to call. The big blind then raises. What is your play? Calling the half bet was marginally acceptable, but calling a full raise with a 7-5 does not give you the pot odds to justify a call. There’s a lot of assumptions in this question that don’t get clearly stated. First is that the other two players call the raise. Sometimes they don’t. A raise from the big lind from a competent player has to be respected. Second, there’s no information about the blind structure. If the blinds are 5 and 10, the pot odds should be equal (7:1.) If they’re 10 and 15, the pot odds for calling a raise (7:1) are *much* worse than finishing up the blind (10:1.) OTOH, if they’re 5 and 15, the odds for calling a raise (still 7:1) are actually better than those for calling in the SB (5:1.) Of course, if I did play 57o in the small blind, I would generally muck to a raise in the big blind unless I know I’m dealing with a total maniac. A good player will often check in the big blind with hands as good as QQ. In this case, two of your three competitors are almost certainly going to stay in. By checking, you get to see the flop cheaply and, if you still have an over pair or better after the flop (a 77% probability, about 3:1,) you can disguise the strength of your hand. So, I fold, but not because of pot odds.
The first assumption about the other two limpers calling the raise from the big blind is normally valid. It would be rare for someone to limp in for a full bet and then not call a raise from behind. It is true that the big blind is marked with a good hand but it is not that much different than if you limped in under the gun with say pocket Eights and then the next guy raises and everyone folds to you. Of course you will call the early position raise and take a flop for one more bet. There is information about the blind structure but not in the question rather in the answer. McEvoy is apparently assuming that the small blind is one-half a bet, like a $10-$20 game rather than 2/3 of a bet as in a $15-$30 game or 1/3 of a bet as in a $3-$6 game. Your observation about the pot odds are of course valid since they are exactly the same when the small blind is 1/2 a bet. In a $15-$30 game it is common to see a player limp in for another $5 from his small blind and then fold when the big blind raises. Pot odds can come into play here. Frankly, I would fold 7-5 off-suit from my small blind and not even call for 1/2 of a bet. Make it suited and I would call and then call a big blind raise if I had to.
I’ve been playing limit hold’em for about 9 years now, and I can honestly say I’ve NEVER folded 7-5 off-suit in the small blind for 1/2 a bet. Also, I’ve never called with it, and then folded to a raise from the big blind. I find it impossible to resist 7-1 odds pre-flop with a 7-5. Try using Mike Caro’s poker probe, and you may be surprised how often that hand will win against two limpers and a big blind. 7-1 is certainly an overlay. I ran 7-5 against some possible limipng hands and a random big blind 50,000 times. I used 9s-10d, Js-Kh, 5c-7d and a random hand. Now, you would be getting 7-1 so 14.3% would be break even without considering your disadvantage of being first to act. How often do you think the 7- 5 won?
- The K-J won %36.66
- The 9-10won %24.50
- The 5-7 won %20.25
- The ?? won %18.59
Now try running it with the big blind holding two aces, you’ll be
surprised what you may find.
- The A-A won %57.34
- The 5-7 won %17.10
- the 9-10won %14.47
- the K-J won %11.09
Next time you get 7-5 in the SB, think twice about how tight you may be playing, and gamble a little!!
That is certainly good information and I guess I have been playing a little too tight here. I suppose even if you made the hands a little stronger like giving one limper pocket Eights, another limper King-Queen off-suit, and maybe the big blind AA,KK,QQ, or AK you might still get the same results since the cards needed to improve 7-5 are not impacted that much by the other hands. I am not familiar with poker probe and what the underlying assumptions are. Does it reflect how the hand is likely to get played or does it just assume that 7-5 gets to see all the board cards at no cost? In actual play it is easy to get away from the hand when the flop misses you completely and of course if you flop a good draw, two pair, trips, a straight, etc. it is also easy to play. But I have found that what frequently happens is that you catch a piece of flop like bottom pair or middle pair so the pot is large but your outs are few and you tend to not get full value from the hand when you have the best of it and you frequently lose a lot when you get lured into staying and taking cards off.