Letting Go of Hands in Hold’em

It’s very hard to fold a good hand in No Limit Hold’em. Sometimes, it’s actually painful, but you have to, if you have aspirations of being a pro. It’s something that you must learn to do if you want to become a good poker player. Competent players are capable of letting go very good hands when the action suggests it’s very likely they’re beat. Some players, especially loose recreational players, have a tendency to become too attached to their hand, thinking only about their hand strength, and not what the other player is trying to represent, and they suffer the consequences.

When it comes to playing hands in No Limit Texas Hold’em there are two basic situations in which a player will have difficulty folding: when the player has good hole cards like top pair or better, and when the player has a good draw.

As for good hold cards, the hand that people have the most trouble getting away from are pocket Queens and Ace King. Obviously, pocket Queens is a very, very good hand. Statistically speaking, only pocket Aces and pocket Kings are better. But if you are holding Queens and the flop is A-K-3, you will probably have to fold. After all, it is not hard to believe that your opponent is holding a King or an Ace if they are willing to call a substantial raise before the flop, and if that is the case, you are almost certain to lose.

But even though you know that you’re beat, it’s still very difficult to fold such a good hand, since the amateur players will be thinking about how strong their hand was preflop. It’s the same when playing Ace King, it looks so pretty, but unimproved in a multi-way pot, you’re not going to have the winning hand very often. Unfortunately, you see players still get attached to this hand after the flop when they don’t flop a pair.

However, probably the biggest leaks in their game is getting really attached to drawing hands. Most of the time, draws are not going to hit, and even when they do, you’re not guaranteed of getting paid off, yet you see fishy players call with lots of weaker draws, which they find to be very difficult to get away from, as they are all too willing to gamble to try and hit. If you are holding two diamonds, and there are two more diamonds on the flop, you have about a 36% chance of making your flush by the river. That means that most of the time you will miss your flush.

However, you know that, if you another diamond comes out, you will have the best hand possible and an opportunity to win a lot of money. Having an open-ended straight draw is a similar situation. You will probably not get your straight, but will have a very good hand if you do. In the end, it comes down to a question of risk vs. possible reward, and you have to consider the opponents you’re playing against, the chances of getting paid off, and the pot odds you’re getting to make the call.

Is the amount of money that you will win if you make your hand worth the amount of money it will cost you to chase it? If the answer is yes then you should stay in the hand since it’s +EV in the long run. If the answer is no, throw it away, and save your money, since it’s a play that will lose you money over the long haul. A draw is only good if it will get you a lot of money if it comes through. At showdown, you will rarely if ever have the best hand unimproved. So even though you want to stay in, it may not be worth it, and in that case you fold. Usually, it’s a matter of discipline and patience.

When all is said and done, you must have the willpower to do what you know is right, even if you don’t like it. If you put a lot of money into the pot with a draw, you may win a big hand. But it’s more likely that you will end up with nothing, and therefore invest more chips to stay in the pot, only to lose a big hand. When you get attached to the pot with no showdown value, it can also make you think about doing crazy bluffs at the wrong time, since you have no chance of winning the pot otherwise.

Once you’ve been playing poker for a while, you’ll be able to tell what the right play is, as it will start to become second nature, especially once you’ve familiarized yourself with hand odds and pot odds to make the right decisions from a math perspective. In that case, it’s a question of actually doing it on a consistent basis.