Hand Improvement

A good hand can turn bad and a bad hand can turn good. Unfortunately, there is not much we can do to control this. What we can do, however, is make sound plays based on the information in front of us and be prepared for all possible future outcomes that may occur. In today’s hand, I’ll make a continuation bet on a bad flop and improve on The River for the win. 

I’m sitting on The Cutoff+2 (TC+2) holding As-Ks with $3,000 in my stack and blinds at $10/20. A-K is a premium starting hand according to The Poker Model, a hand that we want to be all-in with in almost all pre-flop situations (5 bets in multiway pots usually mean A-A or K-K for your opponent, regardless of how unlikely statistically). The same is true for A-A and K-K which are the other two premium hands according to The Poker Model.  

Under The Gun (UTG) raises to $40 and is called by Under The Gun+1 (UTG+1) and Under The Gun+2 (UTG+2). The action is now on me. Because A-K is a premium hand, The Poker Model insists you reraise (3-bet) here. With one raise in front, we raise 3x the raise amount ($120 in this case). But for each additional caller we must add $40 to our raise amount to create better isolation and make it harder for others to come into the pot, which would skew our odds. So I 3-bet to $200 ($120+$40+$40) for this reason. 

The rest of the table folds and all three of my opponents call the additional $160. The hand will move to The Flop with 4 players. The Flop comes 4s-9c-Jh and all players check the action to me. As always, I must qualify my hand as good, bad, or mediocre. I only have Ace High on this flop, which is a bad hand according to The Poker Model because it is worse than third pair, not an open-ended straight draw, and not a Flush draw. With bad hands I’ll bet here in an effort to make my opponents fold. I bet $415, a half-pot, average sized bet. 

I am called by Under The Gun (UTG) and both other players fold. The Turn is the Two of Hearts. My bet worked in that it did clear some of the field, but a call from any player is most likely beating my Ace high. My opponent checks to me and I must check behind, pumping the brakes on the hand. 

A timely Ace hits The River and my opponent checks to me. My hand has improved and now I will think about making a value bet, a bet where I’m most likely ahead and am trying to extract chips from my opponent. If I did not improve on The River, then I would happily check and see if I have my opponent beat. Because my opponent called on The Flop, it’s likely that he had some sort of pair or an open-ended straight draw. None of the straights hit, so I can make a bet that looks enticing because my opponent may not put me on the unlikely Ace. Afterall, why would I bet with an Ace on The Flop? My opponent may see this river bet as a bluff.  I bet $830, an average sized bet. 

My opponent calls and shows Q-J. I’ll win the pot with a pair of Aces. Remember to make sure to assess your hand’s strength as good, bad, or mediocre even if your move is unsuccessful because there is still a chance that you can improve later in the hand. You should certainly not count on this happening, but notice how your tournament will not be at risk in these situations when following The Poker Model. You’ll make your play and be fine with whatever outcome occurs, whether you’ve improved or not. 


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