Hold'em Practice Hands & Examples

Continued from: Basic Poker Math & Statistics

I'd like to go through some Hold'em practice hands now. I will lay out all the background information and let you practice by reasoning through some hands. After that, I'll give you my opinion to show how I would analyze each hand.

Hold'em Example Hands

Example Practice Hand #1

It is the first poker hand in a 50 player live tourney; blinds are 25/50; each player started with 1000 in chips. The buy-in is $100 with no re-buys.

You are at a table of ten, playing against unknown players. Nothing has happened so far and everyone has 1000 in poker chips. You are on the dealer button with AsJs. The players in the first two positions after the blinds both folded, and the 3rd to act opened for 3 times the big blind. Everyone else folds to you. After a middle position open you decide to:

  • A) Fold. You're probably beaten.
  • B) Call. You have a good hand and position on the raiser.
  • C) Raise. Make it hard for the blinds to stick around, and gather more info on the raiser.

I think at least plays B and C make some sense, but I would call here trying to see a flop. Our middle position raiser may have us beat, but he may not. The blind money already being in there sweetens the pot a bit more too. I think I'd want to see a flop here. If the blinds call we'll still have position on them after the flop, and our hand is versatile enough to play against few or many players. The strong Ace plays good short-handed, and the suited Ace plays well in a multi player pot.

You call, the small blind folds, and the big blind calls. The pot contains $475. The flop comes out Jc 5c 5d. The big blind checks, the middle position player and original raiser bets $250, about the pot, and the action is on you. Now what?

  • A) Fold, in case your pair is no good.
  • B) Call, because you have top pair top kicker but might be losing to a set of fives.
  • C) Raise, because you don't believe you're beat and you want to make any draws pay to see the next card.

This is a pretty good flop for you. Because of the pre-flop action it seems unlikely that the 5's hit anyone's hand, and if the middle position raiser had JJ, he'd probably be more likely to check his boat and hope someone would hit a flush so he could break them. It's more likely that he's just making a standard continuation bet (one that continues his show of strength from his pre-flop raise designed to win the pot without contest). Perhaps he's on the flush draw. Maybe he's got a medium pocket pair and just wants to find out if he's still ahead. I think we need to raise here; C is correct.

After you meet his bet there will be $975 in the pot. Because the pot is big enough to be happy with now and because it contains more in it than you have in front of you, I think you might as well move all-in. If you made even the minimum bet you'd be committed to the pot anyway, so you might as well slide them in. Your raise is only $500. It still gives your opponent the right odds to call if he's on a flush draw, but it's the best you can do. What that also means is if the player were on the flush draw, he just risked committing himself to playing this pot for all his chips - definitely something to keep in mind. It would cost him another $500 to try and win the $1495 that's already out there. That gives him about three to one on his call. Because his odds are slightly better than 2 to 1 against (about 36%) filling his flush, he'll have a pretty easy call.

Additionally, if he has any cards higher than your jack, he has even more outs. Even though you can no longer deny him the odds, he needs to call with a flush draw betting is still the right play. If you just call his bet you are basically giving him infinite odds in the form of a free card - that's $1,495 to $0. He could win the entire pot if he makes his hand, and he has to pay nothing to try to draw to it. Giving someone a free card that could beat you is about as costly as mistakes get in poker. What if he's got a pocket pair that's higher than your jack? Well, then you'll most likely lose. You can't be certain that he doesn't, but it's just not very likely and it's a chance you'll just have to take. You can't just sit around and wait for the nuts while playing tourneys; you're under too much pressure to accumulate chips in the face of extrapolating blinds. Even in cash games the blinds will whittle you to nothing if you don't play when you are reasonably likely to have the best hand. Under tournament conditions you can start out playing very tight, but you'll have to start moving your chips at some point and you just don't have time to worry about whether or not your opponent has pocket aces. If he's got 'em, he's got 'em; most of the time, he won't have 'em.

♣ Continued at: Practice Hands: Tournament Example #1

♣ Back to the index of Dead Money's guide to hold'em strategy.