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Common Situations - When to Fold or Bet (Part 1)

Published October 25, 2008 - RSS/XML Feed RSS

By Sean Gibson


One skill a player must learn while playing the micro-stakes of online poker is knowing when to fold. Too often the biggest downfall of a new player is calling too much, especially when the signs are there that he or she is beat. You probably already know you don’t want to become a calling station (someone that just calls down every bet), but you don’t want to be the player that’s in too many pots and betting too many streets. Just like the old saying goes – you gotta know when to fold’em playing hold’em.


Let’s look at some hands and using the replayer and we’ll stop the action so you can think to yourself whether you would fold, raise, or call. Try to do these exercises before we give the recommended answer.


Example 1
Our hero is in the cutoff seat (1 off from the dealer button) for this hand and raises it up 3x the big blind (we recommend 4x). The villain in the hand (vogs18) on the big blind puts out a really weird raise to $2 (this raise should have been to $2.50). Our hero with AK offsuit makes the call with position and a big hand. The flop comes Q57 rainbow and our villain check-raises us all in. The pot, when you add in his all-in and the $3 our hero put out there, is about $17 and it’s going to be $7.15 more to call. Do you fold or call?
Recommended Answer: FOLD. This is a situation where you are either facing a big time bluff (very unlikely) or are crushed in the hand by AA, KK, QQ, AQ, or KQ. By using PokerStove, we see that our opponent with a range of the hands above has 89 to 11% equity against us in the hand. It’s not even close to a coinflip! Just save the $7 and move on to the next hand.
Example 2
Our hero has a great hand here with AQ suited in the hijack seat (2 off from the dealer button) and makes a 3x BB raise (again, make sure YOU make it 4x). Our villain in the small blind min-raises us (a dubious play) and our hero flat calls. Our hero properly plays it safe calling the flop min-bet and checking to see the river. The river card is a Q giving our hero TPTK (Top Pair Top Kicker), however the board is extremely dangerous. The villain throws out a ~75% bet at the river. What do you do – fold, call, or raise?
Recommended Answer: FOLD. Although there are no flush draws that filled out on this board, there definitely are a lot of hands that he could be holding that beat you.
·         A hand with any 10 in it beats you (straight)
·         Pocket pairs of 99 and 88 beat you (full house)
·         A hand with any J beats you (three of a kind)
Now think of all the hands that he might have that he would make this bet with that you have beat.
·         KQ (Top Pair, worse kicker)
·         Busted Flush/Busted Straight Draw Bluff/AK Bluff
This is where your instincts would come into being having watching this opponent play a bit to see if he was bluffy on the river, but let’s take the bluff equation out of the hand – it really looks like you’re beat here by an overwhelming majority. It’s time to fold because you are flat out beat.
Example 3
Okay this one is pretty easy. It’s a fold right? Right! The first “red flag†was the donk bet on the flop. A “donk bet†means that you were the preflop raiser, your opponent called, and when first to act your opponent bets into you.   Anyways moving on in the hand, at the river our opponent bets the pot. I think it’s not out of the realm of reason to think that our opponent might be bluffing here but the problem is you have AJ meaning that *anything* beats us in terms of a pair of twos on up. It’s time to fold – again.
What to think about
Here are the important points to take in from this article as part of the bigger picture of your poker education as you play the micro-stakes of online poker:
-          When a big decision has to be made, think about what your opponent would logically be making their bet with, and is it a hand that you have beat.

-          Always reassess yourself on every street. Pocket Aces might look GREAT at the flop, but if we’re at the river and all you have is a pair of aces, they don’t look as sexy as they used to.

-          There’s never a need to throw away money on the river when you know you are beat.


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