When the Last Card Is Bad for Your Hand

Let's assume t hat you have put i n a l ot o f bets with your Q-Q (pocket queens), that two opponents have called, a nd that the board has developed V- V - Vo the turn. Let's consider two scenarios.

In the first s cenario, both opponents have j ust called you on s*

fourth street and now the last c ard is V , for a final board of^

3-[[-JJ Your first opponent then bets out i nto you, and now it's your turn to act, with your other opponent waiting behind you. Wow, what a n awful c ard J was for y our hand! You can't beat anyone who is holding either a nine ( he now has trips, or three of a kind) or two clubs ( he now has a flush), and either of those is a hand pretty likely to have withstood your heavy raising on the lop. A nine would have given him top pair on the lop, a nd the flop presented a flush draw

I might lean toward folding here for the first bet ( I would fold to a mouse, but not t o a j ackal), but let's assume that you call and now the opponent behind you raises and the other opponent calls. I n this situation you can be almost certain you are beat. Judging from the fact t hat t hey have bet i nto you, r aised you, a nd then called the raise, y ou can suppose t hey pretty much know your hand! ( By the way, my guess here is that they both have your Q-Q beat.) Yikes, you had better fold, e ven though the pot odds are huge. The point is that you need to be very concerned when someone r aises on the r iver! Ironically, the great s ize of the pot ( which so powerfully entices you to call) demonstrates that they almost certainly have you beat, because they wiil have assumed you would call them with such a large pot staring you in the face. In very-high-stakes games, this i sn't always going to be true, but when you're starting out, you aren't g oing to be seeing very many bluff raises on the river.

Let's assume now that __ comes off on the river, for a final board of V - ^ and that the first opponent bets out into you. The s econd opponent is sitting behind you, waiting for you to act. This card is bad for you, because it completes the lush draws, but not nearly as bad as the JJ we looked at i n the preceding example, because it doesn't give trips to those folks who may have started with top pair. Here, you have t o call your first opponent. But if the second opponent r aises, then you have to fold, regardless of whether t he first opponent called the s econd opponent's raise or not. It's j ust too hard for the second opponent t o bluff here. What's he going to do, r aise hoping t hat both of y ou wiil fold?

In general, when you aren't s ure whether or not to call o ne bet o n the river, then call. The pot odds support a whole lot of calling on the river, because in the long run you don't often have to be too successful in picking off a bluff for this call t o prove profitable! Generally, though, I would fold my hand on the river f or two bets, since r arely do you see someone making it two bets to go on the river on a bluff. Of c ourse, if your i nstincts s ay fold, or call, or raise on the river, and you've begun to trust your instincts, then follow them!

So, before the flop in limit Hold'em, play only the top ten hands, and make sure that you play them very aggressively. On the flop, remember to raise to find out "where you're at" so that you can make the right moves l ater on in the hand or possibly win a pot t hrough your aggressive play that o thers wouldn't have won. On fourth street make sure that you protect your hand, or fold it, depending on what you learned on the lop, what card came off, and the way the betting came down. On the river, l ook to call down your opponents because of the pot-odds principle, but b e leery of calling two bets on the r iver.

You've now learned enough to win money playing poker in most s mall-stakes games. Remember, though, that it may take a long time to digest all t he information I've given you so far. Before you rush on out and play, k eep i n mind that you need to learn to walk before you can fly. You're not r eady to play with Junior's graduation money j ust yet.

Chapter 4

Chapter 4

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