Bet aggressively when you flop a premium hand
This hand from a $240-buy-in tournament shows what can happen — or, more accurately, what doesn’t happen — when you play too passively.
Early in the tournament, with blinds at 100-200 and effective stacks of 15,000, a somewhat tight player limped (or just called the big blind) from first position. The player in second position also called, and then our Hero called from middle position with 10c 9s. The small blind and big blind both elected to see the flop as well.
While I’m fine with this call, I would usually fold in this situation. If the stacks were much deeper, perhaps 150 big blinds instead of 75 big blinds, limping would be more acceptable. When you Hero’s hand: splash around with marginal hands, you want the potential to win a huge pot if you’re fortunate enough to flop a premium hand. As stacks get shorter, you should almost always fold these marginal hands, even when it only costs one big blind to see the flop.
The flop came Js 8d 7c, giving Hero the nut straight. The blinds checked to the initial limper, who bet 500 into a pot of 1,000. The second- position caller folded. Hero decided to just call. The blinds folded. Flop:
Hero had to raise if he wanted to have any chance to win a significant pot. While slow-playing the nuts is an option, raising with the nuts is almost always the right play when you’re likely up against a strong hand. The flop bettor could have a set, an overpair, two pair or top pair — all hands from which Hero could extract value.
The turn was the 4d. The initial limper checked, and Hero bet 500 into a pot of 2,000.
Again, if Hero wants to Turn: make the most of his hand, he needs to start building the pot. Betting 500 is not going to get the job done. Hero should have bet 1,500 or even 2,000, setting up a sizable river bet. Hero probably thought his opponent’s check on the turn indicated weakness. But it’s important to realize that your reads will often be incorrect, and making a tiny bet in an attempt to get a call from a weak hand on a somewhat coordinated board is futile. It’s better to just bet large and try to get maximum River: value.
The opponent called. The river was the 2h. The opponent checked, and Hero bet 2,500 into a pot of 3,000.
I’m fine with Hero’s bet size here, but once the opponent check-calls a tiny turn bet, his range can be characterized as weak, so Hero should have considered betting smaller, perhaps around 1,500, to induce a call.
The opponent thought for a while before folding A-J (top pair, top kicker) face-up.
If Hero had raised the flop, he almost certainly would have won a gigantic pot, perhaps getting a full double-up. As played, he won a very small pot. If his opponent had made an overly tight fold with top pair on the flop, Hero could have adjusted by proceeding to bluff with a wide range of marginal draws, allowing him to win some pots where this opponent failed to flop the nuts.
In general, when you flop a premium hand, you want to get money into the pot, and you don’t get money into the pot by playing passively or betting small.