It’s Not Just Pot Odds to Ponder

Raising middle pairs over limpers in the early stages (regardless of buy-in) is somewhat risky.  You are likely to get better long term value from set mining cheaply. In the early stages, loads of players are correctly playing for implied odds. If you raise it that much, it’s still not a big hit to thier situation, and you will likely NOT get others to fold. What usually happens here is a tough decision to continuation bet or not into a large pot so many over cards on the board resulting in tough decisions.Sure you can open raise, but if there are multiple limpers I would just avoid attacking them when everyone is comfortable stacks and mzones.

You also can’t forget about the 2:1 odds. If the pot is 1.5BBs pre flop, there is 1 limper, that makes it 2.5BBs. You now decide to raise to three big blinds, making the pot five.5BBs and the limper (assuming everyone else folds) has to call 2BBs to see a flop with 5.five big blinds in it. So he is getting nearly 3:1 on his call.

If you think about it, you’re probably never too far behind pre-flop if you decide to play. However there is a problem. Maybe even more than one problem.

The main problem is betting ability of a weak hand. This could mean rags facing off against ace king. The flop comes down 5 J Q. Even though your ahead, it’s difficult to know how much you can bet here? Can you even call a standard Cbet with bottom pair out of position? What if you lead into the pot? Then what are you going to do when he smooth calls? Do you fire again on the turn? This could get very costly by playing the low pair and not knowing what he has?

But what if you have something like pocket threes pre-flop? With three big cards flopping, you can theoretically assume your opponent miss the flop, but you are stuck with how much to bet since it missed you as well?

Sure you had right odds preflop here, but you are assuming you can get to showdown as well. But when everyone has a lot of chips you can’t do it. You still have 3 betting rounds before you get to fifth street.

Concurrently, this also creates the 2nd problem. You are out of position and that’s not good poker tournament strategy. What this also means is that when you do actually hit the flop, the pots will be smaller. You will also lose more chips, because your opponent can bet you off a better hand because he has position.

If you think about it, in deep stack play, you shouldn’t be concerned with pot odds too much. I am only ever looking at implied odds.. i.e. what is the size of my stack and my opponents stack. If we are talking about five percent or less of my stack, I am calling with a LOT of cards. Even if they have pocket aces, my small cards and when a huge pot. I want them to have AA when I am playing 53s for a raise. But if the raise is getting up to around 10% of my stack, then I fold all the weired stuff, except PPs. But in all of that the only thing I am thinking about is the size of the bet I have to call compared to the effective stack.

I might have 56s and be up against AK. But unless I make and OESD, Flush draw or 2 pair or better, I will be surrendering pretty much every pot on the flop especially if I am OOP. Once in a while you might just want to check here if you hit a low pair, especially if you can put your opponent on a hand.

In Gus Hansen’s poker tournament strategy book, he often sounds angry at himself for calling early position raises from his big blind blind. Partly because, such calls often become more difficult place post flop. Gus can look at his opponent for tells, and after all his is The Great Dane. There are no person to person tells and we can’t play like Gus. Take into account, your opponent is weaker than the players Gus plays against. Whether you are up against people who are capable of folding strong hands or whether they just can’t surrender TPGK is an important distinction.

Guess I’m trying to say is that if you can afford it, implied odds are much more important than pre-flop pot odds. Hey, you may play the hand anyway, but look at it from an implied stand point, not just pot odds. You have to know how to calculate poker odds when getting into hands like this becuase it may very well determine your long term success in tournaments. Just knowing Poker rules are not enough to win, you need strategy too.