The set up:
In today’s article we will go over a “toy” example. Our example will put you in the same decision-making spot but provide different Flop cards, allowing you to see the differences in making the correct Poker Model play depending on what cards show. This exercise will shed some light on how to categorize your hand after a common string of events has already occurred.
Pay close attention to the image above. All you have to focus on is that the action has folded to me, I have raised, and the big blind has called. I will be heads up and in position going to the Flop. Heads up because there are two of us in the hand and in position because I will be last to act on the Flop. This is the stage for the following examples.
The set up continued:
The money is pulled into the pot and the Big Blind checks to me. I have put three Flop cards facedown to emphasize that not matter what the Flop, my hand will always be good, bad, or mediocre. I have not assigned specific stack sizes in this hand so we will assume that both players have large stacks for simplicity. I will assume that the Big Blind always checks in this article.
Reminder: I raised pre-flop and am heads up in position on the Flop. My opponent has checked. According to The Poker Model, a good hand (in most cases, others will be covered in future posts) is Two Pair or better using both cards in my hand. With good hands I should bet, about half of the Pot, hoping to induce action and potentially put all of my chips in the Pot. If I get a strong play back from my opponent, then I will raise back, putting myself in a good position to win a big pot with little risk. If I have worse than Two Pair, then I do not have a good hand. For today’s purposes, the above parameters will work. Note that there are cases where your hand will need deeper explanation to determine if it is good (stack size and certain draws will affect this). I’ve given some examples of good flops for Jd-10s above. Note that your opponent will not always give you the action that you desire. This is expected and you should continue to make this play with a good hand.
Reminder: I raised pre-flop and am heads up in position on the Flop. My opponent has checked. According to The Poker Model, a bad hand (in most cases, others will be covered in future posts) is 3rd pair or worse and Inside Straight Draws or Back Door Flush Draws. With bad hands I bet, hoping that my opponent did not connect and inducing a fold. I’ve given some examples of bad flops for Jd-10s above. Note that your opponent will not always fold, but you will only lose a small amount of chips and have learned that some connection has been made by the opposing player. There is no way to know this unless you make the continuation bet. In these cases pump the breaks and look for a better spot later by checking and then folding to future bets.
Reminder: I raised pre-flop and am heads up in position on the Flop. My opponent has checked. According to The Poker Model, a mediocre hand (in most cases, others will be covered in future posts) is Second Pair, Open-Ended Straight Draws, Flush Draws, Top Pair, and Over Pairs. With a mediocre hand I should check, seeing a free card on the Turn. This will give me the opportunity to improve my hand and also put my opponent on a hand based on his second action. When I check, I am guaranteed to see the Turn card at no cost. By not betting I am losing some value in the hand if I have the best hand, but I am also limiting the risk of getting raised and becoming vulnerable. The Poker Model suggests this play as a premium way to control the Pot. I’ve given some examples of mediocre flops for Jd-10s above.
Knowing what is good, bad, and mediocre is critical to understanding The Poker Model. The above strategy allows you to win big pots with good hands, win small pots with bad hands, and improve your hand cheaply with mediocre hands. We’ve covered one small segment of The Poker Model today. Stay tuned for more.