January 2, 2021 Poker Strategy, Poker News Lars Liedtke

Poker Hand of the Week – How overplaying middle pair can turn into a disaster

Poker Hand of the Week Setup

Our Poker Hand of the Week comes from the latest Poker After Dark episode, where overplaying middle pair proved very costly for cash game pro Damien LeForbes vs. Poker After Dark regular Justin Young.  

This hand was played at the latest episode of Poker After Dark Season 12 Cry Me a River.  The lineup of Week 1 is a mix of poker pros such as Antonio Esfandiari, Ben Lamb and Justin Young and businessmen and amateurs like Alex Ding, Scott Ball, Andrew Sasson and Damien LeForbes

The game in question is NL $300/$600 6-max with straddle and a minimum buy-in of $40,000.

Poker Hand of the Week – How quickly overplaying middle pair can turn into a desaster

Both players are relatively deep with effective stack sizes at the start of the hand being 100 big blinds and Justin Young has Damien LeForbes covered.

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Poker Hand of the Week Action

Preflop Action:

Alex Ding straddles to $1,200 and Damien LeForbes open-raises from the button with A♥8♣ to $3,500.

Justin Young calls from the big blind with A♦10♥, Alex Ding defends his straddle with Q♥3♥ and we go 3-handed to the flop. Pot Size: $11,800


The flop of 5♠10♦8♥ is very interesting as the preflop aggressor LeForbes flops middle pair top kicker, while Justin Young has him crushed with top pair top kicker.

Justin and Alex check and Damien makes a continuation bet of $5,300 into $11,800. When the action comes back to Young he quickly check-raises to $15,000. Ding folds, but LeForbes calls having less than pot behind. Pot Size: $41,400.


The 7♦ turn completes a couple of straight draws, but Young quickly puts LeForbes All-in after asking how much he has behind and getting the answer $37,000.

LeForbes only has middle pair on a very draw-heavy board with several draws, straights and two pair combinations out there. Nevertheless, he calls and sees that he is in really bad shape as he only has two outs with Justin blocking the ace. Pot Size: $116,400


The two-outer doesn’t come on the J♣ river and a sizeable $116,400 Pot goes to Justin Young.

Poker Hand of the Week Analysis

This hand is a great example, why overplaying middle pair can quickly turn into a disaster and be very pricey.

Preflop is relatively standard as A8o is a raise from the button in 6-max.  Justin Young could have 3-bet here as ATo is ahead of LeForbes button opening range, but calling is fine as well.

The 5♠10♦8♥ rainbow flop is perfect for Young as he has top top and also has somewhat underrepped his hand by only calling LeForbes button open preflop. That means his top pair top kicker is well-disguised.

In addition to that, the flop is decent for Damien, holding middle pair top kicker, so a continuation is in place. I really like the check-raise from Young on the flop for several reasons: Firstly his top pair top kicker is well-disguised and secondly he also nicely plays the player as Damien LeForbes had played a lot of hands and proven to be call-heavy and sticky before.

LeForbes calls and now has a stack-to-pot ratio (SPR) of only 0.89, which means that he has less than pot size behind before the turn.

The 7♦ on the turn does complete some straight draws such as J9, 96 and 64. Justin quickly puts Damien All-in. LeForbes can’t beat much at this point except for 97 or 76 for an open-ender plus pair, but those are the only two combos he has beat and even against those hands he is a mere 70% favourite.

Against all other hands like top pairs, two pair or straight he is way behind, making this a pretty clear fold. LeForbes might felt that he is pot-committed here having more than half his stack invested before the pot, but this is simply not the case given the fact that he needs to be ahead in 45% of the cases to make this call profitable.

I constructed Justin Young’s range consisting of top pair, two pair, sets and pair and open-ender and as you can see below, Damien only has 32% equity, while he needed at least 45% to get the right pot odds, making this a pretty clear fold on the turn.


Watch the Poker Hand of the Week here:

Poker Hand of the Week – How quickly overplaying middle pair can turn into a desaster

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