Today’s post is about a subject that I have addressed in various forms several times before. However, it is one that seems to escape the majority of internet players. I am talking about knowing when to lay a hand down. Knowing when you are in trouble and knowing when you bluff has not worked. Especially in tournament/Sit n Go play, improving this one little aspect can make your success rate go way up.
First of all, I am not talking about seeing “ghosts” behind every corner. Just because someone re-raises you all-in when you have made your set of 8’s does not mean they have you beaten with a higher set. On the contrary, they probably have a pair of Ace’s or something similar, maybe even a draw. (See my book,for chasing down hands that will not win even when you hit them.) No, you cannot become paranoid that every strong hand you have is already beaten or you will fail to maximize your wins.
What I am talking about is when you get involved in a hand where you may be out kickered or signs exist that tell you someone has hit a monster. Many online players do not like to consider the possibility that their hand (which they hit on the Flop or Turn) is already beaten by a better hand. It is a natural tendency to think that because you hit the hand you were driving at, it must be the winning hand. If you pay attention to the signs that are there, you will know when it is not the winner. To do this, however, you have to keep your ego out of it. Being able to get away from it will save you chips and make you money.
Consider this example: You are in the Big Blind with Q-J off suit. The Flop comes Q-8-2 rainbow. You lead out with a pot sized bet and are promptly re-raised all-in by another player from middle position. Many players that I have seen call this bet without thinking about it. It is a classic mistake made by online players over and over and over.
You have high pair and a GOOD kicker, so you feel that his bet is a bluff. Well, I am here to tell you that it probably isn’t. In this case, he very likely has A-Q and has you out kickered, or he is holding pocket K’s. Either way, he is telling you that he does not fear your bet. Listen to him. 99% of the players you face will not make an all-in raise unless they feel that they have you beaten and in a case like this, they are probably right.
Hell, he might have K-Q or even something really silly like Q-8 so that he has 2 pairs to your one high pair. Either way, while a pair of Q’s with a J-kicker is nice, it is far from the nuts and you took your shot at it, now have the sense to lay it down.
These examples come up all the time. Practice spotting them when you are not even in the hand.
You will see players betting huge with an Ace on the board and 3 or 4 suited cards also on the board after the Turn or River. (if there is a re-raise, someone has that flush, I promise you.) Sometimes, with over-cards on the board, you will see a re-raise all-in from another player that many times will indicate he has made a set. Don’t fall in love with your Aces to the point that you are blind to all other possibilities.
I have seen players justify calling a big raise when they were obviously beaten by typing into the chat box “I had the best hand pre-flop”
Well, good for you! You can have pocket Aces before the Flop, I can be holding 2-4 off suit and if the Flop comes 2-2-4, guess what, your pre-flop holding does not matter anymore! It happens, get used to it and more importantly, get used to spotting it. Usually the RE-RAISE is the tip off. If you get a player re-raising, they usually have a monster. Most internet players are just not sophisticated enough to re-raise for a large amount of chips unless they really hit the nuts or close to it. I am not talking about a re-raise that simply doubles an obvious continuation bet, I am talking about a huge re-raise for most of your chips.
I am also not talking about a pre-flop re-raise either. You see players make totally moronic re-raises pre-flop with hands that should have been folded all the time. For example, last night I raised pre-flop with pocket J’s. I was re-raised by the player behind me who turned out to be holding A-9 off suit. (I made a set of J’s on the Flop, while he re-raised again for all his chips on an inside straight draw. I called, he sucked out the gut-shot straight and I decided that was a good time to go to bed. If I am beat by that kind of idiot, then I need to call it a night before my computer goes sailing out the window!)
Anyway, pre-flop re-raises don’t count. I am talking about post-flop when someone has obviously made a big hand and yours is somewhat suspect. This skill will take some practice and you do not want to become a player who thinks that he is beaten at the drop of a hat. (these players exist, they are the one’s patting themselves on the back because they laid down top pair to a bluff just because there was a flush draw on the board.)
Over all, you have to play your strong hands strongly, but realize when your hand is not as strong as it could be and as long as you have enough chips to still be a factor, lay it down and wait for a better opportunity. Being stubborn will get you nowhere but broke.
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