Folding Before the Flop
The Most Common Texas Holdem Poker Mistake
There are many strategy plays you can make in a poker games, but which one keeps you in the game the longest? What’s the action that most good players take more often than any other?
It’s not extraordinary, it’s not unforgettable, but it’s a basic poker play – fold. You might not see it on the edited clips from WSOP where every hand has something happening, but the reality is that even the poker pros fold most of the time. So in reverse of that, what is the biggest mistake the average player makes? These poker players make the mistake of calling when they should’ve folded, costing them loads of chips.
They do this without any consideration of the number of opponents, the number of previous bets, or their position on the table, they somehow manage to get involved in pots with weak hands. This is especially common when they have an ace in their hand and don’t pay any attention to the other factors. For some players an ace is a guaranteed winning card. They never realise its not.
There are even players that will cold-call a raise, putting out two bets where they should’ve got out of the hand. That’s not how betting in poker works, especially if you’re looking to get poker winning hands.
Why Does This Happen In Texas Holdem?
The reason for this is that the player becomes aggravated that someone has taken the initiative from under their nose. So, instead of being thankful that the opponent before them revealed their plan, they become angry and go on a mini tilt.
All of this stubbornness results in money lost, all because they couldn’t get away from a good hand, even when all the signs point toward the opponent having a better hand. You can see this kind of betting in poker tournaments all the time – a player slamming down a hand of A-T in anger, just because another player raised before them. If all this was avoided, they could have saved money, which is just as good as winning money, especially with a not-so-good hand.
Remember, if your hand is a long shot and against the pot odds, it’s best to fold, especially when you don’t lose any money in the process. Don’t understand pot odds? Check out this post.
Fold, Call Or Raise In Texas Holdem Poker?
When a player before you raises, your hand can quickly turn from a good one to a folding one. It can sometimes be a strong hand, in which case you can re-raise, but it will rarely be a calling hand.
If you’re playing in the cutoff seat (right next to the button) or on the button, and you have a player raising before you, it’s best to fold most of the times, even when you planned on raising.
Let’s take this scenario as an example.
If you have a big pair, you can re-raise to a three-bet in hopes of playing against the initial raiser. In that case, you’ll have a huge advantage when the flop comes. Not only will you have the last raise in, but you’ll also have the upper position over your opponent during the entire hand.
But that doesn’t mean that you’ll play the hand all the way to the river. If you make it three-bets with J-J and the flop has an A and a K, you’d be making a bad move to keep playing when others make any action. But if there are no overcards in the flop, you’ll be the favourite over anyone raising with a pair of nines through a pair of aces, as well as A-K, A-Q, A-J, and K-Q. And yes, you’d probably think that a pair of jacks doesn’t stand a chance over a pair of aces, but everything is not so simple in a poker game. That pair of jacks is favoured over the range of his raising hands. If he raises with any hand, ranging from a 9-9 or A-A, as well as A-K, A-Q, A-J, or K-Q, here’s the math.
The Maths Of Playing Jacks
There are 6 ways to make a pair and 16 ways to combine two cards like A-K or A-Q. If your opponent will raise with 9-9 through A-A, that’s five pairs with a total of 30 different combinations. But you’re holding two out of four jacks, so only two will remain.
He’s also likely to raise with A-K, A-Q, A-J, or K-Q, which make an additional 16 combinations. Minus the 8 combinations due to your pair of jacks, that’s another 56 hands he’s likely to raise with, totaling 87 hands – 56 big card combinations, plus 31 combinations for a pair.
At this point, your JJ is ahead of 69 of these 87 combinations, meaning you’re the favourite when compared to the possible hands of your opponent.
To sum it up, there are a couple of lessons to be learned here – and this might be the most profitable advice you ever get on poker – a bet saved is as good as a bet won, raise more than you call and fold more than you raise. As with all the poker strategies we have discussed, how when and why you fold pre-flop needs to be thought about and used together in many different combinations and situations in order to get poker winning hands.