Pick a Card, Any Card

I’m sitting on the Cutoff (CO) holding Jd-9d with 45 big blinds and the action has folded to me. Blinds are $50/$100. Because there is no previous action, Jd-9d qualifies under the hand range of “any two over 7” to open raise 2x the Big Blind which is what I’ll do.

If there had been a previous raise, then I’d fold Jd-9d as it is not a call behind hand. Call behind hands are A-10, A-J, A-Q, K-J, K-Q, and pocket pairs 22-QQ. While Jd-9d looks enticing, I’m still unlikely to improve on the Flop and will have to fold to a continuation bet. Unless I plan on 3-bet bluffing that continuation bet because it can be made with a bad hand, I should fold right now to a previous raise. I’d consider making the move if my opponent were closer to 20 big blinds and my 3-bet bluff would put him to the test.  

I would raise the hand with previous callers, only instead of 2x the big blind, 3x with 1 caller, 4x, with 2 callers, ect. This will help create isolation for me on the Flop.  

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I make the min raise to $200 and am called by both the Button and the Big Blind, who have large stacks. The Flop comes 10s-Ad-8c and the Big Blind checks to me. I’ve flopped an open-ended straight draw, a mediocre hand according to The Poker Model. With a mediocre hand I’ll make every attempt to keep the Pot small until I improve. If I make a continuation bet here and am raised, then I’ve escalated the hand unnecessarily. With a draw I don’t want the Pot to get big until I have made my hand. When the stakes are higher before I’ve filled my draw, bets are bigger and it becomes more expensive to see the Turn. The potential for this outcome is enough for me to check, either seeing a free Turn card or calling 1 bet to see if my hand improves.    

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I check and the Button makes an average sized bet, which is between ⅓-⅔ pot according to The Poker Model. The Big Blind folds and the action is back to me. I do a quick review to ensure that this bet doesn’t put me under the 20 big blind threshold and it does not. I’ve planned for this bet and I will make the call, hoping to improve my mediocre hand on the Turn.

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I call and the Turn is the 2d, adding a flush draw to my open-ended straight draw. While my hand is very close to being meaningful, I still only have Jack high. There are many cards that can come on the River that do not help me. I keep the same thought process by checking, allowing my opponent to bet or check. If he checks, then I’ll see a free card. If he bets, then I’ll call and still have over 20 big blinds in my stack. Regardless of the outcome, I’ll get to see if I make my draw without putting myself at risk in anyway.

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My opponent checks allowing me to see a free River card which is the 8d. I’ve made my flush. While it’s possible that my opponent has a higher flush, it’s not something to worry about unless he raises my potential bet. It would be unlucky for me if he had two diamonds with a Q or K in his hand or to have made a full house on the River. If he raises me after my potential bet, then it would be more likely that he has a flush or full house, although his flush can still below mine. I would call the raise if it left me with over 20 big blinds in my stack. It would be a very tough decision but I would keep my tournament life and fold if his raise put me below the 20 big blind marker.  

If I had missed, then I’d check fold, losing the minimum on the hand. Now that I’ve made my flush, however, I’ll look for more value. Trips and full houses can look for the same value. A flush qualifies as a good hand in this scenario according to The Poker Model. With good hands we’ll make a big bet. A big bet is +⅔ of the Pot. There is $1,250 in the Pot so I will bet $950. As mentioned above, if I’m raised here then I’ll begin to think that he’s also made a flush or even a full house. I’d make a fold and stay alive in the tourney if that raise puts me under 20 big blinds.

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My opponent calls and flips over As-Js. I’ve won a nice pot while only putting substantial chips when I had a good hand. The Poker Model strategy is built around managing risky situations and maximizing value when the good hands come. I’d rather have the hand when I’m betting big instead of giving my opponent the ability to knock me out of a tournament when I know that I don’t have the best hand. You can’t pick your cards in Hold’em, so make sure to pick your spots.

Brett

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