You must dig in to individual aspects of the game, like how to calculate big blinds, in order to develop a full understanding of The Poker Model, but you must also have a more broad view of the Model to play a tournament confidently and find success. Today we’ll take a step back, covering how the four key pre-flop elements set the stage for determining a good, bad, or mediocre flop according to The Poker Model. We will see how our Phase #2 – Pre-Flop actions affect our Phase #3 – Flop decisions.
I’m sitting on the Button holding Kd-Jd with $62,000 chips in my stack. The big blind is $1,000, giving me 62 big blinds. Recall that a large stack is greater than 50 big blinds, a small stack is less than 20 big blinds, and a medium stack is 21-50 big blinds according to The Poker Model. Knowing that I have a large stack will help me determine what play to make when the action is on me. For instance, I’ll play way less hands with a short stack than I would with a medium or large stack. My choices will be different with small and medium stacks.
The player seated under the gun raises to $2,000 and the rest of the table folds to me on the Button. This raise amount is standard and makes me think he may have a wider range of hands than if he had raised more, like $4,000. With a large or medium stack, K-J is a call behind hand when facing one previous raise. Other call behind hands are 2-2, 3-3, 4-4, 5-5, 6-6, 7-7, 8-8, 9-9, 10-10, J-J, Q-Q, A-10, A-J, A-Q, and K-Q in this scenario according to The Poker Model. Fold all other hands expect A-A, K-K, or A-K. These are the premium hands that you will re-raise (3-bet) with. I make the call of $2,000 because 1) I have over 20 big blinds. If I had under 20 big blinds, I would not call. 2) I am seated behind the raise. If I were the first to act, I’d make a raise instead of calling a raise. 3) There is one previous raise. If there were more than one previous raise then I’d fold. 4) I have a call behind hand. If I did not have a call behind hand then I would fold or raise. The four elements have determined it’s okay to make this call. The small blind folds and the big blind makes the call. The hand moves to Phase #3 – Flop.
The flop comes Ac-6s-2d and both of my opponents check. Similarly to my assessment of the four key elements pre-flop, I must now assess my hand strength on the Flop. My hand will always be good, bad, or mediocre according to The Poker Model. When I am last to act, I will bet a bad hand in hopes of getting my opponents to fold, bet a good hand in hopes of getting my opponents to play back at me, and check a mediocre hand in hopes of improving my hand cheaply on future phases.
Using both of the cards in my hand, a bad hand according to The Poker Model is 3rd pair or worse, a good hand is two pair or better, and a mediocre hand is second pair, top pair, overpairs, open-ended straight draws, and flush draws. Future posts will cover these categories in more detail.
On this flop, Kd-Jd is a bad hand. I make a bet of approximately half of the Pot in hopes that both of my opponents fold.
Both of my opponents fold and I win the Pot. I will get this result much of the time when I bet with a bad hand. If either of the other players had raised back at me, then I would have folded my bad hand. With my stack size, losing a pot like this is not a big deal. It will become a bigger deal as I approach 20 big blinds. This is why we play less hands with a short stack. If I had received a call, then I’d have to see what card comes on the next phase to determine my next move. If another bad card comes then I will give up on the hand. If a K or J comes, improving my hand, then I’ll look to get to the River and see if my mediocre hand can win. Start to pay attention to the flow of the hand as you move across phases and you’ll find similar patterns that can be practiced and master.