Calling Bets with Weak Cards in Tournaments

Being aggressive with middle pairs to me is rather costly for early stage play.Set mining can be a profitable play for you when you can keep your entry costs low. In the early stages, loads of players are correctly playing for implied odds. A five times raise is not a big hit to their stack and you mostly just don’t narrow the field enough. 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.  Why not open raise, but once there are limpers, avoid attacking them when its deep stacked and when the blinds are very small.

You also can’t forget about the 2:1 odds. So if the pot is now one.Five big blinds, with one caller, which makes it two now.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 5.5BBs in it. As at result he is getting good odds to make a call here at nearly 3:1.

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. You are in front by quite a long way, but can you put much money into this pot? What about the continuation bet? But what if you just bet into the pot? What happens when he calls? Do you fire again on the turn? It’s an expensive guessing game now with just bottom pair?

But what if you have something like pocket threes pre-flop? With a board full of over cards,it’s still tough to bet even though statistically your opponent will have missed as well?

So yes, you had correct odds pre flop, if you could get to showdown for something approximating that pre flop investment. However, in big stack scenarios you really shouldn’t. You are going to have to play 3 more streets of poker before you get to showdown.

But that leads to the second 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. It also means when you don’t make a big hand, you will lose more than your fair share because the player in position will bet you off marginal hands with a worse hand himself.

If you think about it, in deep stack play, you shouldn’t be concerned with pot odds too much. This is where you should be measuring up your opponents stack.. i.e. what is the size of my chip stack and my opponents chip 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. If they have AA, and I want to be playing my little cards. But if the raise is getting up to around 10% of my stack, then I fold all the weired stuff, except PPs. Still, I am only concerend about the size of the bet compared to my effective tournament stack.

My cards may be 56s and be up against big slick. I have to be rather much httin a huge draw or two pair though, otherwise you will be faced with giving up the hand after the flop out of position. You can play a pair here by checking and calling, and by doing somay give you more information about your opponent’s 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. Understandably, these regrets come about as soon as you see the flop which invariably are difficult to play. Now he has physical tells to work with, and, as mentioned, he is Gus Hansen. There are no person to person tells and we can’t play like Gus. Importantly also, our opponents are not Gus’ opponents. It’s also important to know if your opponent can get away from a top pair, or are more willing to let it ride.

Guess I’m trying to say is that if you can afford it, implied odds are much more important than pre-flop pot odds. You might choose to play a given hand anyway, but do it for the reason of implied odds and not pot odds, if that makes sense. 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.