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The following is a post from Mark who runs the Poker Bankroll Blog and the PokerBRB.com freeroll and tournament league. It was written and submitted to his blog by McTap03, who has his own poker blog, Big Pond, Little Fish and who is an admitted Poker-holic.
At the end of this post, I have added my thoughts. See what you think.
Written by McTap03:
Have you ever called a bet (tournament or cash game) where you had a good feeling you were behind but the amount was “only” a little bit and well worth it to see another card to maybe hit your miracle card to win?
Before I go on about this topic, let me give you a little insight into where I started thinking about this.
My wife went shopping yesterday and I knew before hand that this was going to be an expensive day. This morning I wake up and see all the items she purchased. There is plenty but I brush it off as I have only a short time to get ready before commuting (1 hr) to work. As I’m leaving, she wakes up and asks if I like the purchases. I make a comment about item X that I felt was really not necessary, which she replies with “it was ‘only’ X dollars” and heads back to bed. So while collecting my thoughts during my commute, I come to this conclusion: I say the same thing when it comes to poker and totally feel it to be justified.
So getting back to my original question, ask yourself the following: Have you ever called a bet (tournament or cash game) where you didn’t like your situation but the amount was “only” a little bit and well worth it to see another card to maybe hit your miracle card to win?
If the answer is yes, then how many times have you actually hit your miracle card? And did you win the pot? My guess is that you hit your card far less than the ‘good’ odds you were given to see the card. And then, depending on what the card was, you probably didn’t get paid off for it. The reason I say this is that, if the card made a flush or straight, most observant opponents would put you on it and then either not bet before you, or not call your value bet. So unless the card made you trips or top 2 pr (which are easier to disguise), then you won’t get much value on your river bet. Plus you still might lose if your opponent has you ‘out kicked’. So what do you do? Poker is at times a gamble, so you can’t stop calling the smallish bet on the turn/river, but you can minimize when you do, therefore controlling your ‘leak.’
Too many players, especially at the lower limit games, like to chase cards as they figure they will win a big pot if they hit, but in reality this is a HUGE flaw in their game. They are throwing away money/chips for a chance to hit it big. This is where outs and odds really make a difference. If you are chasing a flush draw/OESD then you might be getting good odds to call the “only” bet, but if the draw is to trips, 2 pr, or even worse top pair, then your odds are probably not in your favour to call. The good players know their odds and outs, while the ‘fish’ don’t, or don’t care about them. The good players have a better understanding of when to call the ‘only’ bet and when to let it go. So if you want to become a better player, really start focusing on this aspect of your game (mostly odds and outs), control your leaks (especially if you hear yourself say “it is only X more to call”, then don’t do it), and over time you should become better.
Good luck at the tables.
In a no limit tournament it is often correct to make a call of "only" a small bet. In fact, if I am drawing to a set or two pair to beat an opponent with a completed flush or straight, and I will win a big pot, the pot odds and even the implied odds will often make it the right play.
There are other reasons as well to make this call:
a. Your opponent may be bluffing.
b. Your call may induce your opponent to check the river and fold when you bet.
c. You both may check down the river and even if you don't have the better hand, you will learn how he plays his cards and his betting pattern--which puts you in an excellent spot to beating him for a bigger pot later.
d. You may raise his small bet on the turn and discover your opponent is the one who folds his draw.
In a limit cash game, the pots at the lower levels are often big enough to make that call and still get callers on the river.
Overall, calling that small bet is often the right play in poker just as that purchase McTap03's wife made. His wife's purchase not only has utility "value" but also the added emotional rewards she gets; which in turn, can also be beneficial to him. Just as in life, you never know what can happen when you make that "only" call.
What do you think?
My thanks to Mark for submitting this post and McTap03 for writing it!
Tomorrow: My Top 10 Poker Hands of the Decade