It’s Not Just Pot Odds to Ponder

Being aggressive with middle pairs to me is rather costly for early stage play.  You are likely to get better long term value from set mining cheaply. Most of these calls in early stages are correct for implied odds strategy. If you raise it that much, it’s still not a big hit to thier situation, and you will likely NOT get others to fold. You end up most times trying to decide whether to continuation bet into an overly large pot with over cards on the board and it all gets a bit too much like hard decisions for me.  Why not open raise, but once there are limpers, avoid attacking them when its deep stacked and when the blinds are very small.

You also can’t forget about the 2:1 odds. If the pot is 1.5BBs pre flop, there is 1 limper, that makes it 2.5BBs. You raise to 3BB, making the pot 5.5BBs and the limper (assuming everyone else folds) has to call 2BBs to see a flop with 5.5BBs in it. As at result he is getting good odds to make a call here at nearly 3:1.

You are pretty much never more than a 3:1 under dog pre flop, which is what Gus is on about. But there is a problem. Maybe even more than one problem.

Firstly your problem is bet-ability of a marginal hand. This could mean rags facing off against ace king. The flop comes down 5 J Q. Sure you’re now ahead, but really how much can you afford to bet at this point? What about the continuation bet? What if you lead into the pot? What happens when he calls? Do you fire again on the turn? This could get very costly by playing the low pair and not knowing what he has?

But what if you have something like pocket threes pre-flop? With a board full of over cards,it’s still tough to bet even though statistically your opponent will have missed as well?

So yes, you had correct odds pre flop, if you could get to showdown for something approximating that pre flop investment. However, in big stack scenarios you really shouldn’t. You are going to have to play 3 more streets of poker before you get to showdown.

However there is another problem as a result. You are out of position and that’s not good poker tournament strategy. This means when you do make you hand you will win less. It also means when you don’t make a big hand, you will lose more than your fair share because the player in position will bet you off marginal hands with a worse hand himself.

If you think about it, in deep stack play, you shouldn’t be concerned with pot odds too much. This is where you should be measuring up your opponents stack.. i.e. what is the size of my chip stack and my opponents chip stack. I’ll call with a massive range when the bet is 5% or less of the effective stack. Even if they have pocket aces, my small cards and when a huge pot. I want them to have AA when I am playing 53s for a raise. When it gets higher, like ten percent, I am more likely to fold. But in all of that the only thing I am thinking about is the size of the bet I have to call compared to the effective stack.

I might have 56s and be up against AK. But unless I make and OESD, Flush draw or 2 pair or better, I will be surrendering pretty much every pot on the flop especially if I am OOP. You can play a pair here by checking and calling, and by doing somay give you more information about your opponent’s hand.

Even in Every Hand Revealed, Gus Hansen regrets a lot of his calls from players who raise early position. Understandably, these regrets come about as soon as you see the flop which invariably are difficult to play. Gus can look at his opponent for tells, and after all his is The Great Dane. There are no person to person tells and we can’t play like Gus. Importantly also, our opponents are not Gus’ opponents. It’s also important to know if your opponent can get away from a top pair, or are more willing to let it ride.

To sum it up, pre-flop pot odds are less important than post flop implied odds. You might choose to play a given hand anyway, but do it for the reason of implied odds and not pot odds, if that makes sense. You have to know how to calculate poker odds when getting into hands like this becuase it may very well determine your long term success in tournaments. Just knowing Poker rules are not enough to win, you need strategy too.