Protecting Your Hand

You have K-K. A jackal raises before the flop, you then make it t hree bets (reraise), a nd an elephant behind you calls the three bets "cold" (without having any money already invested in the pot). The j ackal then calls the one additional bet.

The flop comes 10-9-2 and the j ackal bets, you raise, and the elephant calls the two bets. The j ackal a lso calls two bets. The turn card comes up a 2, for 10-9-2-2, and now the j ackal b ets out into you. At t his point you should be thinking, "Raise it!" But you're distracted by the conversation going on across the table, and you j ust call the bet. Now, the elephant calls the bet a s weH.

This i s a most costly mistake, since you've now let the elephant c all o nly one bet with his A-9, and the l ast c ard off i s an A, for 10-9-2-2-A. Now the j ackal c hecks and you decide to check as well, because you fear the A may have hit the elephant. Then the elephant bets and the j ackal calls, and you call as weH. The elephant then says, " I have two pair, aces up." You think, " Man, am I unlucky, I cannot believe that he hit an ace on me here!" Wrong! You misplayed this hand! All you had to do was raise after the two came up on fourth street, and the elephant would have been forced to throw his hand away! Your call on the end might also fall i nto the mistake category (even though I've said you should generally not be folding on the end), because the one card you had l egitimate reason to fear, the ace, hit t he board, a nd a bet and a call were already in front of you.

Let's r ewrite the script, then, so you're making the obvious raise on fourth street. A deuce comes off the deck for 10-9-2-2, and the j ackal b ets out i nto you. You don't really t hink the j ackal has a deuce, s o you raise and the elephant reluctantly folds his hand. The j ackal c alls your r aise. The river card is an ace, for 10-9-2-2-A, and the j ackal checks. You conclude t hat the j ackal has a pair of tens, s o you bet out, a nd then the j ackal calls you. You say, " Pocket kings for me" and the j ackal says, " Nice hand." You then pile all t he chips onto your s tack as t he elephant l oudly complains, " Darn it, I would have made aces and nines if I 'd stayed in, b ut I c ouldn't call, b ecause your r aise on fourth street t old me you had me beaten!" You j ust s mile and finish stacking t he chips, thinking, ' ' Looks as though I played that hand perfectly!"

This first example is about "protecting your hand" with a raise on fourth street. If you fail t o do that, you give your opponents a chance to outdraw you for j ust one bet. The next example is another f airly obvious play, b ut i n the other direction—folding!

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