I’m on the Button holding Qd-Kh with 25 big blinds in my stack. The Big Blind is $200, which makes The Small Blind $100. There are no antes. Players 171 (Under the Gun: UTG) and 190 (Under the Gun+1: UTG+1) both have over 50 big blinds in their stacks, qualifying them as large stacks. Players 346 (The Cutoff+2: TC+2), 322 (The Cutoff +1: TC+1), and 239 (The Small Blind: TSB) all have between 26-49 big blinds, qualifying them as medium stacks. Players 131 (Under the Gun +2: UTG+2), 370 (The Cutoff: TC), 272 (The Big Blind: TBB), and myself (The Button: TB) all have between 6-24 big blinds, qualifying us as small stacks. See below for a reminder:
- Micro stack: <5 big blinds
- Small stack: 6-25 big blinds
- Medium stack: 26-49 big blinds
- Large stack: >50 big blinds
These stack labels will tell you how much flexibility you have in your decision making. For example, with a large stack I may call behind a raise with Qd-Kh, but with a small stack I will fold. This is because the amount to call is a much lower percentage of a large stack than a small stack. In this hand, I happen to be right on the border between labels. I’ll wait to see what happens in order to make my decision.
The action folds to Player 346 who calls, followed by two folds. The action is now on me in a position of power because I’m last to act post-Flop. My decision is made based on my two cards and the size of my stack. On the high end of the small stack range, I can make a raise that is about 3x the big blind amount and still have over 20 big blinds in my stack. The Poker Model recommends this amount because there is one caller in front. Remember that with no callers in front you will 2x the big blind amount, with one caller you will 3x the big blind amount, with two callers you will 4x the big blind amount and so on. This will ensure that you get the isolation that you need in a Post-Flop situation. When I raise to $525, I’ll have $4,525 left which is 3 big blinds over the 20 big blind mark. I will not make this raise with any two cards, however. See below for the qualifying hands to make this 3x raise with:
- Any Ace
- Any two card over 7
- Any Pocket Pair
Because Qd-Kh qualifies as “any two cards over 7”, I’ll make a raise to $525, which is about 3x the big blind amount. You are looking at a Poker Model rule for a very specific situation above. The Poker Model has rules for all possible situations. Let us know if you are interested in learning more about how to obtain this resource.
I make the raise to $525, Players 239 (TSB) and 272 (TBB) fold, and Player 346 makes the call. The Flop comes 6c-7h-8h and the action is on Player 346. According to The Poker Model, there are three types of Flops; Good, Bad, or Mediocre. See below for the qualifications:
Using both cards in your hand on a Flop like this*
- Good: Straight or better; 4-5, 5-9, 9-10
- Mediocre: Second Pair-Over Pairs, Open Ended Straight Draws, Flush Draws
- Bad: Third Pair or worse
I have “High Card – King, Queen High”, which puts me in the bad hand segment. Recall that I’m in a position of power because I’m on the Button and get to act last. If Player 346 chooses to make a bet, then I will fold because I have a bad hand. If Player 346 checks, then I will make a continuation bet, leaving myself close to the 20 big blind marker. The goal of this bet is to get Player 346 to fold right now. I am leveraging the power of position to take the Pot away from 346 with a bad hand. If I had a mediocre hand, I would check my option which would allow me to control the Pot and possibly improve later in the hand.
Player 346 checks, I make a continuation bet of $525 (leaving me with exactly 20 big blinds left), and Player 346 folds. I’ve won the Pot with a bad hand because of my position and ability to bet the right size at the right time.
The standard continuation bet is one of the most powerful tools that you will use in No Limit Texas Hold’em. Today you saw its success from the Button against a middle-position caller. The reason it works is because your calling opponents will only make a pair 1/3rd of the time they call into a hand. This means that 2/3rds of the time they are checking to you and folding to your bet, whether you have anything or not. Make sure to use this often, while ensuring you keep you stack above 20 big blinds.