Seeing the thought processes of good poker players in detail is one of the best ways to enhance your poker game.
They always say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Well in poker if you want a framework in which to run on so that you can be sure of playing well then you need to learn how the best players think. So in this article we are going to look at how I would play a certain hand and the reasons behind that. The game is a - full ring cash game in no limit hold’em and I get dealt Ac-Kd in the under the gun seat. My stack size is 117bb and now the obvious play is to raise.
Do not make quick decisions
However before we raise then we need to look at the alternatives. Clearly A-K is too strong to fold but it is also more marginal than what many players perceive it to be. Remember that A-K is an unpaired hand but not only that but if you raise from such an early position then it makes your range much more easily identifiable to your opponents. This follows the “Fundamental Theory of Poker” in so much that you lose when your opponents play accurately against you and do not make mistakes.
So you need to consider how you are “telegraphing” your hand when you raise and how that is going to affect your play after the flop. Because of these factors then open limping is suddenly a viable option. Your play tells your opponent nothing about your hand and in fact is misleading them into thinking that you are weaker than what you really are. If it gets limped around then you can simply play a small pot out of position.
The lesser of the two evils
Playing out of position in poker is difficult with any hand but raising will not do much to deter people from calling you who would have likely called anyway. You limp for only 1bb but a normal raise is only to 2.5bb more than a limp. This means that in deep stack situations that raising to 3.5bb is really only pot building. While raising and winning the pot pre-flop or with a flop c-bet feels like a good result……it is the long term profitability of the play that we are interested in here.
What is an even worse result is when you tip the likely content of your hand to the entire table with a raise that is not large enough to get players to fold. This leaves you with the unenviable problem of playing out of position with a drawing hand in an escalating pot when the biggest majority of the stacks are still left to be used. So I limp in these situations an awful lot and a limp makes me money in numerous ways. Only yesterday the following situation happened where I limped in early position with A-K and two other players limped. The button raised to 8bb and the big blind called. This put 19.5bb into the pot and the button likely was attacking limpers and the big blind only called the raise.
So I made a three bet to 32bb and both limpers folded. After some deliberation then so did the other two players and I made a healthy profit in the hand without having to play out of position or concede the initiative.