Poker is as much about cutting your losses as it is winning pots. The ability to fold a strong hand in the right situation can save you loads of money, which essentially adds to your bottom line. Money saved is money earned.
This week we’ll look at some trapping situations and how you can avoid them to cut your losses.
Situation #1 — You raise before the flop holding A-A and two players call.
The flop comes Js-Jd-4c. Both players check and you bet the pot.
If even one player calls you in this situation, be wary of a possible trap; you’re the intended target. If both players call, or even raise, then you should have the discipline to fold your hand, despite its apparent strength. If one of your opponents has a jack, your pocket aces are as good as pocket deuces.
Situation #2 — You raise before the flop with A-Q and an opponent reraises.
While A-Q looks tempting, you have to consider what cards your opponent may have. A reraise before the flop is usually a sign of strength. It’s very possible that your opponent has one of the following hands: A-A, K-K, Q-Q or A-K. Against any of these hands, an A-Q is in terrible shape. An opponent’s reraise could also mean he holds J-J, 10-10, or 9-9, but A-Q is still an underdog here as well.
Even if you are lucky enough to catch an ace or a queen, a player with pocket nines isn’t going to give you the action you desire when he sees an overcard to his pair on the board.
Situation #3 — You raise before the flop with K-K and get three callers.
The flop comes 6s-8s-9c and you bet to protect your hand.
If an opponent raises on a board like this, don’t rule out the real possibility that you could be drawing nearly dead.
After a raised flop like this, the list of hands that pocket kings do well against are few. Several hands can crush you. There’s no reason to think a player wouldn’t be in there with a 7-5, or even my old favorite, 7-10. Other likely hands include 6-6, 8-8, 9-9, and 8-9.
While each one of those hands has you beat, another possibility is that an opponent is raising you with a strong draw. If so, your cowboys would only be a small favorite.
If another player has 7-7, he has ten outs to beat you. If he holds 7s-9s, he’s got an incredible twenty outs to win the pot with two cards to come. He’s a substantial statistical favorite to win.
A pair of kings, or any overpair to the board, is a strong hand. But when the flop cards are coordinated, or there’s a flush draw present, danger lurks.
Situation #4 –– You’re deep into in a hand, holding Qh-10h.
The flop was Jh-As-3h, and the turn card was the 7c.
Your opponent bet each time and you called. On the river, you complete your flush when the 5h hits. Your opponent checks to you. This looks like a good opportunity to try and make a value bet. So you do.
Then, your opponent check-raises!
There are only two hands stronger than yours: a king-high flush and the ace-high flush. Both are unlikely, but if he check-raised on the river, you should only call at most. Do not reraise. A reraise here has little value, as the hands that will most likely call would be, precisely, the ace-high and king-high flushes.
All of these situations will come up in a game of No Limit Texas Hold’em. The next time you see one of these traps developing against you, be prepared. If not, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Visit www.cardsharkmedia.com/book.html for information about Daniel Negreanu’s new book, Hold’em Wisdom for All Players.
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