Do You Even Shift, Bro?

A major part of The Poker Model is knowing how to look at the variables in front of you and execute on the correct play. In today’s example, I’ll show you how a mediocre hand can be upgraded to a good hand solely based on the stack size of my opponent. I must make a shift in order to get the isolation that I need. 

I’m holding 10c-8c on The Button (TB) with $24,000 chips and blinds at $200/$400. I have 60 big blinds, a large stack according to The Poker Model. With a previous raise, I will fold my hand because it does not fall into the call behind range. With no previous action, I will min-raise because my hand qualifies as two cards over seven with over 20 big blinds in my stack.

The action folds around to me and I make a min-raise to $800. The Small Blind (TSB) folds and The Big Blind (TBB) calls. We move to the Flop which shows 10d-4h-2s and my opponent checks. Like always, I must qualify my hand as good, bad, or mediocre before determining what play I will make.

I have flopped Top Pair, which is a mediocre hand according to The Poker Model in most cases. With mediocre hands I check in hopes of controlling the pot and flipping my cards over at the end of the hand to see if I’m the winner.

But there is an additional variable that I must consider on this flop. My opponent’s stack size is under the 20 big blind mark. This means that he is more likely to go all-in with a weaker range of hands than a deeper stack would. For this reason, my mediocre hand is upgraded to a good hand and I must bet in an effort to get all-in.

The Poker Model recommends upgrading Top Pair and Overpairs to good hands when you or your opponent has under 20 big blinds. If you have A-J, on a J-10-2 board, check with a big stack and bet with a short stack. In order to play how The Poker Model recommends, you must qualify your hand and be aware of stack sizes.

I make an average-sized bet, hoping to induce an all-in from my opponent and he takes the bait. An average size bet is half of the pot and leaves my opponent with enough chips to move all-in and potentially get me to fold. My plan worked in that I can make a snap call here in this isolated spot where my hand should be ahead. 

My opponent flips over As-4c and I am about 78% to win this pot. The Turn and River do not improve his hand and I’ll win a nice pot. Remember to add that extra level of awareness when short stacks come into play. Shift the rule and knock him out. 


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