Money that we don’t waste is exactly the same as money that we win. It affects our bottom line in exactly the same way. Learning how to get away from a strong hand is one of the key skills we must employ as we move up the ranks. While not as exciting as the rail witnessing a sick call, we should be able to feel a great deal of satisfaction from having the discipline of laying down a monster.
If you can’t fold the best hand you can’t play.” - Amarillo Slim
This concept goes hand-in-hand with basic hand reading skills and knowing the difference between absolute strength and relative strength. Just think how many times we see recreational players in the micro refuse to ever fold two pair or better regardless of what the board looks like. These guys would be better off trying to build a roll in an Online Casino such as PayPal Online Casino than trying to take this approach.
Absolute Hand Strength and Relative Hand Strength
Absolute hand strength refers to how strong a hand is without any other considerations. A hand such as a set is seen as a strong hand. Relative hand strength on the other hand takes into account what other hands are possible on the board. The bottom end of a straight on a paired board where a flush is also possible isn’t actually great when receiving a lot of heat.
If you’re starting to get the feeling that you might be a massive calling station then now is the time to sit up and pay attention.
What Can We Do?
Laying down a strong hand isn’t easy. While calling down every time will save us ever having to fold the best hand, it’s a sure way to the poor house. We simply cannot use this approach. So what clues can we pick up on to get away from a hand in proper time?
Let’s look at a pre-flop situation that highlights a simple point. Imagine we are in the small blind holding AKo on an extremely nitty table. UTG opens to 4x - bigger than normal - and MP who is a tight players 3-bets. The CO now cold 4-bets and the BTN jams all-in for 100bb. What should we do?
While AKo is indeed a premium hand in this situation we are unlikely to be ahead and can go ahead and fold. While the first two players might not be guaranteed to have a premium hand, the CO and BTN almost certainly do. Particularly if they are known to be tight and conservative.
Another common example is in a pot where we 3-bet AK in position and hit top pair on a K 7 2 rainbow flop. Our passive villain checks to us, we c-bet and he raises. Passive players won’t ever be bluffing here and we can expect to see a set or even two pair if villain is loose passive and calls 3-bets too wide. Even if we go ahead and call this check raise, if villain shoves on the turn then it’s an easy fold. Many players will never fold top pair top kicker or better in a 3-bet pot - don’t be one of them.
Always Look for a Reason to Fold
This might sound a little defeatist, but it’s a great place to start learning when we can get away from hands we might have automatically continued with in the past. The key is to pay close attention to each player’s profile and understand how they play different hand types. Keeping Mental Tabs on how a villain plays draws, for example, is a great way to gain information that can help give clues that we’re almost certainly beat.
The real gold with this concept is when the decision is close and we can save valuable chips that make crushing win rates possible. This is one reason why the best players are where they are.