When you have a great hand

If you have the nuts, and it's not possible that somebody has the same hand but is drawing, put in a lot of bets (at least four or five) before stopping. For instance, if you have

and the flop comes you can put five or six bets. However, if you had A*-J* instead of A your opponent could have the big straight and a diamond draw as well. If so, he's "free rolling" on you. Now you have to stop at about four bets and hope that no diamonds show up.

If you have a great hand but don't have the nuts, then you have to back off earlier. You're not going to fold the hand (even on the turn and river because the pot has gotten huge). However, you need to consider the possibility that you're beaten. Suppose you have

and the flop comes




If you get into a raising war with two or more opponents, don't be afraid to put in the last raise. However, if you are heads up, and your opponent keeps raising, at some point you have to worry about pocket jacks. After four or five bets, back off and then check and call through the river. If your opponent checks, bet. Note that many players will play JT or 55 as strongly as you would play JJ, so you may still be winning, but you don't want to put in too many raises without the nuts.

Now, suppose you have the guaranteed nuts. Perhaps you have Aa-T* and the flop is J*-8a-4a. You get into a raising war with a single opponent and, for whatever reason, he keeps raising. Once you're absolutely sure you have the nuts (don't forget to check for a possible straight flush), how many raises should you put in? The best chance your opponent can have here is that he flopped a set. If so, he'll make a full house or better to beat your flush about a third of the time: you are a 2:1 favorite. Nevertheless, if he does get lucky and improve, you lose a lot of money. Thus, your decision here is somewhat personal. If you are willing to invest all your chips in a very positive situation (which this is), go ahead and raise until he stops raising or one of you is out of chips. If not, stop at whatever point you feel comfortable. If you still have the nuts on the turn, you can make the same decision again, knowing you're an almost 4:1 favorite. As we'll discuss later, if you have the nuts on the river, don't stop raising.

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