A NL hand post-mortem

Wherein Our Hero attempts to add a no-limit game to his cash game poker repertoire

Sat down at a 1-1 NL table at Bally’s ($50-$150 buy-in, $2 to call the $1 blind preflop) with $100 I won at Jacks or Better, and was felted on the first hand I played, around two orbits in. Here’s how it went down.

A loose-aggressive player opened for $10 in middle position. $10 is his standard open, which is mathematically insane at a 1-1 table, but as he typically got a few calls this isn’t a bad plan in this case. A loose caller to my right calls. I’m in the cutoff seat and peek to see AKo in the hole.

I’ve got just under $100; the raiser has $330 and has me stacked. He’s also talked loudly about locking in the $300 and playing with the rest.

My decision process: can I fold? Hell no.

Should I raise? Hell yes. I raise to $30. He calls, everyone else folds.

Flop comes AQT two-suited and he checks to me. I’ve got him on anything from a middle pair to a crappy Ace, and the main thing I’m worried about is that he’s hit his kicker for two pair.

I go to bet, and I’m reminded why I hate no limit. There’s $70 in the pot. My normal bet of $35 leaves me pot-committed; I can’t fold to a check-raise because a) he’s aggressive; b) it’s a heavy drawing board, and c) he might think his A-x is good. So I bet the pot and go all-in.

He flips over K-J and takes it with the straight.

Post-mortem:

Should I have raised to something other than $30? My mistake here is that I didn’t think about it—I forgot my observation about his calling cap. Raise to $40 and there’s a chance that he folds preflop, especially with KJo. On the other hand, as it went down I got my money in good, and he called as a 3-1 dog.

Should I have called preflop? The mistake here is that I didn’t consider it. In retrospect, this was my last chance to control the size of the pot; after my raise, I’m going all-in on a favorable flop, and that hadn’t quite occurred to me.

Again on the other hand, calling here would given me top-pair, top-kicker on a draw-heavy board against two undefined opponents. As it stands, I’m kicking myself for giving myself no chance to get away from a cooler; with a call, I’d be kicking myself for not defining the flop better.

So I’m thinking I played this right, except for one real problem: I’m forced to go all-in on the flop, but I’m only getting called if I’m beat. I don’t see a way around this with a short stack, but instinctively I feel like this isn’t the way to play a cash game.

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