The header is a line from ‘The Gambler’ – my favorite poker song by Kenny Rogers. This line emphasizes something that is very essential in poker. Most new poker players think the good money is to be made in the hands that they win. In fact most strong hands when played won’t really matter how good a poker player you are. What makes the difference between the amateur poker player and the professional poker player is knowing when to fold. Why is that? The reason for this is that most poker players are able to win with their strong hands – the pro might be able to subtract a bit more on average than the amateur. The big difference is that the pro knows when to fold and not lose too many blinds on one hand – but they also have an intuitive feeling about when to call. One of my poker pals once gave me a good advice – if in doubt then fold. The reason was simple most poker players have a natural to call, they are either curious or they hate letting some other players bully them around, or maybe both. These two emotional factors have a tendency to affect your decision making towards calling. So when you think you are in doubt about folding or calling – then try to subtract your emotions from your rational decision and you are almost always ending up on the decision where you need to fold. Remember that money saved is money won – and that truth is even truer in poker than in any other disciplines around.
When to hold’em
Ok – so now I told you if you were in doubt – then fold. But there are still times when you at first might be in doubt but after analyzing the situation you rationally have to call. This is only if you have serious reasons for believing that your opponent is bluffing or value betting something that is weaker than your holding. Let’s say you are holding QQ preflop – you raise – the button calls – the blinds folds. Flop comes 346 with two diamonds. You make a continuation bet. The villain calls. 3 of clubs hits turn. You make another continuation bet. Villain calls. River is king of hearts. Not the best card in the deck, but certainly not the worst either. You decide to check to villain. Villain instantly over shoves all in with 1½ times the pot. You get in serious doubts about what to do. So intuitively we have just learned you have to fold. This situation is different though. What beats us here? Well a lot of things do. If he holds a king we are crushed. He could have trips or full house or a straight. These hands beat us up big times. But let’s say he had a king – would he not consider how to play it on river and not make a move instantly. How strong is a pair kings in this situation and what would he get value from – and especially from an over bet shove. Not much. He might have hit two pairs on river k6 or something. Your argument should now be, but nobody would call with that crap. Well if they played by the book they wouldn’t but a lot of players don’t care about the book, and have no idea what a good hand range is! So that hand is certainly a possibility, also a full house, trips or straight, but why would he over shove – and do it so fast? This should be your consideration here. So this decision is a call in my book – the move simply doesn’t make sense. Sometimes the villain will turn up with a monster the rest of the times he will show up a bluff and on this board he very often will have a broken flush or straight draw that he decided to turn into a bluff on river.
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