When you truly understand the game of No-Limit Texas Hold’em there will come a time where you’ll recognize that any two cards can be played at almost anytime. It’s a liberating feeling to be able to play out what might occur regardless of the two cards in your hand. But The Poker Model advises strongly against subjectively deciding when to play or not play a hand. The Poker Model is designed to give you the appropriate table image (how others view your playing style) and not waste chips based on feel. In today’s hand, I’ll show you how to win a pot with a poor, unqualified, starting hand, using the same set of Poker Model rules as if the hand were qualified. This example will show you that any two cards can be played successfully, but cautions you against going away from The Poker Model to do so.
I’m sitting Under The Gun+2 (UTG+2) holding 5s-2h with $90,000 in chips. The blinds are $500/$1000, giving me 90 big blinds, a large stack according to The Poker Model.
The action folds to me. 5s-2h is not a qualifying hand by any stretch of the imagination from this position according to The Poker Model. Qualifying hands with over 20 big blinds and no previous action are suited connectors over 6, any ace, any pocket pair, any two cards over 7, 9-7 and 10-7 suited. Because 5s-2h does not fall into these ranges, I should always fold this hand. But for the sake of today’s hand and for educational purposes, I’ll make a min raise as though it does qualify.
I am called by The Big Blind (TBB) and The Flop comes As-8h-Kc. The Big Blind (TBB) checks and the action is on me. Even though my hand did not qualify previously, I can still qualify my hand as good, bad, or mediocre on The Flop. My hand is bad because it is worse than third pair. With bad hands I will bet hoping to get my opponent to fold and win the pot right now. I bet half the pot, an average sized-bet according to The Poker Model. This bet is large enough to get my opponent to fold if he missed on The Flop and small enough to not put me at risk if he did connect. Be mindful that many of the hands in my qualifying range would also be bad on the flop, like 9-10, 2-2, and others. I’d follow the same set of betting rules with those bad hands as well.
My opponent folds and I’ll win the pot with 5-2. So why not play every hand if I’ll always flop a good, bad, or mediocre flop and can play according to The Poker Model? The answer is M-Game. The more I raise, the more skepticism I’ll receive from my opponents. Skepticism leads to re-raises (3-bets) pre-flop in which I must fold my hand. The range of hands listed above that do qualify, however, keeps my M-game in a place where I will not get a re-raised (3-bet) every hand, but if I do have a big hand, it’s possible that I’ll have opponents playing back. So stick with The Poker Model’s rules and do not experiment with any two cards. You may win a hand here or there, but at the end of the day, it’s fool’s gold.