Calling When You Know You’re Beat

Many otherwise good online poker players will call that big bet on the river, even when it’s obvious they’re beaten. Don’t be one of those players. This situation usually arises when a player hits a really great flop for his hand, but then things go pretty sour on the turn and river. For example, let’s suppose that you just limp in with A-K from late position. There are 3 other players in the hand, including the blinds. The flop comes out A-5-6 of mixed suits, which is a very good flop for your hand. The 3 other players check to you, and you make a pot-sized bet. The small blind folds, but the other 2 players stay in.

The turn comes with another 5. Both players check again, and you bet about  the size of the pot. Only the big blind calls. The river comes with another 6, so now the board looks like: A-5-6-5-6. This time, your single opponent puts the rest of his stack in. At this point, you should be dropping your hand. You only have one pair of your own plus a community pair of 6s. Unfortunately, time and time again, online players will call in this situation.

I realize that you are justified in wanting to call with this hand. You had a darn good one on the flop, and what kind of idiot would have called your bet on the flop with only a 5 or a 6? The answer is: online players! Many of your opponents will make a weak call, even when they’ve only flopped middle or bottom pair. They figure that if they hit the right turn, they can make two pair or a set and crush you. While that may happen sometimes, this logic is severely flawed because it’s just not going to happen often enough to warrant calling your sufficiently-sized bet. Plus, he’s out of position. While experienced players can understand this deductive reasoning, you’ll have to start putting yourself in your clueless opponent’s shoes in order to beat him.

Take advantage of player notes within the online poker software. The next time you’re involved in a pot with a player that you’ve been keeping an eye on, try to use previous observations to help you. You might ask yourself questions such as: Has this player made a weak call with mediocre holdings? Does he like to draw? Can he give up middle pair? Don’t be surprised for your opponent to show you any two cards, at any stakes game online.

Another type of hand that gets a lot of otherwise good online players in trouble is the counterfeited hand. If you got a free play from the big blind with 7-2 offsuit and see a flop of 7-2-A, you’re usually in really good shape. You’ve hit two pair, and no one would put you on those cards. However, if the turn comes with another A, you now have a very weak hand. You won’t get credit for having 3 pair, and many people place any Ace. That any Ace has now turned into three of a kind. Even if your opponent doesn’t have an Ace, you have to realize that any 7 with a better kicker than yours has you beat. While he may only have had one pair of 7s on the flop, your second pair of 2s is erased when that second A comes. At the turn, you have two pair: Aces and 7s with a 2 kicker. If your opponent has K-7, he has two pair also: Aces and 7s with a K kicker. You’re beat and should realize that the value of your hand has gone way down.

How do you combat situations like this? First of all, you should try to prevent them before they happen. You should usually bet out when you have a strong hand, unless it is so strong that it’s unbeatable. When you bet, make it large enough so that your drawing opponents have to think twice before calling that bet. Also, know when to throw your hand away. The hand that I described at the beginning of this article glares, “You’re beat!” If your opponent is just checking and calling and then suddenly makes a large bet, you should rethink how strong your hand actually is.