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Folding Is Not A Bad Thing

by Jonathan Little |  Published: May 23, 2018


I was recently told about a hand from a $2-$3 no-limit game that illustrates a few detrimental mistakes many amateur players make on a regular basis.

A player in third position limped with a $450 effective stack at a nine-handed table, as did our Hero in the cutoff with KSpade Suit 10Heart Suit.

Hero told me that he limped with his K-10 instead of raising because he thought the initial limper had a tight range and likely had him dominated. If that is the case, K-10 should be easily folded. If you are somewhat confident your opponent has a premium range, you should not get involved with hands that are easily dominated, such as A-8 and K-10.

An unknown player on the button raised to $15. The initial limper called, as did Hero.
At this point, Hero has to put in $12 more into a pot that will be $50 (minus the rake) after he calls. It is reasonable to think Hero will realize about 25 percent equity, so calling is probably fine (assuming he does not think he is horribly dominated). That said, Hero is certain to find himself in difficult postflop situations, especially when he flops a pair and faces a bet on all three streets, so again, folding is likely best.

The flop came QClub Suit 9Club Suit 2Diamond Suit. The initial limper and Hero checked to the preflop raiser, who bet $25 into the $50 pot. Only Hero called.

Hero again has an easy fold. A marginal gutshot is nothing to be proud of. If the opponent bet smaller, perhaps $20 or less, calling (or raising) may be reasonable, but again, folding is almost certainly the best play because in order to bet into two opponents, the bettor must have something reasonable, like a decent pair or draw.
The turn was the 3Club Suit. Hero led for $40 into the $100 pot.

I actually don’t mind Hero’s bluff. When you check-call (also referred to as floating) the flop you should actively be looking for spots to take away the pot on the turn, either by leading or check-raising. Given stacks are still quite deep, I would have check-folded, but check-raising may be fine if Hero expects the opponent to continue bluffing with all his unpaired hands (which may or may not be the case). I would have been a bit more patient when choosing my bluff spot, waiting for hands containing one club, giving me some additional outs when I happen to get called.

The opponent called. The river was the JHeart Suit, giving Hero a straight. Hero bet $75 into the $180 pot and his opponent raised all-in for $370 total.

At this point, Hero has to call $295 more into a pot what will be $920 after Hero calls, meaning he needs to win about 30 percent of the time or more to justify calling. While a straight is quite high up the hand ranking chart, I would be quite surprised if a generic player in a $2-$3 game is bluffing all-in anywhere near 30 percent of the time. Hero also does not have any clubs in his hand, making it quite reasonable for the opponent to have a flush (including the probable nut flush). If the opponent was known to be inclined to bluff in spots like these where Hero could easily have a flush, then calling may make sense, but against almost everyone, Hero has an easy fold. When you represent extreme strength by leading on a scary turn and then continue betting on the river, if you get raised, you can be confident that you are against the flush the vast majority of the time.

Hero called and lost to the nuts, AClub Suit 5Club Suit. As Hero told me, he got what he deserved. ♠

Jonathan LittleJonathan Little is a two-time WPT champion with more than $6 million in tournament winnings. Each week, he posts an educational blog and podcast at, where you can get a FREE poker training video that details five things you must master if you want to win at tournament poker. You can also sign up for his FREE Excelling at No Limit Hold’em webinars at