I’m holding Ad-7h from The Cutoff+1 (TC+1) with 29 big blinds. There are no antes and the blinds are $100/$200. Player’s 131 and 272 are both considered small stacks because they have less than 20 big blinds. Player’s 346, 322, 239, and myself are all considered medium stacks because we have between 20-50 big blinds. Player’s 171 and 190 are considered large stacks because they have over 50 big blinds. This information will prove useful when I engage in the hand. See here for a quick review on how to calculate the number of big blinds: big blinds = (stack size) ÷ (1 big blind)
For this specific table:
- Player 131: (3,370) ÷ (200) = 17 big blinds
- Player 346: (7,765) ÷ (200) = 39 big blinds
- Player 322: (7,794) ÷ (200) = 39 big blinds
- Player 54 (me): (5,875) ÷ (200) = 29 big blinds
- Player 239: (6,218) ÷ (200) = 31 big blinds
- Player 272: (3,800) ÷ (200) = 19 big blinds
- Player 171: (15,600) ÷ (200) = 78 big blinds
- Player 190: (10,097) ÷ (200) = 50 big blinds
Knowing that a small stack is less than 20 big blinds, a medium stack is 20-50 big blinds, and a large stack is 50+ big blinds, allows me to put each opponent in the appropriate category. The size of their stacks will help me understand what decision to make later on. I won’t need to figure out every possible scenario until it’s my turn because my opponent’s action in front of me will help narrow my best option.
The action folds to me and I have a Poker Model rule available for this situation:
When the action folds to you and you have a medium or large stack, raise 2x the big blind with any two cards greater than 7, any ace, any pocket pair, or 6-7/7-8/7-9/7-10 suited.
This rule is available to me because I meet all of the criteria:
- The action has folded to me
- I have a medium stack (29 big blinds)
- I have any ace (A-7)
Now that I’ve qualified, I raise 2x the big blind as the rule states.
2 x 200(the big blind) = 400. I raise to $400.
Recall that after I choose my action option to raise, the players behind me get to choose their action options. The flow of action moves clockwise around the table. Here’s what occured after I made my raise to $400:
- Player 239: Folded
- Player 272: Called $400 from The Button (TB)
- Player 171: Folded
- Player 190: Called $200 from The Big Blind (TBB)
- Player 190 was already in for $200 as the big blind and called an additional $200 to match the total raise of $400
Because there were no 3-bets (raises) behind my initial raise, the hand moves to the next phase, where The Flop comes 5c-Ac-8s. The action begins on Player 190, who checks to me.
Now I must assess the Flop to determine my next move. I’ve made “One Pair – Aces, 8, 7, 5 High”, which is Top Pair on the board. Just like The Poker Model has categories for stack sizes (small, medium, large), it also has categories for strength of hands. Using both of the cards in your hand, these are:
- Big: Two Pair, Three of a Kind, Straight, Flush, Full House, Straight Flush, Royal Flush
- Mediocre: Over Pair, Top Pair, Second Pair, Flush Draw, Open-Ended Straight Draw
- Bad: 3rd Pair or worse
I have a Poker Model Principle available to me for this situation:
When you flop a mediocre hand, check.
There are some exceptions to this principle which will be covered in other posts. For this hand, however, I have a mediocre Top Pair and will check.
Again, look at the flow of action after I’ve made my check on the Flop:
- Player 54 (me): Checked
- Player 272: Checked
The hand moves into Phase #4 – Turn and The Turn is the Qh.
- Player 190 bets $650
The bet by Player 190 can mean many things. Did he check the Flop hoping I would bet so he could raise me with an already made hand? Does he have a draw hoping to bet us both out or potentially improve on the River? Did the Queen help him in some kind of way? The beauty of The Poker Model in this situation is that you don’t have to guess. You know you have a mediocre hand and your goal is to flip your cards over at the showdown to learn if it’s a winner.
The action here is about staying in the medium stack size range, while taking control of the hand. I cannot fold the hand because it could be the winner. I cannot just call the hand because a bad River card could come leaving me more vulnerable. For example, if another club comes then there will be a potential Flush on the board, which beats my Top Pair. This is why I choose the Turn Blocker Bet. The Turn Blocker Bet is a minimum raise on the Turn when your opponent bets into you. It’s useful because it creates isolation, puts your opponent to a tough decision, and gives you control of the hand. The Turn Blocker Bet will double Player 190’s bet, so it will be $1,300. It will leave me as a medium stack if I need to fold later (5,475 – 1,300 = 4,174 = 21 big blinds). If any opponents move all-in over the top then I will fold.
Follow the action after the Turn Blocker Bet was made:
- Player 272: Folded
- Player 190: Called an additional $650
The hand moves to Phase #5 – River and The River is the Jd
- Player 190 Checks
The goal of The Turn Blocker Bet was to allow me to flip my cards over at the end of the hand without risk; it was highly successful. Remember that I cannot know precisely what my opponents have at any given time. I can put them on a range, but never exact. After The Turn Blocker Bet, Player 272 exited the hand followed by Player 190’s call. Player 190 then checked, giving full control on the River to me. With my mediocre hand, I’ve achieved my goal of getting to Phase #6 – Showdown and flipping my cards over without ever going below the 20 big blind boundary.
I make the check and flip my cards over for the win. Player 190 had 10h-Js and was hoping to bluff us out on the Turn or hit his Straight draw on the River (K or 9). It’s quite possible that if we had bet the flop, one of our two opponents may have raised us in an attempt to bluff. This is why with mediocre hands, we check.
Remember when playing to keep your categories in order. There is no need to make a big call that has you crossing the boundary from medium to small stack. You must be precise and calculated when look for opportunities like the one described today. See the electric fence in front of you and flip your cards in the end.