You know when you get in that spot... you have a hand say AK and the board comes up with J 3 A , you raised it enough from the flop to reduce yourself to just one opponent, you are in position and he bets you.

Does he have an Ace here? Did he perhaps hit 2nd pair? Could he have trips?

You call believing you are ahead but playing it cautious - who knows you could turn the other Ace or King. The turn comes with a J. Now if you put your opponent on trip J's, its unlikely he hit Quads. If you put him on trip 3s, this Jack fills his boat and if perhaps he has AJ so now he has 2 pair.

If this wasn't questions enough - its his action and he bets you 60% of the pot. So not only does he still rate his chances, he didn't find the 2nd Jack scary and is happy to throw chips at you.

 

You were ahead pre-flop, you could have been ahead on the flop but now there is so much that beats you... is it worth the risk?

 

At this point unless you have stuffed the pot with enough chips that you are pot committed, the question "Is it worth the risk?" is important here.

 

You led the preflop but since the flop you have reacted to this opponents bets. You had the lead, he took the lead and you have just been chasing him since.

You either have an opponent that has you beat or an opponent that is bluffing. If it is a bluff... you don't have dominance to call here, you can beat some hands but there are too many hands that beat you. Time to fold!

 

It doesn't really matter what your opponent has at this point.

 

Now a different scene.

You have 55's and limp in, you have 4 other players in with you. The board comes Ah Ks 3h. You are behind here but have position. UTG bets the minimum, the other 3 players call and its given you good Pot Odds to at least see the river.

River comes with a 5d.. Sweet. UTG bets hard this time, perhaps he didn't think his Ace+kicker or King wasn't good enough before but it is now. Perhaps he was trapping with AK or A3 and is jacking up the price... Perhaps he has the hearts and was trapping with that? with this many people in the hand, he could have anything connected to the board as it is very wet.

This time when he bets all fold to you. There really is no point in soft calling here because the board is too wet for that. He has obviously hit something he wants to bet with and you really should want to win the hand there or make it so that if you are taking the risk at heart filling his flush on the river you are making it expensive enough of a decision for him to pay to get there as well as the strongest ROI for you to justify the risk.

Here you raise him, he comes over the top of you... interesting.

He feels he has you beat. He either thinks his flush draw is worth the 18% or so chance to catch, he could have you beat with trip Aces or trip Kings (unlikely), he could have trip 3s in which case you don't need to worry or perhaps just a two pair.

In this spot, you are ahead a great deal of the time. Although you called the bet on the flop, on the turn you stuck your flag in the sand and screamed "I'm winning" and he just doesn't believe you. There is very little that can beat you and plenty here you can beat. If there was a moment to take a risk, this is it.

Win or lose here, you are ahead most of the time and should take the risk.

 

Also, sometimes the size of your stack is a factor. A risk you could make with a 100BB stack isn't the same one as you can make with a 10BB stack...

 

I made a very bad decision earlier today.

I had TT, i raised it up and got re-raised. I decided to call but at that moment there i should have known i was behind. I was really hopping to flop a set and crush but instead it came A X X. I checked, got bet at and at this point I can walk away with 8BB and be safe, i decide to risk it, he shows AK and the rest is history.

I shouldn't have really called his re-raise, he was screaming "I have QQ, KK, AA or AJ/AQ/AK" and i just said "OK, i dont care" - on the flop he carried on screaming "Well, don't have QQ or KK - now i just have any Ace" and for some reason I thought it was worth it... in hindsight I was wrong.

Had he not bet it as strong or just checked it, yes - in that spot I could have been ahead. Had it come with a Q instead of an Ace, i would have only really been behind to AQ in that spot typically so i could have given it a shot.

In this spot I am making a risk that isnt worth it. I am not dominating here and i am relying on luck (either luck that he doesnt have a better hand or luck that i can catch a better one) and thats just not smart poker.

 

The only reads we really have in Online Poker are how our opponent bets. We can't see their face or their body movements. It is all down to how they bet.

If an opponent checks the flop to you, chances are they don't have a part of it. If you bet at them here you are also giving them information which says "I either have a better hand than you or I am reminding you that I have position and you are going to have to play to me with anything you have got, so make it good"

If on the other side your opponent is first to act and bets the flop... sure, if they are the pre-flop raiser it could be a standard C-Bet but regardless of it being a bluff or not, they are saying "My hand is the best" and if when you ask yourself "Is my hand the best here?" and you answer no, you are really only beating a bluff and thats never the best position to be in.

 

Now I am not saying people don't bluff, people do... C-Beting is very popular for aggressive preflop raisers regardless of if they hit something or not. In my example if the board had come with undercards, my TT's could have well been good enough to challenge my opponent but i didn't have a strong enough hand to take the risk I did and I suffered because of it.

 

I am a smart poker player most of the time... I really am. However I get jammed up or even knocked out sometimes because I am willing to take risks on hands that don't warrant it. People will be betting strongly into me and i just feed my chips back to them.

For this reason, anytime I have to call a strong bet (be it a re-raise, all-in or a simple call) I ask myself "Is it worth the risk"

Is it worth the risk to see that turn card and catch my straight?

Is it worth the risk to call that All-In with just bottom pair?

Is it worth the risk to call a value bet on the river to see if my 3 high flush is strong enough?

 

Also, anytime I am sticking money into the pot, I ask it as well.

Is it worth the risk to limp in here and try to flop a set?

Is it worth the risk to C-Bet after I raised pre-flop where my AK didn't hit anything?

Is it worth the risk to bet the river even though all I have is a weak hand?

 

We have to make risks with every hand we play but the important risks are the ones that knock you are out or devestate your chips if you are wrong. Don't be scared to make those decisions on the chance you could be beat... weigh those decisions up as carefully and smartly as you can so that you are putting your money in when you have the best chance of winning and folding when you have the worst chance of winning.

 

I still need to remind myself of this every game I play because im still eager to make plays where I am pottentially way behind but the gamble seems worth it... its not and I get knocked out.