Knowing when to change gears

We can start this article off with an example. A solid player is in the under the gun seat with a stack of 112bb and they limp for $1 in an online no-limit Texas hold’em full ring $0.50-$1.00 game. It then gets folded around to you in the cut-off seat and you hold the Qc-Qd. Now against a simple limper, you have a very high probability that your pocket queens are the best hand.

You too have a stack of more than 100bb and you have $132. So you make it $5 to go and the button folds. The small blind who has a stack of 143bb three bets to $20 and the big blind folds. If this were the only action at the table then you can certainly call the re-raise. You have position and your opponent could easily believe that your pre-flop raise was simply targeting a weak limper. So in this scenario then you can call the re-raise and reassess what to do when you see the flop.

However the limper now four bets to $60 and the action is now on you. In this no-limit hold’em hand then you are only in for $5 at this moment in time but this latest action is indicative of your hand not being the best hand. So you have three individual situations that are present in this one hand and all of which required a different action. It was limped by one player around to you and so the best action was to raise. But against a re-raise then your best play was to probably call and use your position to help you. However when you see the limp re-raise then it is difficult to see how pocket queens can be the best hand! This is where a fold is in order.

Imagine for a minute that you are driving a car; you need to use all of the gears at the right time to drive the car optimally. Here you raised with the almost likely best hand. You were then prepared to call the re-raise with what you then believed would have been the possible best hand and you then folded with what you then believed was the worst hand. This is where some weaker players need to improve their games because they get “married” to what they believe are big hands all too easily in online poker.

You can see in this one example that a good player is prepared to raise, call and fold all on the same round of play. Likewise, if say it gets folded around to the button who raises and the small blind re-raises. You have Jc-Jd in the big blind and believe that the button was stealing and raising with a wide range. You also believe that the small blind knew this and was three betting with a wider than normal range also.

So your pocket jacks were possibly the best hand. You four bet but then the original raiser over bets the pot by five bet shoving. In this instance then you have been unfortunate to catch your opponent at the very top of their range and if you both have substantial funds left on the table then a fold is probably the best play in this instance


Carl Sampson is an online poker player and poker ambassador for 888poker

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