Sometimes a big fold is the right move
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.