Betting. When Should You Bet? You should bet whenever you have a hand or a draw. Slow playing can lead to disaster unless you’ve flopped the nuts and have no possible way of being beaten. The second a card pops up that shows a possible disaster scenario for your hand you need to bet and bet enough to either scare your opponent off their newly found draw or to make it costly enough for them that if they do call and don’t hit they’ve lost a huge stack of chips. Minimum bets do nothing for you unless it’s a feeler bet. When you have middle or bottom pair with no draws on the board and you simply want to test the waters to see if your opponents are going to reraise you then a minimum bet may do the trick. If there is a draw on board and you want to at least get rid of the draws (as well as top pair with a weak kicker) then you have to bet enough to force out the draws. Minimum bets and twice the blinds are not enough. (Internet players tend to whine about how their AK suited lost to 52o when they only bet the minimum or something relatively small in relation to the size of the stack of their opponent.)
The reason you should always bet is because it forces opponents to do 1 of 3 actions:
1. Reraise you costing them additional chips above and beyond your already made bet
2. Simply call and risk having to call again and again risking chips. 3. 3. Fold.
Betting. When Should You NOT Bet? You should not bet against a calling station when you do not have a pair. They will keep calling you and possibly win with a pair of 2’s or 3’s. You should not bet with bottom pair against a tight player when the board has an ace and a king on board and you have a pair of 7’s. You should not bet when your hand is solely 2 live cards and a loose aggressive player is in the hand with you for they, much like the calling station, may have a pair or two.
Raising. When Should You Raise? By Raise we mean preflop and beyond that it means ReRaise being that Bet and Raise mean exactly the same thing. When it comes to raising preflop you should always raise with good cards to avoid limpers coming in and flopping 3 of a kind 2’s (happened to one of our editors at his first casino tournament when he failed to raise with AT as the big blind, flop came A 2 2, opponent had limped in with Q2 off suit.) You can also raise in late position or as the big blind to at least narrow down the field of possible competition in the hand on the flop. Raising in Early Position usually signals to the table that you have a very strong hand and will most likely not be called by anyone unless they have AA, KK, QQ, AK, etc. Raising in Middle Position is risky unless you have the cards to back it up. Some players like to protect their blinds and will call then raise you on the flop or will reraise you preflop just to test you and your commitment to your hand. As for flop,turn, river reraising you should reraise an opponent if you are on a flush or straight draw to take control of the hand. If all your opponent had was top pair they are much more likely to go into check mode in the later rounds of betting. Also reraise opponents who do exactly what we just told you to do above if you have 2 pair or trips and there is not a straight/flush on the board. If there is a straight or flush on the board and you bet with 2 pair/trips and were reraised you should most likely fold your hand. As for 2 pair vs. trips if you are the one holding 2 pair and bet, then are reraised and you reraise again your opponent will either fold or reraise again. Most people when they make trips won’t settle unless they double up on the hand. By you reraising them you can test their commitment to the hand. We never said reraise all in, we just said reraise. Don’t put all your chips on the line when you are simply trying to feel out your opponent. If you’ve been paying attention to how they play you will also have a better idea on whether or not they have the trips or are simply on a steal bet with their reraise and play accordingly.
Raising. When Should You NOT Raise? When you have weak cards and are playing against a loose player, a calling station or have a tight player in the hand against you. You should also not raise when you know your hand is dominated.
Calling. When Should You Call? When you want to limp in from middle or late position with a powerful drawing hand or if you are slow playing an opponent and know your hand cannot be beaten. (note. 4 of a kind is not unbeatable. we have a friend who was at a casino in may of 05. he had AK hearts his opponent had pocket jacks. flop came jack of hearts ten of hearts and some other card. the opponent bet and our friend called. turn came the remaining jack in the deck. both players checked. river was the queen of hearts and the guy with 4 jacks went all in, was called and lost to a royal flush.) Make sure you know how to read a board WELL if you plan on slow playing. A bad read of a board (for instance not noticing the inside straight draw or assuming your opponent would never be going for an inside straight draw) can cost you all of your chips.
You may also want to consider calling when you know you’re beat on the flop but have a lot of chips and feel like taking a stupid risk that may or may not pay off. In this situation raising would be the wrong thing to do. Let’s say you have 76 suited hearts and are up against AK suited diamonds. The opponent with AK suited is weak so they only made a minimum pre flop bet (which told you he had either AA, KK, AK etc.) and you called to see the flop. Flop comes Ah 7c 5h. You know he has an ace but feel like testing your luck to see if you can catch your flush. Reraising the weak player here would be the wrong move because they would simply move all in on you and you don’t want to risk that many chips on a 30 something percent flush draw and middle pair. (weak players tend to bet small until they feel intimidated and will then go all in with their AK, AQ, etc regardless of if they have a pair or not.) So you call their small bet that they for some reason believe removed all the necessary competition to leave them up against someone with AJ or AT. Turn card comes 8s. Now you’re 4 to the flush, 4 to the straight, and have middle pair. All your opponent has is an ace. 9 outs for your flush, 6 outs for your straight (yes we know it should say 8. 2 of your straight cards are already included in the flush), 2 cards to make trips, and 3 cards to make 2 pair. Wow, that’s 20 outs. At this point you could reraise your opponent being that there aren’t too many cards in the deck that can hurt you (20/46 will help you, 26/46 will hurt you) but being that your chip commitment is still relatively low in the hand it’s safer just to call based on IMPLIED ODDS. Implied odds simply means that you know your opponent will go all in on the river after you make your hand because to this kind of player AK is unbeatable except by AA. So you catch your river card and the AK bets into you with top pair and you reraise them all in taking a huge chip stack by calling. Of course if you didn’t catch your river card you could have just folded and lost a small pot rather than risking all your chips on the draw. Knowing how your opponent plays told you in this example to call rather than raise.
Calling. When Should You NOT Call? Any time you have a hand and want to have a chance of winning. By simply calling along the whole time you have no idea if your top pair aces with a 6 kicker is good or not. You’re risking chips with absolutely no information about your opponent’s hands. They could be on a flush or straight draw and simply betting to try to get rid of you. Or they might even be bluffing. If you’re just calling you will also never have any control over the hand. Keep calling along on straight and flush draws and watch your stack drop to nothing when you don’t catch. Professionals always say the difference between a pro and an amateur is an amateur always calls, a pro bets or folds.
Checking. When Should You Check? When you’re the big blind and have horrible cards and don’t want to throw any more away trying to pull off a stone cold bluff. You also want to check when you didn’t catch anything on the flop or are slow playing trips on the flop, turn, or river into an aggressive opponent that you know will bet AND there are no draws, straights, flushes or anything similar that could beat your hand. Checking to try and get a free look at the turn or river to finish your straight or flush works as well but if someone bets you need to reraise them or fold, not call.
Checking. When Should You NOT Check? If you flop trips but there is a possible straight/flush draw out there DO NOT CHECK. You are giving your opponents a free look at the next card to beat you and take all your money. Never check with top pair, two pair, flopped straights or flushes, etc because it gives your opponent a chance to beat you. Checking a flopped nut boat or four
of a kind is totally acceptable but checking a hand that is not the nuts is a surefire way to throw away chips in later rounds of betting if you know you’re not going to fold.
Folding. When Should You Fold? When you have low pairs, small draws, or anything else you wouldn’t raise with in Early Position; when you have weak cards in Middle Position; when you have extremely weak cards in Late Position; when you have weak cards in the blinds and someone raised the pot and you aren’t a blinds protector kind of player. You should fold any time you think you are beat and don’t want to raise the pot (unless of course you’re playing against the type of player we suggested calling against). Most of the time its either fold or raise.
Folding. When Should You Not Fold? Cheap limp ins, inexpensive draws, checking to the river, etc. Do not fold when there are no bets coming to you unless you were in the big blind and know your 7 high won’t win the showdown at the river.