I’m sitting in The Small Blind holding 9d-Qd with 4 players left. Blinds and antes are $1200/$6000/$12000. With $307,671 in chips, I have about 25 big blinds.
The action folds to me in The Small Blind. I have three options here; fold, call or raise:
- Fold: Folding is not recommended. I have a qualifying hand (two cards over 7) and more than 20 big blinds.
- Call: Calling is an okay option. After calling, Player 122 can check or raise. If he checks, then I’ll see a Flop and be first to act. If he raises, then I’ll fold because I do not want to be at Player 122’s mercy on the Flop. With less big blinds I’d recommend calling to keep the Pot small and hoping for a check and a free Flop.
- Raise: Raising is the best option. When I raise I put pressure on Player 122. He can fold, call, or raise (3-bet). If he folds, I win the Pot right now. If he calls, then we’ll see a Flop and I’ll be first to act. If he raises (3-bets), then I’ll fold because I do not want to be at his mercy on the Flop.
Being at a player’s mercy refers to checking to them with a bad hand and allowing them to make a continuation bet to win the Pot. You’ve lost control of the hand.
I choose to raise and Player 122 calls. The Flop comes 3s-6h-2d. Right now I have Queen High, a hand that falls into the “bad” category. Bad hands are classified as having 3rd pair or worse. I have two options here; check or bet:
- Check: Checking is not recommend and is essentially giving up on the hand. After checking, the action will go to Player 122 who can easily bet which forces me to fold. I’d never check here because I should have folded pre-Flop if I didn’t plan on making a continuation bet with a bad hand post-Flop.
- Bet: Betting is the better option. Because I raised Pre-Flop, I can make a continuation bet here. My bet will give Player 122 three options; Fold, call, or raise. If Player 122 folds, then I’ve just won the Pot, an even bigger one than if he had folded Pre-Flop. If he calls, then we’ll see a Turn card that can improve my hand. If he raises, then I’ll fold because I have a bad hand.
I make a smaller size bet of $18,750, leaving me over 20 big blinds if I lose the hand. I’m conscientiously trying to stay over 20 big blinds because if I lose the hand, I’ll still have a good enough stack to make my all-in substantial.
Player 122 raises and the action is back on me. Because I knew this was one potential outcome, it makes my decision easy; I must fold. My only other option would be to bluff all-in or call to set up a bluff later. These two options will not win in the long run and are never recommended.
I fold, keeping my stack over 20 big blinds. Notice that I was able to anticipate all possible outcomes before making my decisions in this hand. It’s more important to have the ability to plan, than to win or lose the Pot. If you are unsure what to do, just fold because a better, easier decision is coming in the future.