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How to Play King-Jack Offsuit in Cash Games (Preflop & Postflop)

King-Jack offsuit (KJo) is one of those hands that looks super strong to newer players. That’s why Daniel Negreanu calls it “the rookie hand” —  it’s easy to overplay KJo and many players make mistakes with it.

But after reading this article, you will be better prepared to win more (or lose less) money when this hand gets tossed your way.

We will be covering:

  • How to Play King-Jack Offsuit in Common Preflop Situations
  • Playing King-Jack Offsuit When You Miss the Flop
  • 3 Tips for Playing King-Jack Offsuit When You Hit the Flop

Let’s dive in!

How to Play King-Jack Offsuit in Common Preflop Situations

Unopened Pots

King-Jack offsuit is a strong hand when there is no action in front of you. It is in the top 12-13% of starting hands in No Limit Hold’em.

King-Jack offsuit is a profitable open-raise from every position in 6-max, but should be folded from the first three positions (UTG, UTG+1 and UTG+2) in a 9-handed game.

positions for ace queen 3-betting reference

Against a Raise

When faced with an open-raise, KJo drops significantly in value.

If you’re up against an early position raise, your opponent’s range should contain roughly the top 10% of starting hands. If you’re up against a middle position raise, your opponent’s range should be around 21% max. With KJo being at around the 12-13% mark, it is thus:

  • Too weak to call
  • Too weak to 3-bet for value
  • Doesn’t have good enough playability to 3-bet as a semi-bluff (suited hands are way better)

Because of this, you should fold KJo when faced with an early or middle position raise. There is one exception: when you are in the big blind, you should call.

If the player who raised is sitting in the cutoff, button or small blind, however, KJo increases in value greatly. Against these positions, you should usually continue with either a 3-bet or call. The one exception is when you’re in the small blind against a cutoff raise, in which case you should lean towards folding.

(Note that if you’re in the small blind and facing a raise, Upswing Poker suggests playing a 3-bet or fold strategy against all positions. This article explains why.)

Against a 3-Bet

Facing a 3-bet, King-Jack offsuit is a fold the vast majority of the time. It simply doesn’t have enough equity to continue as a profitable call.

You can consider using it as a 4-bet bluff when the 3-bettor has a very wide range. I am talking specifically about playing from the small blind against a big blind 3-bet.

Further reading: What Top Poker Pros Already Know About 4-Betting.

Against a 4-Bet

Facing the 4-bet represents the end of the hand for you when holding King-Jack offsuit. It is always too weak to call and doesn’t have the equity required to profit as a 5-bet bluff shove.

Note: Want to know exactly how to play every hand in every common preflop situation? Get instant access to extensive preflop charts and lessons (for cash games, heads-up and tournaments) when you join the Upswing Lab training course. Lock your seat now!

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The Advanced Solver Ranges for cash games — one of five sets of preflop charts in the Upswing Lab.

3 Tips for Playing When You Hit the Flop with King-Jack

These tips focus on when you flop top pair with 100 big blind stacks.

Tip #1: Always c-bet for value when you flop top pair in heads-up pots

This includes both single-raised pots and 3-bet pots. Regardless of whether your top pair is on a King-high flop or a Jack-high flop, your hand is very strong. Extracting value should be your immediate priority.

Warning: Do not slow-play! You will win smaller pots on average by doing so.

Tip #2: In 3-bet pots as the aggressor, size down your c-bets on King-high flops

Because the pot is already bloated in 3-bet pots, it’s very easy to get all of the money in by the river. This is true even if you start off with a very small c-bet on the flop (such as 33% pot). Furthermore, King-high flops are extremely favorable for your range as the preflop 3-bettor, further incentivizing a small size.

C-betting too large will make your opponent’s life very easy — he can simply continue with strong hands and fold all marginal ones. You’re better off challenging the marginal hands in his range with a small size, which also gives you a better price when bluffing.

Tip #3: Proceed cautiously with top pair in multiway pots!

Top pair with KJo is still pretty great on the flop in a multiway pot, but there is a significant equity drop-off compared to a heads-up pot. It gets even worse if three or more players reach the turn after calling your flop bet. Your kicker is very strong in a heads-up scenario, but multiway, it shrivels up quite a bit.

This happens because the burden of defense is dispersed to more than just one player, which means your opponents are forced to play tighter versus your bet on the flop. Thus, when they do call, they have significantly stronger ranges than if it were a heads-up pot.

A small c-bet on the flop is oftentimes appropriate, especially on dry boards. But prepare to slow down if the board gets dicey on the turn. If even a flop c-bet feels a bit dicey, start with a check and go from there.

3 Tips for Playing When You Miss the Flop With King-Jack

Tip #1: Bet when the flop is dry and disconnected and you are in position with two overcards

Example: You raise with K♠ J and get called by the Big Blind. The flop is T 8 3♠.

When in position as the preflop aggressor on a board that doesn’t have a made straight possible, you should fire a continuation bet almost always.

With six outs to hit top pair, your hand will have enough equity to make it a profitable semi-bluff. If you do hit top pair on the turn, you can comfortably triple barrel for value in most situations.

Tip #2: When defending out of position, you should sometimes call with two overcards

Example: You call preflop with K J from the big blind against a button open-raise. The flop is T♠ 8 3. You check and your opponent bets small.

If the following three factors are at play, you can profitably call on the flop with King-Jack high:

In these scenarios, you have at least a break-even check-call (or check-raise) because you have 6 outs to top pair, which may even dominate some of the top pairs that your opponent will hit. You also have a chance to improve to a strong draw on the turn, with which you can check-raise bluff (or continue bluffing if you check-raised on the flop).

Tip #3: When the board is connected and you have nothing, it’s best to fold.

Example: You raise preflop with K J and get two callers. The flop comes 9♠ 7♠ 6.

This is one of the things that beginners get wrong — they get married to their hand because it was strong preflop. You, on the other hand, are working on your game and won’t make that mistake.

Don’t feel like you need to win every pot just because you had a solid hand on the previous street! Sometimes you just gotta give it up and move on to the next hand.

Final Thoughts

You now have the blueprint to play KJo like a pro whenever you get dealt it.

That’s all for this article. As usual, if you have any questions please leave them in the comment section down below!

Want to read another starting hand guide? Check out How to Play Pocket Eights in Cash Games (Preflop & Postflop).

Till’ next time, good luck, grinders!

Note: Ready to join 6,000+ players currently upgrading their No Limit Hold’em skills? Crush your competition with the expert strategies you will learn inside the Upswing Lab training course. Learn more now!banner: take your poker skills to the next level with the lab

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