By PokerCoaching.com coach, Evan Jarvis.

Knowing when to fold is a nuance that escapes beginners, especially when they place their energy and focus on their hand instead of trying to read their opponents. If you want to excel as a player, you’ll need to know when to laydown a hand and when to make a heroic call. Practice reading hands and trusting your instincts, and soon enough, you’ll be playing like a pro.

Knowing When To
Hold’em And When To Fold’em

If you want to
improve your decision making, get to know the way your opponents play. Learn to
read your opponents and how to act using the insight
you’ve collected. 

Pay Attention To The
Action, Even When You’ve Folded

Whether you have cards or not, pay
attention to the session in progress. Watch what your opponents are doing and
why they do it.

  1. Take Notes On Uncharacteristic Actions

If you see something weird, jot it
down. Knowing a player’s idiosyncrasies is advantageous to you, should they
pull that move again, you’ll be ready.

  • Look For Inconsistent Actions (don’t bet, lead outs)

Not to be confused with
uncharacteristic actions, inconsistent actions are ones that disrupt the
natural flow of the hand, like when the river leads out. These actions are
telling about your opponent’s hand. Watch out for when they do something out of
the ordinary and try to figure out what happened.

  • When Things ‘don’t make sense’ or ‘don’t add up’ – Call

If your spidey-senses are tingling over
your opponent’s last action, and you can’t figure out a real hand that could
justify it, he’s bluffing there probably isn’t one.

Absolute vs. Relative
Hand Strength

  • Absolute Hand Strength: what’s in your hand.
  • Relative Hand Strength: your hand strength relative to your opponent’s hand strength.

Absolute hand
strength is just cool terminology; it offers no help to your game the way
relative hand strength does. It doesn’t matter what’s in your hand; all that
matters is having a better hand than your opposition. Some players have rules
about which hands they can’t fold, like a flush but this doesn’t matter if your
opponent is a tight player and only actions big flushes. This rule will
stagnate your game so be flexible and make an effort to read your opposition.

It Takes Skill To
Laydown A Strong Hand

Here are some starter
questions to help you decide how much action to give a hand or when to call it
quits.

  • Is your opponent aggressive or passive, weak or reckless?

If your opponent is aggressive or
reckless and involved in all the action, call him down with a top pair, top
kicker most likely, if he’s just betting. If you’re up against someone passive
or weak that is selective with what they play and how much they bet; figure out
his standards. What hands is he willing to play and how much is he willing to
spend; so you can gauge your relative hand strength.

  • How many bets went in preflop?

The more money that enters the pot preflop, the less strict you can be with which hands to action. The bigger the pot, the better your pot odds and the lighter your requirements for stacking off or calling down. You also aren’t likely to experience sneaky hands.

  • How many players saw the flop?

The more players that saw the flop, the
more cards that are in play and the stronger the likelihood someone’s connected
with the board. Exact more caution in 5-way play over heads-up.

  • How likely are hands like 2 pair, sets, straights, flushes?

How closely connected or scattered are
the cards on the board? People are more apt to play cards closer in rank, so
proceed with caution if the flop cards are closely connected. A scattered or
low board is not as actionable for players so play more daring hands.

  • How many bets have/are likely to go into the pot?

Decide early on if you’re going to the
end with your opponent – based on their actions. C-bets aren’t worrying, but
raises are more indicative of how much action they intend on putting into the
pot.

Pot odds matter a lot on the river. The
less your opponents bet, the less often you have to show the best hand to be
making a profitable call. E.g., a half pot bet is 3-1 on your money, so you
need to be right 25% of the time. If you don’t want to get stumped on the
river, plan ahead using the previous pointers.

Laydowns And Hero
Calls

Humans are curious by nature; we want information. This need for information can work against you when you’ve deduced what’s in your opponent’s hand and you call their extra-large river bet just so you can confirm your suspicions. Learn to trust your instincts; if you feel beat, you probably are. Exercise self-control and fold. If you can do this, you’re already ahead of most players who can’t resist the urge to play on, and consequently, this is where a lot of money is made.

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog post. If you enjoyed it, please share it with your friends and let Evan know. If you want to continue working on your poker skills, be sure to sign up for your free 7-day trial to our interactive training site, PokerCoaching.com.

Be sure to check back next week for another educational blog post. Thanks for reading!





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