Phil Hellmuth’s Animals: Poker Quiz Answers Explained

Question #1

You are playing a $22 tournament on PokerStars and your stack is down to 15 big blinds. There are 900 players remaining and 500 reach the money.

The action folds to you on the button with 3 3. What’s your play?

  1. Fold
  2. Limp 
  3. Min-raise 
  4. Raise all-in 

Answer: Raise All-In

Folding a hand this strong is out of the question on the button with just 15 big blinds.

Min-raising here is a mistake as well. Raising to this size invites the blinds to call, which you want to avoid with 33 (it doesn’t play very well postflop with short stacks). Also, you’ll be in an annoying spot when one of the blinds 3-bet shoves and you are forced to call with a hand that is likely a coin flip to win.

Limping would be an okay option if we had a slightly deeper stack, but with 15 big blinds, you’re better off maximizing fold equity by shoving all-in.

The money bubble is hardly a consideration in this hand. You simply aren’t close enough to the bubble to fold this hand. If the money was, say, 100 or fewer players away, folding this hand would be reasonable.

Question #2

You are in your local casino playing a $1/$2 cash game. The action folds to the cutoff who raises to $7. You’re on the button. Which hand would you 3-bet most often?

  1. A♠ 8♣ 
  2. A J♠
  3. A♣ Q 
  4. I would never 3-bet any of these hands 

Answer: A♣ Q

A8o is simply far too weak to 3-bet here. It should be folded.

While 3-betting AJo is a marginal but likely +EV play, AQo is a mandatory 3-bet given that you get calls from a lot of worse hands.

Question #3

You are playing a $300 tournament at the Aria in Las Vegas. It is the very first hand of the tournament, the starting stack is 150 big blinds, and there are no antes in play. What’s the worst pocket pair you would raise with from UTG (9-handed)?

  1. 22 or 33 
  2. 44 or 55 
  3. 66 or 77
  4. 88 
  5. None. I would limp some of all of these hands.

Answer: 44 or 55

You have to play fairly tight from UTG in tournaments, especially pre-ante. Opening too many hands leaves you vulnerable to 3-bets with so many opponents still left to act.

In a tough tournament, folding 55 and 44 from UTG is probably a good idea. But in a $300 live tournament, in which there will be many weak players who rarely 3-bet, you can get away with raising 44 and 55 as well.

If you play a few orbits and realize the table is very soft, you can start raising 55 and 44 as well. If the table is extremely soft, you can even get away with open-limping

Question #4

$0.25/$0.50 Online Cash Game. $50 Effective Stacks.

You are dealt A♠ Q in the cutoff
You raise to $1.25. Only BB calls.

Flop ($2.75): Q♠ 5 2♠
BB checks. You bet $1.75. BB calls.

Turn ($6.25) 8
BB checks. You bet $4.75. BB calls.

River ($15.75) 2
BB checks. You…?

What’s your play?

  1. Check 
  2. Bet small
  3. Bet large

This is a slam-dunk value bet. The BB can have a queen with a worse kicker, which will likely call another bet after so many draws missed. The BB can also have a hand like 5x or 8x of spades, which he may decide to call with. 

Betting on the larger side is the best decision considering the board texture.

Side note: An overbet would have been more appropriate on the turn on such a dynamic board — something like $9.

Question #5

The money bubble just burst in a $1,500 WSOP event. You are playing 9-handed with antes and your stack is 30 big blinds (bb).

You raise to 2.5bb on the button and the small blind (an aggressive pro) 3-bets to 8bb. Which hand would you consider 4-bet shoving?

  1. A♠ T
  2. 4♠ 4
  3. T♣ 9♣ 
  4. A♠ T♦ and 4♠ 4
  5. All of the above
  6. None of the above 

Answer: B

4-bet shoving 4♠ 4 and other pairs is very profitable in this situation. The small blind will be forced to fold all of his 3-bet bluffs, which have a lot of equity versus your hand. When the small blind does call, you will be flipping most of the time.

When 4-bet shoving, you want to focus most on your hand’s equity when called rather than its blocker effects. [A♠], has great blockers — making it less likely the small blind holds AA, AK, AQ, or TT — but is in terrible shape when called.

You shouldn’t want to call with too many hands versus a 3-bet for such a large portion of your stack, but T9s is the perfect candidate. You should call and take a flop in position with this one.

Question #6

$0.50/$1.00 Online Cash Game. $100 Effective Stacks.

You are dealt A♠ 2♠ on the button
Cutoff raises to $2.5. You…?

What’s your play?

  1. Fold 
  2. Call 
  3. 3-Bet 

Folding a hand this strong versus a cutoff open, especially in position, is unacceptably tight.

Calling this hand is fine, but 3-betting will usually be the better play. If the blinds are weak players who are unlikely to squeeze, calling becomes

Question #7

You’re playing a $1/$2 cash game online and the action folds to you in the small blind. You have no reads on the big blind.

What best describes your overall strategy?

  1. Limp most of the time 
  2. Raise with a tight range and never limp 
  3. Raise with a tight range and sometimes limp 
  4. Raise with a loose range and never limp 
  5. Raise with a loose range and sometimes limp 

According to the strongest software available for this situation, the best strategy for non-ante, low raked games is a mixed strategy involving limping around 20% and raising around 40% of all hands. This strategy is very closely followed by a raise-only (~40% of all hands) strategy that is far simpler to implement.

The raise-only solution is the correct one for highly raked games.

Question #8

$2/$5 Live Cash Game. $600 Effective Stacks.

You are dealt A J♣ in the big blind
Button raises to $15. You call.

Flop ($32) J 6♥ 2♠
You check. Button bets $20. You call.

Turn ($72) 9♣
You check. Button bets $50. You call.

River ($172) 4
You check. Button bets $150. You…?

  1. Fold 
  2. Call  – Jackal

From a theoretical perspective, your hand represents the top of range which means that folding it would mean to fold around 95% of the time on the river. This would be extremely exploitable and you’d need an extremely good reason to do so.

Raising all-in here as a bluff (or even for value) doesn’t make sense since the button has a very polarized range and you have a merged range. Using this hand as a bluff is completely out of order since it is simply too strong. You can use a hand such as A9 for this purpose.

Note: Most players don’t do it, but this hand is a clear check-raise for value on the flop.

Question #9

What’s the lowest suited connector you would raise from the cutoff in a cash game? (100bb deep, no reads)

  1. 98s or 87s
  2. JTs or T9s
  3. 65s or 54s 
  4. 43s or 32s

According to both mass database research and PokerSnowie, 54s seems to be the lowest suited connector that you could raise and still make a +EV move.

Question #10

$1/$2 Live Cash Game. $500 Effective Stacks.

You are dealt 2♠ 2 on the button
Hijack raises to $7. You call. blinds fold.

Flop ($17) J♠ T 2
Hijack checks. You bet $11. Hijack calls.

Turn ($39) T
Hijack checks. You bet $28. Hijack calls.

River ($95) 9
Hijack checks. You bet $70. Hijack raises to $205. You…?

What’s your play on the river assuming the hijack is an aggressive poker pro?

  1. Fold 
  2. Call 
  3. Raise all-in 

In theory, this hand is a snap call due to it representing the top of your betting range on the river.

If your opponent is a nit who you think will never bluff and never value-raise a flush, you can consider a heroic fold with this hand.

Note: A river overbet would have been more appropriate considering that, by betting, you are saying you can beat a ten (something like $150).