Flop JV

Question: You're first to act. What do you do?

Answer: Given that you didn't hit your hand, that's a relatively good flop for you. No flushes, and no obvious straights. You now have to bet to find out where you stand. At a live tournament, you should lead out with a bet of about half the pot. Online, you have to bet a little more to achieve the same effect, perhaps about two-thirds of the pot.

Action: You bet $80. Player H raises to $160. The pot is now $355. What do you do?

Answer: Your opponent has put the question to you, and you must answer. Let's quickly review what we know at this point:

  1. It costs you $80 to call a pot of $355. Your pot odds are about 4.5-to-l.
  2. To improve your hand on the very next turn, you have to catch one of the six remaining aces or kings. You've seen five cards so far, so there are 47 cards you haven't seen. Six of those are good for you, 41 are bad. Your odds against improving on fourth street alone are about 7-to-l against, much worse than your pot odds.
  3. If you don't improve on fourth street, you'll usually face a bet that you won't be able to call. So it's mainly the odds of improving on the next card that you care about, not the odds that you might improve on fourth street and fifth street combined. (Those odds are about 3-to-l against.)
  4. Your opponent might be bluffing.
  5. Your opponent might have flopped a set, so you can't win even if you hit. He might also have a holding like ace-jack or king-jack, which beats you now and negates some of your out cards.

Early in a tournament, and lacking any information on your opponent's style, you should probably assume that the chance he's bluffing roughly cancels out the chances that he has a hand you can't beat, and treat this directly as a pot odds problem. You're not getting the pot odds you need to call, so you're done with the hand.

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