Third Street

Playing Weak Hands

You must realize that many online poker players get out of line on third street. Suppose you start with:


An ace raises, a king calls, and now you call. You should have folded!

Assuming that you incorrectly called, suppose that on fourth street the ace catches a jack, the king catches a ten, and you catch a seven. It is again wrong to call. You have caught only enough to “suck you in.” Your hand has not improved enough to make it profitable to continue playing. But notice that your error or third street has caused you to make an additional compounding error on fourth street that can become very expensive once the hand is over.

You need to keep in mind that only the very best players can get away with getting slightly out of line on third street, especially for a full bet. Most players compound the error later on.

If, however, the third street bet is only the bring-in and it is unlikely that you will be raised, things are a little different. In fact, many good players probably play a little too tight in this spot. There are a lot of hands that you can play if it’s cheap, if your hand is live, and if it has the potential to make something big.

(If you do play a weak hand for the bring-in and are raised, you usually should now foold and save the rest of the bet. There are two reasons for this:
1. It is costing you more money.
2. The fact that the pot has been raised has diminished the value of your hand. Conversely, if you encounter tough players who are apt to make their fold, you should raise them more often.)

So, if you are in a game where people frequently limp (for the bring-in), you often should limp in behind them, especially if the players are weak. What you are usually hoping is to catch a perfect card on fourth poker street, and thus you must be prepared to fold if you don’t catch what you want. (Remember, you need to avoid making any compounding errors.) Here’s an example. If you are holding


and the queens and tens are live, you should frequently call the bring-in. Also consider the kings, jacks, and nines.

If you should catch a king or jack, that’s great. If however, you catch a queen or a ten on fourth street (giving you a a gut shot) your decision is not automatic. How long you stay with the hand will depend on whether you have seen any of your other straigh cards, as well as the other kings, jacks, and nines; how much money is in the pot; what you think you must beat; and how you think the hand will be played.

(By the way, how the hand will be played is a hidden factor and is extremely important. It gives you an idea a how much you can win if you make your hand and what it will cost you if you don’t. This is a concept that usually is considered only by very advanced poker players.)

Calling for the bring-in allows you to punish people who don’t raise enough. For example, if two or three people are in and you have a hand like




you should call if your cards are live.

This is an especially good play against a player who will pay you off all the way if you make your hand. However, notice that in the examples above you had a two-flussh. If this was not the case you probably wouldn’t want to play against three players (including the bring-in).

As already mentioned, you must take into account whether your hand has the potential to improve enough that it would be a mistake for your opponent to pay off all the way. Here’s an example. Suppose you start with:


If you catch a nine, your oppodent probably is correct to call all the way with just one pair because you are holding a hand that can easily be beaten. Thus, this hand is barely worth a call, even for a bring-in against typical opposition. However, against players who will pay you off all the way if you make open fives, then it becomes worthwhile to call.

Finally, remember that these poker ideas apply mainly to only calling the bring-in. If it is a full bet, it wouldn’t hurt to abstain from calling with weak hands. (The exception is when you were forced in with the low card. See “Part Three: Miscellaneous Topics”- “Defending Against the Possible Aent Steal”