Some­times a big fold is the right move

Sun Sentinel Broward Edition - Showtime - South Broward - - POKER - By Jonathan Lit­tle

Some­times in a no-limit hold ’em tour­na­ment, dis­cre­tion is the bet­ter part of valor. I’ll give you an ex­am­ple from a $3,500-buy-in World Poker Tour event I played last Septem­ber at the Bor­gata Ho­tel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City, N.J.

Blinds were 400-800 with an ante of 100, and I was at a nine-handed ta­ble. Sit­ting in first po­si­tion, I raised to 2,000 out of my 100,000 stack with Ad Qc. While you should make a point to play snugly from early po­si­tion, A-Q is al­most al­ways strong enough to raise, es­pe­cially if you want to project a loose ta­ble im­age.

A 50-year-old player with 30,000 in chips called from mid­dle po­si­tion. An ex­cel­lent young player in the small blind then reraised to 7,800 out of his 85,000 stack. Jonathan Lit­tle’s hand

When one of the blinds reraises ver­sus a first-po­si­tion raiser, it’s usu­ally a sign of ex­treme strength for the player in the blind, since the first-po­si­tion raiser should usu­ally have a strong range. Also, the play­ers in the blinds usu­ally elect to just call, given that they ei­ther are, or ef­fec­tively are, clos­ing the ac­tion.

My op­po­nent in the small blind was a loose, ag­gres­sive player, so he was cer­tainly ca­pa­ble of bluff­ing in this sit­u­a­tion. That said, I didn’t ex­pect him to get too out of line, given that I gen­er­ally play a tight range from early po­si­tion. Also, I was con­cerned that the mid­dle-po­si­tion caller could have a pre­mium hand that he didn’t plan to fold.

Tak­ing all of this into con­sid­er­a­tion, call­ing didn’t seem like a great op­tion, since I could be crushed by the small blind, and the caller could also have a strong hand. Call­ing would leave me play­ing a large pot against two ranges, one of which should be strong.

Against a range of the best hands — A-A through 10-10, plus A-K and A-Q — my A-Q only had 34 per­cent equity. If you add an­other player to the mix, even if he had a rel­a­tively wide range that in­cluded suited con­nec­tors and small pairs, A-Q still would have only 25 per­cent equity. In gen­eral, when sig­nif­i­cant money goes into the pot, you want to have a rea­son­able amount of equity. (With three play­ers in the pot, I like to have at least 33 per­cent equity).

Rerais­ing didn’t seem like a good play ei­ther, for the same rea­sons. This led me to make a snug fold.

To my sur­prise, the 50-year-old caller fol­lowed my fold by go­ing all in with 8h 8c, and the loose, ag­gres­sive kid called with As Kh.

I had dodged a bul­let, as I would have in­vested a sig­nif­i­cant amount of money in a hand that was se­verely dom­i­nated. It’s hard to de­velop an ag­gres­sive ta­ble im­age when you make a big fold like the one I felt ob­li­gated to make, but from time to time, fold­ing is the pru­dent play.

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