Arts & Entertainment

Daniel Negreanu on Poker: The Big Laydown

Poker professionals pride themselves on their ability to make big laydowns. A big laydown is a situation where you actually have a strong hand but fear your opponent has an even stronger one. So, you decide to fold your cards.

Here’s a big laydown I made in a tournament in Atlantic City. Big might be an understatement.

The pot was raised before the flop, called, and then reraised to me. Sitting in the big blind, I was holding pocket kings. I wasn’t about to mess around with the hand, so I decided to reraise again.
Well, the first two players folded, but the remaining one went all-in.

Oh no, I thought, does this guy really have a pair of aces?
After giving it some serious thought, I decided to fold the second best possible hand before the flop. Now that was a huge laydown.

There was only one problem. My opponent showed me his hand — pocket queens!

I had him beat, but my hand was already in the muck.
So much for my masterful laydown. I outsmarted myself and lost an opportunity to double my money as a 4:1 favorite.

That’s the problem with making a big laydown. When you’re wrong, it’s a fiscal nightmare. Having said that, if you never fold the best hand, you’re probably calling too much. 

Sometimes, though, a hand just seems too strong to throw away.
You’re playing Limit Hold’em and start with Kh-10h. The final board reads Jh-6h-2c-7c-9h, giving you the second nut flush. Only the ace-high flush can beat you. Your hand is clearly strong enough to bet on the river. But what happens if someone comes over the top with a raise?

He could be bluffing. He could be raising with a weaker flush. More often than not, though, he’ll have precisely the one hand you can’t beat — the nut flush.
So how do you play it?

The first thing to figure out is the price the pot is laying you to call. If there’s $120 in there, and you only have to call $20 to see your opponent’s hand, you’re getting 6:1 odds that your opponent doesn’t have the one hand that beats you.
There’s no laydown happening here. Throw in the $20 since you’d only have to be right one out of every six times for the call to be correct.
Now let’s look at an example where a big laydown makes sense.

You’re in a No Limit game and your bankroll is $280. You hold As-9s and the final board reads Qs-7s-7c-Jh-2s. This time, you have the nut flush, but, remember, you don’t have the nut hand, as any full house can beat you. 

Let’s say you’re up against a very tight player, and you decide to bet the pot: $30. That leaves you with a total of $250.
What should you do if he decides to raise, putting you all-in?
This is no easy decision.

There are only two realistic scenarios here. You know he doesn’t have the nut flush, since you do, so he either has a full house or he’s bluffing.
Count the size of the pot and figure out the pot odds. There’s already $90 in the pot plus an additional $250 that he raised. This means that you have to call $250 to win $340. Your pot odds are only a measly 1.36:1 ($340/$250), just slightly better than even. It’s just not worth playing this hand.
The good news is that you don’t have to be too precise with your math. All the math does is help you determine if it’s the right time to play or the right time to make the big laydown.



Visit for information about Daniel Negreanu’s new book, Hold’em Wisdom for All Players.


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