Some of the best experiences in life are unplanned and inexpensive. The same goes for experiences in No Limit Texas Hold’em. You do not always have to put up big money or have a shiny hand to win a nice pot. In today’s hand, I’ll show you why.
I’m sitting in The Small Blind (TSB) holding 9h-3s with $48,000 chips. The blinds are $600/$1,200 which gives me 40 big blinds, a medium stack according to The Poker Model. With a medium stack I have the luxury to make Pre-flop calls with a wider range of hands (call behind hands) than a short stack. I do not have the luxury to make tricky plays that I would with a large stack. 9-3 is a poor starting hand and I will fold to any raise.
The action folds to The Cutoff (TC) who calls the big blind amount followed by another call from The Button (TB). The action is now on me. Because there are no previous raises, I should make this call with any two cards regardless of my stack size, according to The Poker Model. This is only because I am in The Small Blind and already half-invested into the pot. I can get in cheaply and hope for a check from The Big Blind (TB) behind me, where I can see a flop and hope to improve. I’d raise with K-J, K-Q, A-K, A-Q, A-J, A-10, and pocket pairs Eight through Ace in a effort to take control of the hand. The size of this raise would depend on how many players are in the hand. I would fold to a raise from The Big Blind (TBB). I make the call.
The Big Blind (TBB) checks and The Flop comes Kh-9c-2c. The action is now on me. Like with any other flop situation, I must qualify my hand as good, bad, or mediocre. In this case, I have second pair which is a mediocre hand. My poor starting hand no longer matters because it has improved on the Flop. Weak Pre-Flop hands can become monsters and vice versa on The Flop. Do not get attached or detached from a Pre-Flop hand until you either fold or see a flop for this reason. With mediocre hands I’ll want to check and see if I can make it to the River cheaply. I check.
The Big Blind (TBB) checks and The Cutoff (TC) makes a bet of $2,000, followed by a fold from The Button (TB). The bet is less than half of the pot and is manageable. A much larger bet (pot size) would escalate the hand and open up the possibility for me to exit the hand now. Just like in any other flop situation, I will call one bet, keeping my stack above the 20 big blind threshold and seeing if I can improve on the Turn. Without improvement, I will not call a second bet on The Turn. I call The Flop bet.
The Big Blind (TBB) folds and The Turn is the Eight of Diamonds. I check my mediocre hand for the same reasons I checked on The Flop. If my opponent bets right now it would be a Second Bet, one in which I would fold my mediocre hand to because the stakes are too high. If he checks we will move to the River.
My opponent checks and The River is The Ace of Spades. Although an overcard to my Pair of Nines, I can use a River Blocker Bet to keep the pot small and turn my cards over in the Phase #6 – Showdown, even though I now have 3rd pair. This bet will still allow me to find out if I have the best hand or not without making myself vulnerable to a bluff from my opponent. My River Blocker Bet should be about ⅓ of the pot and keep me over the 20 big blind threshold. If my bet is raised, then I must fold. If called, then I have accomplished my goals of seeing if I have the best hand. If folded to, then I win a nice pot cheaply. I make a River Blocker Bet of $2,900.
My opponent folds and I win the pot. It’s clear that he made a continuation bet on The Flop, shutdown on The Turn, and did not improve on the River.
The purpose of today’s hand was to provide an example of how you can get into a pot cheaply from the blinds and still use The Poker Model strategy to play out the hand. No matter the path you take to get to the Flop, it will always be good, bad, or mediocre and you can play accordingly. See every hand as an experience that could turn into gold, but do not force the action.