I hear that phrase at the poker table every once in a while. Someone says they bet (or raised) “just in case”. Of course that’s rarely going to be good enough. Your bets or raises should always have a reason. You might be betting for value with what you think is the best hand, or as a bluff with what rates to be the worst hand. You might bet or raise to thin the field and thus increase your chances to win the pot. Whatever the reason you’re taking the action, it’s important to at least have a definitive reason. There is a circumstance however that calls for a bet that is truly just in case. I want to discuss it because every once in a while I see people miss making this bet, and I’ve seen it cost people. I recently had this exact situation come up so it was on my mind. The circumstance I’m talking about is when you have the nuts, and it appears to be a split pot with your opponent. A common example from hold’em would be when you hold an ace and the board is KQJTx rainbow. You bet and your opponent raises you. It sure looks like you’ve got a split pot coming, and you’ll sometimes see people in this spot just call the raise saying “I guess we split it”. Yeah, you probably split it, but you should raise again just in case. Because occasionally your opponent will turn over a 9 or some freak hand like KQ because they just got stupid for a second. You’re almost always giving up value not making the just in case raise. The sole exception would be a very specific situation where your raise would put the pot size over the next rake threshold level, like from $2 to $3 (you raise would increase the rake), AND you’re 100% sure your opponent must have the nuts also to be raising you. So if you’re against a regular foe who you know is solid and you’re just certain, you can save that extra .50c (half of the extra dollar) that your raise would create in rake. But hey, it’s only .50c, so you have to be really sure to risk costing yourself an entire extra big bet (and costing yourself an extra .50c when it is a split is never a disaster). If the rake is already capped for the hand, then with the nuts there is no risk to raise again at all, and failing to do so is just foolish. The hand I played recently that reminded me of this was in a limit Omaha high/low split game. Here’s what happened: FullTiltPoker Game #10576252799: Table Trotter (6 max) - $5/$10 - Limit Omaha H/L - 20:39:09 ET - 2009/02/11 Seat 1: fooey0 ($315) Seat 2: markmaz17 ($113) Seat 3: abe1104 ($246.50) Seat 4: GallopingGhost ($409) Seat 5: liondh ($332.50), is sitting out Seat 6: dkastil ($138) fooey0 posts the small blind of $2.50 markmaz17 posts the big blind of $5 The button is in seat #6 *** HOLE CARDS *** Dealt to GallopingGhost [Ac Ah 6h Kc] abe1104 calls $5 GallopingGhost raises to $10 dkastil folds fooey0 folds markmaz17 folds abe1104 calls $5 *** FLOP *** [Ts 3h 4h] abe1104 has 15 seconds left to act abe1104 checks GallopingGhost bets $5 abe1104 calls $5 *** TURN *** [Ts 3h 4h] [2h] abe1104 bets $10 GallopingGhost raises to $20 I turn the 2nd nut low and the nut high (notice there’s no straight flush possible with me holding both the ace and six of hearts). Even better, he goes from check-calling the flop to now leading into me. Obviously I raised him. abe1104 raises to $30 So now he makes it 30. There’s only one single hand that justifies this raise, specifically A5, the wheel. Especially if he has a shot at a better high than a straight. Like if he’s got a wheel with a flush (a decent made high with the nut low), or a wheel with a set (nut low/straight with a redraw to a full house). GallopingGhost raises to $40 While it appears I’m splitting the pot right now, I elected to cap it. I did this because this player I had noted was not particularly good, so I thought there was a chance he was getting out of line with a big flush, or a 65 in his hand. Still, I want to point out this raise by me is still questionable as well… if he has a wheel with a set for instance, he’s guaranteed half the pot and is free rolling me for the high, which he’d win if he fills. If this opponent were a solid regular in the game, I don’t make this 4th bet here for just that reason. Against a weak player however, it does carry some upside value as I’ve already mentioned. abe1104 calls $10 *** RIVER *** [Ts 3h 4h 2h] [5s] abe1104 bets $10 The river changes nothing. I still have the nut high and 2nd nut low. The 5 coming and his subsequent bet makes it even more likely he’s got the wheel and we’re splitting the pot. This is the exact spot where you’ll see players make the mistake of just calling and saying “ok, chop it up”. No, this is a perfect spot for a “just in case” raise. Just in case he doesn’t have the wheel for some strange reason. I have the high half locked up, so there is no risk to my raise what so ever, only potential up side. So make the raise. GallopingGhost raises to $20 abe1104 calls $10 *** SHOW DOWN *** GallopingGhost shows [Ac Ah 6h Kc] a flush, Ace high, for high and 6,4,3,2,A, for low abe1104 mucks GallopingGhost wins the high pot ($77.50) with a flush, Ace high GallopingGhost wins the low pot ($77) with 6,4,3,2,A *** SUMMARY *** Total pot $157.50 | Rake $3 Board: [Ts 3h 4h 2h 5s] Seat 1: fooey0 (small blind) folded before the Flop Seat 2: markmaz17 (big blind) folded before the Flop Seat 3: abe1104 mucked [3s 3c 5d 2s] - HI: three of a kind, Threes --Oops! There’s the just in case. Seat 4: GallopingGhost showed [Ac Ah 6h Kc] and won ($154.50) with HI: a flush, Ace high; LO: 6,4,3,2,A Seat 5: liondh is sitting out Seat 6: dkastil (button) didn't bet (folded)