It’s not always full steam ahead in poker. Sometimes we have to pump the brakes in order to save chips in a hand. The Poker Model gives you hard and fast rules for how to play the game, but it also shows you spots where bending the rules is recommended. In today’s hand we’ll break down an example where this is the case.
I’m sitting in The Cutoff+2 (TC+2) holding Js-10s with the blinds at $200/$400. I have $16,000 in my stack, which is 40 big blinds. If the action folds to me, I will raise to $800. J-10 would qualify as a raising hand in this spot because it’s any two cards over seven, the action has folded to me, and I have over 20 big blinds. If there had been a previous raise, I’d need a call behind hand or a premium hand (AA, KK, AK) to get into the action. J-10 is neither, so I will fold to a previous raise.
The action folds to me and I raise to $800 for the above reasons. The goal of this raise was to isolate the hand so I am in a controlling position on The Flop. Unfortunately, I am called by two players behind me and one in The Big Blind (TBB). With more players in the pot behind me, it will be harder to make everyone fold. Before thinking too deeply about what could be, I must see what flop cards come and qualify my hand as good, bad, or mediocre.
The Flop comes Ah-9s-2c, The Big Blind (TBB) checks, and the action is on me. I’ve flopped a bad hand (3rd pair or worse) according to The Poker Model. Typically with a bad hand I would make a standard continuation bet (video) in an effort to win the pot right now. But with two players on my left and The Big Blind (TBB) still in the hand, it is far less likely that my bet will get both of them to fold, which is the goal of the continuation bet with a bad hand. With more than one player on my left in this spot, I should bend the rule and check with a bad hand. I should give up on the hand because there is a greater potential of being called. I will only give up here with 2 or more players on my left. With on player on my left I’d make the standard continuation bet.
I make the check, the player on my left checks, and The Button (TB) bets. The Big Blind (TBB) folds and I fold, giving up on the hand.
In today’s hand you saw an example of when it’s okay to slow down and bend a rule. We can make a rule like “with a bad hand, make a standard continuation bet”, but you must see the whole table and understand that with more than one player on your left, the bet will most likely be called, making it much hard to win the hand right now which is the goal of a continuation bet with a bad hand. So stay on course and follow the rules, but always keep an eye out for when an adjustment might be necessary, slow down if you see yellow.