I’m holding Qd-Jh sitting on the Button with blinds at $25/$50 and the action is on me. I have about 90 big blinds in my stack. According to The Poker Model, Qd-Jh qualifies as a playable hand as long as no action has occurred before me and I have over 20 big blinds. Q-J falls into the “any two cards over 7” hand group. When both of these criteria are met, I should raise 2x the big blind as my action. For these reasons, I raise to $100.
The Small Blind folds and the Big Blind calls. Phase #1 – Hand Setup and Phase #2 – Pre-flop are now complete and the hand will move to Phase #3 – Flop, where 3 community cards will show. I will have position in the hand because I am last to act. This is an advantage because I will have more information when it’s my turn than my opponent has for his. I’ll have already seen his move, for example. The action will start with the Big Blind.
The Flop comes Qc-4h-Ad. The Big Blind checks and the action is on me. I’ve flopped second pair which falls under the mediocre hand category according to The Poker Model. Other mediocre hands on this Flop would be Top Pair; any ace except A-Q or A-4. With mediocre hands I’m not sure if I have the best hand or not. My opponent can easily bluff me off of a hand if I bet, leaving me unsure if I folded the winner. For this reason I will check, controlling the pot and looking to improve on the Turn.
After I check on the Flop, the Turn is the 2 of Spades. This card doesn’t change my outlook of the hand because there are no flush draws or good straight draws after the 2 hits. The Big Blind checks again and the action is on me. Because the Big Blind has now checked twice, I’m fairly confident that I have the best hand. Usually when players have a big hand they bet in order to build the Pot. My bet will work as a blocker bet with the potential for value. If I bet and he folds, then I win. If I bet and he calls, then we’ll move to the River and I’ll be last to act with momentum in my favor. Typically players will check the River after calling a bet like this on the Turn if they don’t improve. If I bet and he raises, then I must fold because I do not want to be vulnerable to a big River bet after calling. In this case he will have momentum and I’ll be unsure of my status in the hand.
I make an average sized bet of $125 (about half pot) and am raised to $600 by the Big Blind. I’ve already determined that I would fold to a raise before I made my bet, so that will be my action. What does the Big Blind have? I will not know for sure because he mucks his hand, but my guess is he either slow played a good hand waiting for me to bet or he had a hand like A-2, Q-2, or 3-5. These hands improved tremendously when the 2 of Spades showed on the Turn. It’s always possible that the Big Blind is bluffing, but this pot is not that big and the reward for it working it not that high.
I fold my hand and lose the Pot, even with the best position and firm grip on the hand. The good news is I lost a minimal amount of chips. This situation is very common in poker, which is why you must have a core strategy to handle all situations. I did not agonize about the fold, I move on quick and keep my game buttoned up for the next hand.