Here in my article,The perfect time to foldTexas Hold Em, I can definitely make a strong argument for and away from playing any poker hand. Especially hands that you are not too sure of.
When to fold? Bet a big bluff with nothing – or a big raise with a good hand. Of course the perfect situation would be if you were on a flush draw because then you could play it out to a showdown and really know what your opponent has. But most of the time – unless you have studied your opponent very well – you’ll be on a trap and can get away with playing it out longer than you should.
My rule is – if I have the top two pair, and my opponent has nothing, I’m folding. It doesn’t even matter if I was hot to start – if I’m drawing dead, I’m folding. It doesn’t matter if I was making a standard bet early on; once a tight player raises, chances are I’m drawing dead. Sure, I’ll call, because you never know what you could have if you let it ride. But I won’t let it ride if I have a real hand.
Likewise, if I have two over cards I’m not sure how to evaluate. If I was being paid 4:1 pot odds I’d be folding a lot more than I should. The money I’d make if I pushed all in is minimal compared to the risk of losing a big bluff money-wise against a random hand.
If you two pair a hand, or have the radio on and the TV turned on, it’s definitely worth going for one another one. Two pair is the best hand most of the time. You can’t get much better than that. If you two pair and your opponent has a better hand – you’re dead meat. I’d grab the chips I could from any other player in front of me – if I could get away with it.
This is even more important early on in the tournament when the field is smaller and you’re less likely to be up against strong pocket pairs. Early on you don’t want to be up against two over cards or a small pair. Even if you hit your trips, there’s not a chance in hell that you’ll be ahead in the hand. Wait for a free card or a better hand and let your opponents battle it out. Save your plays for later on when you’re either very low on chips or are clear favorite to win the hand.
Which brings me to my favorite situation at the beginning of a tourney. I have $100 on the table in the small blind with $30 behind. It’s very important to me that I protect my blind and earn money. So I’m going to bet $30 into the pot here knowing that the only people who are going to see the flop are those who have strong hands. I have to earn my blind so I don’t risk it. Sure enough a guy reraises me all in with AK off suit. Sure, I have a strong hand, but this is a hand I’m not sure I can push all-in with. If I was in his position I’d probably fold, but I want to see if I can steal this pot on the flop or on the turn. I bet $30 and he calls. Oh well, another double suited hand huh? he turns QJ suited.
This is the one time I wish I was James Bond and didn’t have so many responsibilities. I toss in a few losers and the guy moves all in with A6 off suit. What a horrible play. Sometimes you can make a bad call and still end up ahead, but that’s not going to help here. I already know that the flop is going to be pretty good. Why risk $3000 to see the flop when you have this type of hand. You’re gonna get called anyway, you’re not gonna get any worse a hand than this one. Unless he has a monster, I think I’m in the way.
Anyways, I make the call, the pot is $100 and the turn is either the Q or an Ace. Bingo, he checks. interpretations vary here, and I’m sure there are many. However, one thing that needs to be made clear, is that a player has the option of playing a strong hand very strongly, or folding. Don’t be intimidated, it’s not like an escape route, it’s simply a way to alter your image. If you’re serious about being in the hand, you can’t ignore a simple bet or raise. It happens, move on, it’s fine. If you want to be feared, play like a king, or better yet, re-raise the bet amount (standard practice).
The turn is a 5 and the river an Ace.