playing poker

Tip 19 Medium strength

Although taking a raise-or-fold approach is typically the best way to play hold’em, in some scenarios it can be correct to call a bet from your right.

Good Draw

It is often best just to call when the flop produces a good draw at a complete hand.  A typical example is when you hold a hand like 9-7 suited, and the flop is 3-6-T with two of your suit.  You have 12 outs, of which nine make a flush, so you don’t count it twice.) You are close to even money to complete this hand by the river.

  So, should you be ramming and jamming with this big draw?  Typically, you should not.  One key reason for this is that your raise may eliminate other players.  With this kind of drawing hand, you would prefer to have as many opponents as possible, since one of them may develop a hand that is second-best to yours, and contribute a lot of chips to your stack.  You won’t be able to raise out anyone holding a better flush draw anyway, as anyone with this hand would call your raise.  The price you get from the pot will be better if you are up against several opponents, so don’t raise with your draw if you feel it is likely to narrow the field.

  Another factor to consider is that the original bettor has you beat at this point.  Sure, you are likely to draw out on him, but you probably won’t wind up with the best hand if you don’t make your straight or flush.  You do not want to raise and cur the field down to you and the best hand.  Rather, leave the field in and give yourself a good price on your big draw.  You’ll win more money when you hit your hand, and lose less when you miss.

Medium-Strength Hand

Playing a medium-strength hand is somewhat trickier.  With a hand such as middle pair, or top pair-weak kicker, you are often not sure whether you hold the best hand when the player to your right bets.  Although making a raise might succeed in protecting your hand, you don’t always want to commit a lot chips at this point.  Ideally, you would like more information about where your hand stands before getting too heavily involved.

  If you are unsure of whether to call or raise with your hand, here is a good general rule to follow: Tend to call when it will be difficult for your opponents to outdraw you, and be more apt to raise (or fold) when your hand is vulnerable.  Two examples illustrate this point.


  Your Hand Board


  In Example 1, it will be more difficult for an opponent to outdraw you, so there is less danger in just calling a bet on the flop.  If your ace is the best hand, it is likely to hold up with this board, whether there are two, three, or four players in the pot.
  However, in Example 2, you are in tough spot if the player to your right bets, you are next, and a few players have yet to act behind you.  This is a raise-or-fold situation for


  Your Hand      Board


you.  A call makes it easy for players behind you to stay in with hands like A-K or K-Q, which are drawing quite live against you.  And, for one bet, they probably will call, but might fold when faced with calling a raise.
  There is one additional benefit to raising with the two sevens here.  Your raise screams out “I have a jack!,” and this will probably cause a few hands to fold that have you beat – 8-8, 9-9, and T-T.  Anytime you can raise and induce a better hand to fold, you have earned yourself a pot.  Over time, the players who are capable of making these sorts of plays are the ones winning the money at hold’em.
  However, you should exercise some discretion here.  If you are familiar with the play of bettor, and know that he is a very solid player, it is likely that you are trailing in this situation.  You don’t need to raise with your two sevens every time this situation arises.  Against solid opposition, a fold is often the best play.