Thursday, 23 April 2009

Is it ever right to fold KK pre flop?

Apart from the obvious scenario of being medium to high stacked in the WSOP and playing the bubble, I think there are spots where it’s right to fold. I’ve done it twice, and been slated by my mates for one of them, but I’m standing my ground and can say at the time I thought it was the ‘right’ decision.

1st occasion
About 2 years ago when I first started playing cash tables, I was a nit. A proper 12/9 nit. I only raised with big hands, and I think everyone I played with on the crypto network at the NL25 games knew this. Therefore when an under the gun (UTG) raiser opened, was min raised by mid position and I RAISED from BB, it meant I was strong. When the initial UTG raiser shoved for 80BB and the min raiser insta shoved for 120BB – who I both covered – I thought it was pretty much a given that one or both had aces, so I turbo mucked my kings talking a small loss of 11BB. Sure enough it was KK UTG and AA min raiser, so I felt fully vindicated in my read and actions.

2nd occasion
This is the one that I got all the stick for, and I must admit I was a complete pussy, but I’m kind of pleased I did it. It was a live deep stack tournament (12k chips, BB of 50), first orbit, and I pick up KK in mid position. UTG opens to 300 and I call, looking to slow play. 2 more callers behind and then button repops to 2k. UTG folds and I think for a bit then fold, along with the other limpers leaving the button to take it down uncontested. Naturally he doesn’t show.

In retrospect I did play this hand terribly, but I did have some mitigating factors. The tournament was the Caribbean Poker Classic 18 months ago, a $6k buy in, and as a small stakes grinder (fish) / local casino tournament my previous largest buy in had been the £20 rebuy at Grosvenor and the £25 freeze out Xmas special at Soapy’s house – needless to say I was a bit nervous! I’d won my place in the Caribbean by winning an 80 man weekly freeroll and then won in to the main event by playing a live satellite ($660 tokens provided in to a $220 rebuy game), which finished at 4 am the night before the main event. I then stayed awake through adrenaline until 6, and got up at 10 to register and start at 11 am. The KK hand came at 11:10 ish, so along with everything else, my brain hadn’t quite woken up yet either…

If I were to play the hand again now, I’d obviously reraise the UTG open and play straight up from there. If the button 4bets me on the first orbit, he’s pretty much telling me he has AA, KK (v unlikely) or if he’s ultra loose QQ. Even with QQ though I think he’d slow down against an unknown and just cold call, as he would with AK. I could then call the raise looking to spike a K to break his obvious aces, or cbet any low flop if he flat calls.

As I played it though, I think I have to fold when button reraises me. I could have called and look to hit the king, but if a low flop came and he did have aces then I was likely to lose a much bigger portion of my stack – if not all. Could I get away from this on a 552 flop? Or a T63 board? Very hard. If I bet out, he’ll raise with all of his hands as he figures I’ll be weak to not reraise pre flop – forcing me to a decision for my tournament life on my 5th hand- something I don’t want to do. If the flop comes down QT9, I have overpair and gutshot, but he’ll also be betting strong QQ, AA and TT – all hands he’s likely to squeeze with. I don’t think I like the reraise much either. If I reraise the squeeze I’d need to make it about 5k to even have a chance to get him to fold – which would be telling him I have an absolute monster. If he pushes, do I fold ‘knowing’ he has aces, therefore losing over 1/3rd of my stack without seeing a flop? If he calls – what does that mean? I guess it would more likely be QQ than AA but could I completely rule out slow played AA or even a fishing AK?

As it turned out, I folded, then proceeded not to win a hand in the next 6 hours, never seeing a hand bigger than JJ which I correctly folded after raising and being 3 and 4 bet pre flop. I stole one hand with 56s from SB when I pushed versus BB and he folded, but then lost a coin flip of AK vs 77 to be knocked out in 90th of 180 runners. I think the experience of those 7 hours though, playing with some really good players and hearing their poker and life stories – they travel so much – really made me want to go poker pro. Although I’m a long way off of that, this motivation made me read a tonne of poker articles and watch 100’s of videos so I’m now a million miles better than I was in the Caribbean. Just hoping that one day I’ll get to play a big tournament again and play the hand a bit better…..

Anyway – why did I choose today to write up about this now? Well last night I think should have been the 3rd time I folded pre flop with KK, however I could not bring myself to do it. I raised UTG and was then 3bet all in for his entire stack of 110BB. I only had 95BB at the time and as I was 6 tabling I thought for a milli second but then just clicked all in out of instinct. When I looked up at his stats though on Holdem Manager, he was a 23/0 with an Aggression Factor of 0 and a 3bet of 0 having played 170 hands. These stats were available for me to see via the Heads Up Display when I made the decision, so I should really have taken the time to look and the decision I came to may have been different. He proceeded to duly flipped over AA and scooped the pot after I failed to improve.

Luckily I ran OK on my other tables and recorded a £220 win for the night, halving Tuesday nights disaster. K is away at an AC/DC concert tonight so I’ll be logging a gazillion hands after 5 a side football, hopefully staying in profit for the month!


  1. Never ever ever ever ever ever

  2. Brennan waits for a Q high flop in an STT before folding ;)


  3. I'm sure that it is almost never right to fold KK preflop if you are 100BB deep. The likelyhood of AA is slim plus even if the villain has it you will win better than one time in five anyway

  4. Brenos / Pud

    I agree with you on the most part, and would never fold KK vs a TAG or LAG regular as we always seem to be shipping in with AK too, but think occasion 1 is a clear fold the way it played out. The one a couple of days ago is probably a call, but due to his rediculously tight stats he's probably only going to be making this big a raise with the nuts.

  5. I came close to folding KK in cash game today, whole table limped to me in BB with KK. I raise to 12xBB, UTG snap shoves for 100BB. He is super tight never raises a hand. Anyway I call and he of course has AA.

    I made note of it for later, still dunno if i can fold.