When the Pots Get

When the pots get big, this fact should dominate your approach to playing the hand. Large pots create tricky situations from the flop on. Basically your number one priority is to win it. Not to win more money, but to win the pot. However, winning the pot is not that simple. It isn't just a matter of thinking "I have the best hand, therefore I bet." It might be better to check in order to get someone in late position to bet so that you can check-raise. It might be better to bet hoping someone else will raise. And, it might be better to set this up on the previous round.

For instance, suppose you have two kings or two queens in the big blind. The player under the gun raises, and six people call. Our preferred way to play this hand is to not reraise, and then when the flop comes to bet out, unless it includes an ace. You should come out betting enlisting the original preflop raiser to be your unwitting partner to knock people out.

For example, if the flop is

instead of reraising (before the flop) and giving your hand away, and then betting on the flop where most of your opponents will now correctly call you, you should just call (before the flop) and give up a little preflop equity in order to bet on the flop and have the original raiser on your left knock out all those people who were getting the proper price to chase.

It's so important to increase your chance to win the pot that it can be right to bet a hand that you know is beat. For instance, if you have

the flop comes

A ♦

•fr * *

V

*

*

and the pot is pretty big, it is almost mandatory to bet if you are in early position. You do this not only because you might make a straight, but because it is important to get hands like or out. You would bet even if you knew that someone had a six or a seven in their hand and was going to call you all the way. If a nine or a ten comes on the river you want to maximize your chance of winning. (You should be even more inclined to bet if you have a backdoor flush draw as well.)

This is something that very few players are aware of. In other words, your bet adds some possible ways of winning because when you bet, hands like K>JV and K4T^ will fold. The general concept is that if an ace comes and you have the upper end of a gut shot you should usually bet to prevent over cards to your cards from coming, even though they are under cards to the top card, and to fold out someone who shares one of your cards but has a higher kicker.

You must understand that there is a difference between winning a pot 11 percent of the time and 14 percent of the time. This may sound like no big deal, but it can often swing a fold to a play. 11 percent means an 8-to-l shot. 14 percent means a 6-to-l shot. Getting back to the above example, what's the chance that a ten or a nine will come in that spot? You have 6 chances twice which is about 25 percent, and if you bet out as we recommend you will win a decent proportion of those times when you make a pair, whereas before it wouldn't have won.

You also have about a 15 percent chance to make your gut shot. So you go from as little as 15 percent to probably over 20 percent because you bet that T9 and knock out these type of hands.

Similar advice applies for a pair (except small pocket pairs). If you are first, the pot is large, and you have a pair, you usually should bet it even if you knew that you were beat. You are not trying to win it right there. If the pot is big enough and you know that you are going to call anyway, you have to bet it. You do this not just because there is a slight chance that you might win if you bet, but also because betting gets out those hands that will cost you the pot a small percentage of the time when your hand improves. Remember, you were going to call anyway.

This means a lot when the pot is big. The point is that when a lot of bets are in the center of the table you don't worry about saving bets. You do everything possible to maximize your chance of winning.

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