The odds against you flopping a set with a hand like 55 are pretty bad; about 7.5-1 against. So looking at equity alone, a case could be made to raise 55 if you have 9 other callers (since you expect to win with a set, which is 7.5-1, but you’re getting 9-1 on your money). Not a terribly strong case, but still. However, good players will get in with these hands even if they have considerably less than 7 opponents, despite having bad equity, because while they have to pay to see the flop, the reward they get when they hit it hard is more than enough to show profit.
Good Hand to Try a Cheap Look at The Flop
These hands are called speculative hands. This is implied odds at work. The pot may only be offering you 4-1 on your call right now, but then you only need to make up a few more bets on the flop and beyond to be a winner in the long run. With loose opponents, this is easy. And in good position, this is even easier.
A similar argument can be made for a hand like 98s, where it’s very unlikely that you have the best hand preflop (or even positive equity) but it’s very likely that you can get paid off bigtime if you can sneak a peak at the flop situs poker online indonesia cheaply and hit it hard. This concept is not difficult to understand, of course, but it’s still misapplied by beginners all the time. For instance, limping with small pairs in early position – this can be a bad idea. It’s true that you may hit a set, and it’s possible that you have the implied odds to make up for the one bet that you put in now, but what if you get raised preflop, and you end up being only three to the flop?
All of a sudden, you’ve paid 2 bets to win 6. Now, if you hit your set, you have to make up another 10 bets on the later streets – on average. Unless your opponent also flopped a strong hand, you’ve just made a costly mistake. But what could you have done differently? You had a pair of fives, and it’s a good hand, and it was bad luck that one of your opponents raised – wasn’t it? Sure was. But this is why position matters with speculative hands. If you had been in later position, you would have seen his raise before the action got to you, thus allowing you to make a correct fold. Of course, position matters for a second reason as well: If you do flop a monster, you’re much more likely to make the most money from it if you can have the raiser to your right. Having position means that your implied odds go up, and speculative hands thrive on that.
Adjusting to the Table
So now we’ve covered the two concepts that apply to starting hands. Since the average equity for a hand is usually known, and since you can somewhat easily figure out if a speculative hand is worth playing from a certain position, it’s simple to see how the starting hand charts are constructed. What I’m hoping to achieve with this article, however, is to get you to understand the underlying reasons for why the charts look the way they do – because armed with that understanding, you will be able to take it to the next step: adjusting to the table you’re playing.
Let’s revisit 55. Most charts will tell you to toss that away in early position, and I’ve already explained why. But what if you’ve played for the last hour at this table, and you know that no one (except for you!) raises preflop, and that the flop usually gets 5-6 callers. Should you still toss it? The chart says yes.
But I hope you now say no
The value of the speculative hand is there! You will get in cheaply, and get almost immediate pot odds for hitting your set. You can be pretty confident that you won’t be raised after you limp, so that’s safe too. Sure, you’d prefer to be in better position to milk your set if you hit it, but with so many people seeing a flop, you will still be paid more than enough to cover the times you miss.
These adjustments aren’t necessary to make a profit, if that’s all you want. In fact, adjusting to the table is difficult, and requires awareness and reads, both of which will require a great deal of focus. But a player who will not adjust his requirements to the table he’s playing is missing out on a lot of potential profit. And to show you the extreme case of the other side, let’s look at a hand I played at a $2/$4 full ring limit hold ’em table a few months back:
I had AQo on the button. This is a strong hand. The first two players off the big blind fold, but then the third player – who is very loose – raises. Now, ordinarily, this would not mean much to me. Loose players are like that after all. But then I noticed what poker tracker had to say about him: In the 350 hands that we had played together, he had raised only once before: And that was with pocket aces. When the action came to me, I laid my AQo down.
Without a read on him, I would have 3-bet here every time, but I trusted what I was told: This player only raises preflop with the extremely big hands, and against those, my AQo was a huge dog. At showdown, he showed KK. The flop had come Q-high, which would have given me top pair, top kicker, probably costing me at least $20. In a game that measures profit by a few big bets per 100 hands played, saving 5 big bets on a read is pretty great.