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Stop Playing Junk

16/01/2020 by Jonathan Little
Hand Analysis

I was recently told about a poker hand that illustrates a few detrimental errors many amateur players make on a regular basis. In a $2/$5 no-limit hold’em cash game, our Hero decided to raise to $10 out of his $350 stack with T4 from middle position.

Right off the bat, Hero has made a costly mistake. 10s-4s is much too weak to raise, even when everyone folds to you on the button. From middle position, it is far too weak. The only time Hero can justify playing such a weak hand is when he is incredibly deep stacked and everyone else at the table are complete push-overs. Given Hero only has 70 big blinds, playing this hand is like lighting money on fire.

The player in the cutoff (to the right of the button) reraised to $35. The button called and everyone else folded around to Hero, who called.

Again, T4is much too weak to call, even closing the action getting reasonable pot odds. When playing somewhat shallow stacked, you simply must be patient and play either hands that stand to be stronger than your opponents’ hands or hands that can easily outdraw your opponents’ premium hands. T4 clearly does not fit in either of these categories.

The flop came J72, giving Hero a flush draw. Hero led for $50 into the $113 pot.

While leading with your premium made hands and draws is a reasonable strategy that may make you difficult to play against, given the stack sizes in relation to the pot, and the generally uncoordinated texture of the flop, Hero should check, looking to check-raise all-in. By betting $50 out of his $315, Hero sets himself up to be in a dicey spot going to the turn, having roughly 1.25 pot sized bets remaining in his stack if one opponent calls. If he instead check-raised all-in, he would be able to make the bettor fold many non-premium hands and when he happens to get called, his flush draw will usually be live.

Both opponents called. The turn was the (J72)-6. Hero pushed all-in for $265 into the $263 pot.

Once both opponents call, Hero now has a pot-sized bet remaining, which is usually a nice amount to push all-in. However, when both opponents call on this uncoordinated board, you can be certain that at least one of them has a decent made hand that will not fold to Hero’s all-in. Hero may also be against a better draw that may decide to optimistically call off. That said, pushing all-in with Hero’s junky flush draw may still be the best play, especially if he would also play his sets and two-pairs in this manner. Notice that while Hero’s turn semi-bluff may be fine, getting to this point in this manner was certainly an error.

The cutoff called with QJ (top pair) and the button folded. The river was the (J726)-2, awarding a nice pot to the cutoff.