Check Please

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Hand Qualification: I’m on the Cutoff+2 holding Jd-10c and the action has folded to me. It’s important that I have a system for what hands to play and when. I must recognize what’s happening at the table and hone in on specific variables to determine if I should call, fold, or raise (and how much). In this example, I note that there is no previous action, I have over 20 big blinds in my chip stack, and I have two cards greater than 7. I align these variables with The Poker Model rule: Raise 2x the big blind with no previous action, over 20 big blinds, and two cards over 7. I raise 2x the big blind to $200.

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Table Assessment: The Cutoff+1 folds followed by a call from the Cutoff. The Button, Small Blind, and Big Blind all fold. I must now assess the table and be aware of pot size, players in the pot, table position, and stack size of all active players including myself before the Flop shows. In this case, the pot is now $550, there are 2 players in the pot, I’m out of position and will be first to act on the Flop, and both my opponent and I have well over 20 big blinds. I’m now ready to see the 3 community cards and play accordingly.

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Hand Strength: The Flop comes Ah-Jc-4d and the action is on me. Before thinking about anything else, I must determine the strength of my hand. I have flopped One Pair Jacks – Ace, 10, 4 high.  Because there is an ace on the board, my pair of Jacks is named “second pair”. Regardless of what card is Top Pair (first pair on the board), second pair is always the highest pair below Top Pair. For example, on a 9-8-2 flop, any 9 is Top Pair and any 8 is second pair.  

According to The Poker Model, second pair is a mediocre hand, one in which I want to keep the pot small and make it to the River where I can turn my cards over. As before, I must align the strength of my hand with a Poker Model Rule: With a mediocre hand on the Flop, check and call one bet. Remember that my goal with a mediocre hand is to keep the pot small and see if I can improve on future streets. My only controllable action is if I check or bet. So I check to keep the pot small instead of betting and adding to the pot. After my check, my opponent is in a position to check or bet. I cannot control his action but I can call a bet, guaranteeing that I accomplish my goal of seeing the Turn at minimal cost.

For this reason I check, where my opponent bets $400. I already knew I was going to call this bet when I made the initial check because of the rule, so I call. The hand will now move to the Turn.

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Disciplined Fold: The Turn is the K of Spades and the action is on me. I now have an inside straight draw (which we treat as a bad hand) to go along with second pair. While this looks enticing, my hand has not improved enough for me to be willing to put more chips into the pot to see the River. For this reason, I will check. I’m hoping that my opponent checks because then I’ll get to see a free River card, but if he decides to bet here, then I must fold my hand, check please!  

The Cutoff makes a large bet of $1,200 and I fold my hand, losing a minimal amount of chips and confident that there will be a better spot moving forward to raise the stakes. It’s key to not overvalue your hand or expect a big River card. Stick to the plan and find a better spot.

Brett

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