Far too much at the moment do I see opponents calling 3-bets with no plan.

If you are on button and want to play T9s, have a plan. What will you do if your opponent raises you? Do you know anything about that opponent and their 3-bet range? Do you plan to call a raise or would you re-raise?

I really don't mind the opponent who 4-bet shoves me when I am trying to 3-bet them off their button steal. I have a plan for my play there. If my cards are good, I may call a 4-bet shove, if not then I may fold but I know this before I will 3-bet him. At least that guy seems to have a plan, yeah he can often be light when he does this but at least its a strong play and one he has thought about.

If i don't have this plan then I can't make the bet, its that simple.

The play that makes no sense to me is the button limp and not folding to a raise.

If all you have is K5s and you want to limp in with it, how do you call a re-raise with it? Is your plan to flop KK or 55 or K5 and suddenly trap me? If not, what if you just flop a 5 or a K, you are banking on being able to outplay my raise with a pair of 5s or a King with weak kicker?

Now, I am not saying when I re-raise a limper that I always have a hand sometimes I might not.

The point however is that it is quite clear these guys are acting on impulse. They have an impulse to limp in, they then react to my raise by calling, then then get stuck on the flop because they didn't plan that far ahead.

I am not saying you have to be a Chess Whiz Kid and plan a game of poker 10 moves ahead, just a couple is a good idea.

Start with : If I limp, how much will i fold for?

Then expand that to : If i limp and call, what flop do i want?

Then further : If I limp, call and don't hit my flop, what is my plan? otherwise how am I going to bet it?

So in the above, say we have a pair of 6s, we decide we will limp and fold to anything above x2 more. We want to hit a 6 and if we don't we will bail. If the flop is dry, out of position we will check/call the flop then check/raise the turn, otherwise we will bet outright from the start. We will want to build a big pot.

Lets say we weren't thinking ahead. Same hand and our opponent x4 it, we now have to pay x3 more to call, we don't know what to do and just call to see a flop.

Flop comes 2-4-4 - great! we made an overpair, we out of position so we know enough to check here, our opponent bets 50% of the pot and we are willing to play a small pot here so we call.

Turn comes T, so now we have an overpair, we still want to see a showdown so lets see if we can get a free card, we check and our opponent checks

River comes 5, why did our opponent check? was he scared of the Ten? maybe we can represent that and take the pot.. should we bet? ---mmmmm, sure lets give it a shot. We bet, our opponent raises and we call.

He shows JJ and takes the pot.

The above sequence was in play because we didn't plan our hand. 66s might have been good there but it was a check/call and check/fold to strong action, we wanted to play a small pot and gave our opponent a chance to make it a big one by giving him an additional bet.

If in doubt - fold!

If you don't have a plan for the action ahead of you, if you don't know what you will do when the next street or next bet comes, fold. If you aren't confident in your read on your opponent or feel they could be strong, fold.

In this game, we want to be in the driving seat as much as possible and when we can't be we need to know what size of pot we are willing to play for or have a monster that we can play passivly for value.

Often, a good rule of thumb for me is that if I can't re-raise an opponent, I shouldn't call.

Either I am calling to catch a good card on the next street (which is weak), I am calling to trap my opponent (because my cards are strong), I am calling to maintain pot control (which means that I want to be playing a small pot, a big pot and I am folding) or lastly.. and soooo conditional here, I am calling to outplay my opponent.

The last one only works if you have the read and ability to outplay an opponent. If you are confident they have a certain range like AJ-AK and 99+, It is a lot more likely they have AJ+ than a pair so if the flop comes without J-A, then I may want to float my opponents mandatory C-bet and then bet him when he checks the turn as he always does.

The bottom line here though is that no matter what move you make, be it a call, fold or raise, you should know what your next move will be. If you call, what will you do on the flop? If you raise, what do you do when your opponent calls or re-raises? If you fold, well then thats the end.

Have a plan and stick to it, have a few contingencies in mind as to how things might play out and if you get to a point where your cards, the board or your opponent makes you feel you are stuck, fold.. why would you want to fight with one hand tied behind your back!!

-baud2death