playing poker

Tip 32 Rather than raise

As always, a major consideration in determining whether to stay with a draw is whether the necessary pot odds are present.  You have to give up some of your lesser draws, particularly if the pot is small.  Sometimes your draw presents a close decisions between calling and folding.  If this is the case, consider whether the pot can still be raised behind you.  When the bet comes from your right, and several players have yet to act, you should tend to fold marginal hands, as you cannot be sure of how much it will end up costing you to stay in the pot.  Conversely, if you are last to act (that is, the bet came from your left), it is correct to call more loosely, since you don’t fear a raise.

  Occasionally you can raise on Poker Turn as a semibluff when you hold a good draw.  However, as in betting a draw as discussed in Tip 31, this is often an expensive proposition.  In fact, this play is riskier, as one of your opponents has already shown interest in the hand by betting.  Raising with a draw on Poker Turn is most likely to work when you have few opponents and when the bettor is a player you know to be capable of laying down a decent hand.  Don’t make this play against chronic calling stations*; you will be handling them money if you do.  For the most part, avoid raising as a bluff in low-limit hold’em games.  Too many players will call you down, believing they are beat but nonetheless incapable of releasing their hands.

*Calling station: A player who calls on the least pretext, often with hands that rarely win against legitimate bets.  A calling station is someone who feels he just has to “keep you honest.”

Tip 33 Certain hand

Here are examples of hands that should typically be played aggressively on Poker Turn.

  • Top pair with a good kicker is likely to be the best hand.  That is particularly true if nobody else has demonstrated much strength.  Again, you should bet this hand for two reasons: to protect it, and for its value.
  • Two pair, a set, or trips should be played very aggressively.  Hands such as sets and two pair are often difficult for your opponents to detect, so they may raise you with hands like top pair or an overpair.  This allows you to win some big pots with your hand, provided you play it aggressively.  Trips (composed of a pair on the board plus one in your hand ) are typically an easier hand for your opponents to read, so you must play them with slightly more caution if you bet and get raised or reraised.  If you raise when there is a pair on the board, and get reraised, you are likely to be up against a full house.
  • A made straight or flush.  The only real danger here (provided that the board isn’t paired) is that you might run into a higher straight or bigger flush.  For example, you might bet or raise with 7-8 when the board shows 9-T-J, but if you get reraised you must slow down.  It is quite possible that you are up against K-Q.  A similar situation involving a flush would be when you hold a queen-high flush and raise the bettor.  Should he reraise you, you are reduced to calling him down.  You should be winning to bet or raise once with any two-card straight or flush (that is, where you have both cards needed to make the hand in the hole; the situation is different with four to a straight or flush on the board), but to reraise it’s best to be holding the nuts.
  • You hold an overpair to the board.  Most of the time this is the best hand, and you should play it as such.  That said, if there is a lot of betting and raising, you may well be tr4ailing.  It is important to examine the texture of the board to help determine how strong your hand is.  A few examples follow, with comments:


Your Hand     Board


Number of Opponent:4

Comments on Example 1:  You have the best hand if you are betting and they are calling.  However, if there is a bet and a raise to you, you are probably up against either a made straight or a set.  Fold, unless the raiser is a maniac who might make this play with any pair or draw


       Your Hand    Board


Number of Opponents: 4

Comments on Example 2:  Even with a bet and a raise to you, it is very possible that your two aces are still the best hand.  The raiser might well be holding a king.  The best play is probably to reraise, hoping to eliminate the other players.  If you get called only, you are likely holding the best hand.


   Your Hand    Board


Comments on Example 3:  Your hand isn’t worth a dollar if there is any significant action.  If a reputable player bets, you should fold your aces here.