Blinded By The Light

[youtube Illusions are ever-present throughout the course of a poker hand and can flaw your decision making. In today’s hand we’ll show you how an improvement can have a negative consequence without proper understanding of how to make the fold. Image94_1 I’m sitting in Under The Gun+1 (UTG+1) holding As-9s with blinds at $50/$100. I have $6,000 chips (60 big blinds), a large stack according to The Poker Model. After Under The Gun (UTG) folds the action is on me. As-9s qualifies as a raising hand in this situation according to The Poker Model. With no previous action and over big blinds, I’ll come into the pot raising with any ace. Image94_2 I make the raise to $200 and the action folds around to The Button (TB) who calls. Then The Small Blind (TSB) folds and The Big Blind (TBB) calls. The hand will now move to Phase #3 – Flop where I will be in middle position. There is $650 in the pot going to The Flop. Image94_3 The Flop comes Kh-Qs-5c and The Big Blind (TBB) checks to me. I will now qualify my hand has good, bad or mediocre. As-9s is merely ace high on this board, a bad hand. With bad hands I’ll want to make a standard continuation bet in an effort to get both of my opponents to fold and win the pot right now. If it doesn’t work, I’ll give up on the hand and look for a better spot later (assuming I do not greatly improve). I make a half-pot sized bet of $325. Image94_4 The Button (TB) folds to my continuation bet and The Big Blind (TBB) calls. While the continuation bet worked by getting The Button (TB) to fold and giving me position for the rest of the hand, it was unfortunate that The Big Blind (TBB) called. I’ll now have to improve in order to win. The Turn is the Jack of Diamonds and my opponent checks to me. The Jack didn’t help my hand in anyway. In this situation, I’ll pump the brakes and check behind. I’ve already made my attempt to win the pot on The Flop with a bad hand and have not improved here on the Turn. I check. Image94_5 The River is the Nine of Hearts, a card that raises the value of my hand. My opponent bets $650 and the action is back on me. Here is where I must remain disciplined and make the fold. Even though my hand has improved, it is still bad because it is worse than third pair. The reason is must fold is that my opponent most likely had me beat on The Flop and/or The Turn with a King, Queen, or Jack. It’s possible that he had J-10 on the Flop and improved on the Turn. I’ll make the fold for these reasons. Image94_6 I lose the hand but still have about 55 big blinds left in my stack. The main takeaway here is to remain in your zone and not be blinded by an improvement on The River. Do not change the plan because your hand has gotten better, but assess the situation and the bad, mediocre, and good of your hand. Really consider if your improvement makes you the winner or if it’s giving you blurred vision. Brett

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