You will have plenty of time to make decisions while at the poker table, so use it. In episode #3 of The Poker Model podcast we touch on the idea that thinking through the outcomes that can occur after you make your move is key. This process will help eliminate some of the uncertainty and ensure that you won’t have to guess. In today’s hand I’ll show you how.
I’m sitting in The Big Blind (TBB) holding 9d-10d with $11,000 and blinds at $200/$400. I have about 28 big blinds in my stack which is a medium stack according to The Poker Model. Under The Gun (UTG) raises to $800 and two players call, one from Under The Gun+2 and the other from The Button (TB). 9d-10d is usually not a call behind hand when facing a raise, but from The Big Blind (TBB) I can call behind with a wider range because I’m already invested in the pot. While there will be more money to win with more callers in front, The Poker Model recommends only calling with suited connectors over 6, suited one-offs over 6, any two cards over seven (excluding A-A, K-K, and A-K, raising hands), and pocket pairs 22-QQ. If there is a re-raise (3-bet) after the original bet then fold unless you have a premium hand like A-A, K-K, A-K. Raise with those hands in an attempt to get all-in Pre-Flop. For these reasons, I call.
The Flop comes Ks-10h-2c and the action is on me. I’ve flopped Second Pair, a mediocre hand according to The Poker Model. With mediocre hands I’m unsure if I have the best hand and want to get to the next card cheaply so I know I will check. Think about it, if my opponents have a pair higher than a 10, then I’m losing. If they have a pair worse than a 10, then I’m winning. It’s very hard to know so I’ll need more information before assuming one thing or the other. I can’t know exactly what they have but I can use if/then statements to determine my next move. After my check:
- If one opponent bets and no others call, then call if my stack stays over 20 big blinds.
- If one opponent bets and one or more opponents call or raise, then fold.
- All other scenarios take us to the Turn.
So I make the check knowing that I can call one bet from one player, but must fold to other outcomes.
Under The Gun (UTG) bets $900 and the other two players in the hand fold. Using the logic above, I already know I can call this bet. There is one bet and calling will keep me over the 20 big blind mark (about 25 big blinds). On a side note, it’s definitely possible that this player has a King in his hand which beats my Second Pair. But it’s more likely that he is making a standard continuation bet with a bad hand and hoping to win the pot right now. The hand moves to Phase #4 – Turn.
The Turn is the Eight of Clubs and the action is on me. I’ll check for the same reasons as on the Flop and on the Turn, I will gather more information about where I am in the hand by seeing if he bets or not. I’ll still run through my if/then scenarios after my check, which are slightly different now:
- If opponent makes The Second Bet, a bet when the same player who made the continuation bet on the Flop makes an additional bet on the Turn, then fold. While he may be bluffing, The Second Bet shows strength and I can wait for a better spot, with a good hand in the future.
- All other scenarios take us to the River because you know you will check no matter what, so check or fold to the Second Bet.
My opponent checks and the hand moves to Phase #5 – River.
The River is the Ace of Spades and the action is on me. This may look like a bad card because it’s another overcard to my 10s, but it’s not terribly important because I can make a small bet into the pot here on the River, a River Blocker Bet, that will ensure that I stay above the 20 big blind marker regardless. This bet will be about ⅓ of the Pot. I have a new set of if/thens after this bet:
- If opponent folds, then I win (yay!)
- If opponent calls, then I may win
- If opponent raises, then I fold
No matter the outcome, I will keep 20 big blinds and move to the next hand. Remember that the goal of a mediocre hand is to get to the River cheaply and not leave yourself with a small stack (under 20 big blinds)
I make the River Blocker Bet of $1,600 and am called by my opponent, who flips over 8h-7s. I’ve won the pot with my mediocre hand because 10s beat 8s. We can see that my opponent came into the pot in Phase #2 – Pre-Flop by raising. On the Flop, he made a standard continuation bet with nothing hoping to win. After my call, he slowed down and checked on the Turn after making a pair of 8s. The River was a scare card for both of us, but I was able to make a River Blocker Bet, keeping my stack over 20 big blinds and winning the hand.
Remember, IF you think about hands in this way, THEN you will have to guess less and be more comfortable at the tables.