Killed by quads

Should I have expected this? Of course. Because everyone with a big stack and 34o will call a 2BB raise with the blinds at 300/600. And of course it happens when I get full housed and improve to a better full house on the river.

Do you call all-in here? Or do you lay down?

You Lose there to AA, KK, 88, and 4x. AA, KK, and 4x didn’t seem likely. 88 didn’t even seem all that likely, so yeah, you have to call. Well, I would have, anyway.

I don’t know why he decided to enter that pot, but your super-cute little mini-raise was so adorable, it was beggind to be cuddled and called. I thought you just re-evaluated your open ranges and sizings?

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I did, but I only made an adjustment to my early game. This late, with 2BB being 1200 chips, I thought that would be enough. I mean, who plays 34 anyway? They should be folding that without any pressure ahead of the flop!

You’re absolutely right that 34o shouldn’t be in that hand, and should’ve folded before even seeing your preflop minraise. I could see 88 being played this way, though you’re blocking all but one combo of that. A4 (four combos) would also be “reasonable,” and the biggest hand that scares me in this spot, though of course I’d advocate raising that preflop.

AA (6 combos), KK (6 combos), and QQ (1 combo) probably would’ve raised preflop instead of called - twice - so those are probably not in your opponent’s range.

To SPG’s point, you have to consider that someone already called, as well as the presence of the ante, when deciding your preflop raise sizing strategy. As with any raise, you want to build a pot when you have good hands, and convince your opponents to fold off their equity when you don’t, using the same size for both. The problem is that, when you’re including Q8s in your preflop bluff range (this was a bluff, right?), you’re giving the big blind odds to call pretty much anything - just 600 more chips to win a pot of 3180, or a touch under 19% equity required. Similar for the UTG+2 player, folding facing a minbet simply doesn’t make any sense.

Personally, I’d recommend folding here. I think Q8s is too weak to be playing from the hijack even when it’s folded to you; when there’s someone who’s already shown interest in the hand, you’ll need to tighten up your range even further. There’s not much room to maneuver postflop since everyone’s sitting on short stacks (10-30BB), and if one of the really short stacks decides to jam on you, you’ll absolutely have to fold.

If you did want to play a hand in this spot - A4s could make a more-reasonable bluff candidate - I’d use a size closer to 3BB, or about 1800. You have to make the decisions tougher on the players who are going to come after you. Calling a minbet when you already have a big blind committed, and the pot is bloated by antes, is not a difficult decision.

I definitely do have some work to do on my bet sizing and especially my open size.

I just went out 8th/9 in a SNG where, on the first hand I tried to bet the pot with A9o on the button, betting 120 on a 15/30 blind, got called by 3-5, they end up with 3s full of 5s to win the hand. But not only did that one guy call me, so did 4 players. 120 isn’t too much to call, but even for 53. So I flop a flush draw with the Ace, don’t hit it, and lay down the hand on the river when a player makes a bigger bet than I can call with the nothing I ended up with, but 5-3 raises and takes a 5700 chip pot, and I’m down 25% of my starting stack.

Later on I exited the game, I am dealt JJ sitting in UTG+1, raise with a pot-sized bet, the rest of the table folds, UTG calls with 64s. The flop pairs their 4 and gives them a flush draw, but the flop is all rags, so I bet the pot, he calls, hits two pair on the turn, shoves, I call, he takes the hand.

Not complaining about the outcome, beats happen. Sometimes you make a correct play and still lose. But how does a player play with hands like 53, 64? I never play these unless I’m dealt them on the BB and no one raises. But apparently these hands can profitably call when a player raises with a bet that is “small” objectively (relative to stack sizes) but is huge relative to the blinds (equal to the total pot). I’d like to understand how players can play weak starting cards like 53, 64, especially in the face of any raise.

I can understand 4 players calling a raise to 120 on the opening hand. 120 chips isn’t that much relative to stack size, and so sizing the open relative to the blinds doesn’t work with the blinds so small. I’m sure people will say A9 was too weak to open anyway, even on the button.

On the other hand, I also get advice that if I only raise with big pairs and broadway cards, it’s too obvious to everyone that they should fold when I raise unless they have a premium hand. So sometimes I should open with lesser hands, right? Hence I try opening with A9. And you’re supposed to tighten your range even further when a player ahead of you shows interest in the pot, so I guess 53 tightened up from playing… what? 42? I don’t mind giving up 25% of my stack for the chance to win 25% of 4 other player’s stacks. That would have doubled me up. In a 5-way showdown I’m only 25% likely to win, according to my odds calculator, which isn’t so hot. I want better odds than that, so should have opened bigger and gotten fewer calls. I just can’t seem to find where players are at when it comes to getting them to call vs fold. It almost seems like it’s contagious. If the first player after me calls, everyone comes in, and if they fold, everyone folds. But getting called, and then beat, by a player holding rags… I gotta admit, that kinda burns me up. Maybe I shouldn’t let it bother me, and just play the long game and trust that over time I’m going to take more chips away from this player than I’ll lose to him.

Yes, but you have to take the same line too. If you raise to 2BBs with junk and 4BB with good hands, you are defeating the purpose. Either open the same with all your hands or vary the way you play your stronger hands too.

Personally, I would rather play my whole open range with some variation in my bet sizing. In practice, this means i have to limp big pairs sometimes, and open bluff bigger now and then. My goal is to have no apparent connection between my bet size and my hand, making it much harder to put me on a hamd.

I don’t vary my openings by the cards, but I do by the number of people who called ahead of me. And to some extent by the size of the stacks involved in the hand, and the size of the blinds.

I’m apparently not doing this as well as I could be. I feel like I’m getting advice to suicide raise, bet so much that I’m completely screwed if I don’t win the hand, and most likely get everyone to fold and end up just stealing blinds, but when someone does call it will only be a mega hand that will beat me unless I suck out. Maybe that’s what I should be doing, and just accept that many times I’ll be out in the first hand I play, but can make it up by going way up early when I do win my first hand? Or else tighten my early range to AA, KK, which is not really practical. Don’t ever limp, except sometimes to throw people off…

Basically the advice I’m getting seems contradictory and too jumbled, and it’s not helping me. There’s never a move that’s right all the time, and even if there was, people would figure out how to exploit it, so I have to seem as random as possible, yet still win at a greater than random rate. Poker’s hard…

Yes, poker is hard.

You asked for opinions and different people will have different opinions and different ways to approach the game. You have to decide what’s with for you.

Most people on Replay call too much, which indicates that you should play stronger hands for the most part. Bluff less and extract more value from this kind of player. Forget high-end strategies when playing low-end players, and stick with the basics. Bet when you have a hand, check or fold when you don’t. You can’t do this when playing the best players, but you won’t usually be playing the best players.

I almost never min bet or min raise. Either limp to disguise your hand strength or make a real bet/raise to announce that you’re strong. Min betting just says you have a mediocre hand that you don’t really like. This often leads to situations you don’t want to be in.

Heads up vs someone with a “hit or quit” mentality, it’s ok to min bet if that player has shown that they will fold to such a bet. It can be ok if you are trying to induce a bluff or a raise. It can be ok to take control of the hand against a player who doesn’t like to raise. In position, you can sometimes min bet or min raise the flop and get to see the turn and river for no additional cost when you’re on a good draw. (it will often check around to you on the turn) There may be a few other rare situations where it’s ok, but it’s usually incorrect in my opinion.

There’s no “right way” that always works. There are many factors to consider in every situation. However, min betting and min raising are mostly bad ideas.

OH, and if you play a high-aggro game, you have to accept the risk. You will win and lose bigger pots, and see higher variance. It’s just part of the game.


We often ask how to do something, or what to do, when we should be asking “why?”.

There are 2 reasons to bet or raise… to get stronger hands to fold or to get weaker hands to call.

We can never fully understand why other people do what they do, but you had better understand why you are doing what you’re doing.

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I’m not referring to inconsistent advice coming from different people; I’m referring to contradictory advice coming from the same people. A bunch of people have said “don’t limp” and you’ve been one, but I guess it’s just that I didn’t understand that this was not to be taken absolutely literally. So limping sometimes isn’t necessarily bad, but you have to be deeper into the game in order to know why you’re doing it, and have a plan for how you want to play the hand starting from the limp. Ok, fine. Makes total sense, but yet a little short on details that could show the insight needed to make those plays. But it will come to a thinking player through experience.

Well, for example, heads-up I’ll limp AA sometimes. Why? Because the point of raising a hand like this is to isolate a player, and heads up this is automatically done for me every hand. Now, sometimes I might raise, and sometimes I might shove those Aces. But if I’ve been aggressive and raising a lot of my hands with a big stack to put pressure on my opponent, and they’ve been forced to tighten up so they’re only calling with their highest hands, then I want them to feel comfortable maybe trying to steal this pot from me with a shove, and showing weak with AA is smart, even if potentially they could flop 2 pairs or better and win.

Conversely, against this opponent in this situation, I might also min-raise with rags, once in a while, knowing that they’re likely to fold. It’s almost better if they call and I happen to hit something like a straight or trips to win the hand, because that completely destroys their confidence in their range.

As you and others have said, people do call too wide here. What’s been puzzling me is why has this only been hurting me in recent weeks, when I’ve been playing close to this style for several months. Did something change? Was it me, or was it the opponents? Are people figuring me out? Or is it just the law of averages catching up with me? Tough to say.

I think maybe I’ve been too aggressive, in terms of opening too wide a range, and betting too often when there’s no action, whether I have something or not. But also I’ve been too weak, in terms of the size of my bets. So that’s a bad combination, betting too little, too frequently. Trying to get max value out of showdowns, instead of taking smaller pots for sure by betting everyone else off the pot. I can adjust that.

Limping (or anything) isn’t always bad, but you have to know why you would limp and where, and when, and against who. When I say “don’t limp,” I mean it’s generally not a good idea, and knowing when to break this rule is a complex topic.

Your table image should have a lot to do with all of your decisions. For example, if you are only playing 1 hand every 3 orbits, your bets and raises will carry more weight. If you are playing 3 or 4 hands an orbit, don’t expect people to respect your bets as much. If you have opened rags and won, you lose cred on your future bets. You can use this to your advantage, but you have to be aware of how the table perceives you first.

Be aware though, that a lot of people won’t have an image of you. They play their own hands and don’t pay attention to what you have done. You have to identify this kind of player fast. Same goes for calling stations, people who bluff too much, and so on. The real art of poker is the ability to quickly get into the minds of the other players and understand their approaches to the game. How can you exploit their playing style if you haven’t bothered to identify it?

So here’s a question for you… WHY did you min raise with Q8 there? It was a mistake for the BB to fold, and you couldn’t really expect that other guy to fold. You should have expected at least 2 callers there, maybe more. You should have expected to be between 2 other players, playing a bigger pot with Q8. Does this seem reasonable to you?

I’m not sure if you want me to answer here or just for myself, but to answer your question, I min raised Q8 because I didn’t want to fold, didn’t want to limp, and didn’t want to go higher than 1200 to open. Blinds were big enough that I (wrongly, for this table) reasoned that a min raise was enough to reduce the hand to 1-2 opponents. How 34 could call even the min raise here, I still don’t understand. Of course when they flopped trip 4s,it’s the perfect situation for them. I’d fold X4 here, and I might have played 44, but I discounted it as too unlikely. So I thought 8844Q was a likely best hand here. I was wrong because my opponent played a hand they shouldn’t have. When the 3rd 4 hit the board I figured it was even less likely they had a 4. I thought maybe could have a 4, of course, but I discounted it as unlikely enough that I should call with the full house. The river mirage Queen was enough to get me to call the shove, which I read as a bluff, or maybe a chop situation if they had a Queen too.

Why he decided to enter the pot is anyone’s guess. But you don’t understand why he called your min raise?

By the time it got back to him, there was 3780 in the pot, and it cost him another 600 to call. He was getting over 6-1 pot odds to make that call. If you had the 2 black aces, he was about a 5-1 dog, and was still about 14% if you had his suits both covered with the 2 red aces. In other words, it was correct for him to call there.

Assuming you didn’t have overpair, he was about a 2-1 dog. It wasn’t a mistake for him to see that flop once he decided to get involved in the first place, no matter what you had. (almost)

You were doomed when he hit that flop, nothing you can do about that. But your min raise made it correct to call you, and there is something you could have done about that.

I would have folded Q8 there faster than rice paper at a speed origami contest, but had I played, I would have raised to something like 2400 and probably have taken it down preflop. And if he called, then led into me on the flop, I would think hard about calling him.

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The pot odds explanation makes total sense, and I feel dumb for not considering it. I just looked at his 34s and think that it’s garbage and you don’t call any size raise with garbage. Even though they’re
suited connectors, I didn’t give the hand enough value to play. If he’s not in the BB, it’s a fold, not a limp, right? But since he’s already in for 600, what’s another 600 on top of that? I couldn’t see the logic until you pointed out the pot odds to call here, and now it does make sense how he was able to call.

I suppose now I’ll be calling smaller raises a lot more often in big multi-way pots when I’m holding garbage in the BB, and lose a lot more chips. Thanks!

I hate to break it to you, but he wasn’t even suited, and it was still correct to call.

Don’t thank me until you stop min raising Q8 from mid position against people who obviously call too much!

Also, it’s almost always correct to defend your BB against a min raise.

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I couldn’t remember offhand whether it was 34o or 34s. What you say makes sense.

Except then I distill it down to: Don’t min raise with Q8, but DO call a min raise with 34o. Calling ranges are supposed to be tighter than open ranges. But, I get it, opening too light screws that logic up and gives too good pot odds to pass when you’re already halfway there.

I’ll try opening bigger, and tighten my range some.

Hey this just happened:

89o, open to 3BB, one caller: 35. I hit a 3-straight with a Ten on the board, so a pretty solid miss on this flop. I lead, so I bet half pot anyway. They call. We check to the river, they river a pair of threes to take it from me. I’m too timid with betting, and if I’m going to bluff I should bluff all the way or just give it up early and save my chips, and definitely bluff way less against these calling stations.

You bet 1/2 pot on the flop, giving him 3-1 pot odds. He flopped an open ended straight draw, which he will hit by the river about 1 time in 3, or 2-1 odds against him. He also had a baby backdoor flush draw.

Technically, it was a mistake to call if you just consider pot odds because he would usually have to call another, bigger, bet on the turn. Some people won’t fold a draw like that though, and he might have been considering his implied odds.

Checking just gave him the free cards he needed to beat you though. I understand why you decided to slow down, but that also led to your loss there. He might well have folded to another bet on the turn, because most people c-bet no matter what, so your flop bet meant very little.

It kind of blows me away that you said you didn’t even consider the pot odds in the original hand you posted. Pug, Pug, Pug! The whole idea of no-limit is that it allows us to control the pot odds we offer our opponents! You should ALWAYS think about what odds you are laying in any post flop play.

Well, I usually just consider the pot odds from my side of the table.

When I was starting out, I used to launch pot-sized bets to close the hands early whenever I’d hit top pair or better. That worked for a while, until it didn’t. Someone suggested that I try betting half-pot so that I wouldn’t do myself so much damage if 1 pair wasn’t good enough to win the hand, and I found that half-pot bets would get nearly the same amount of folds, but also would win me enough hands when I got calls that it was more profitable overall to half-pot bet.

This, too, worked for a while, until it stopped working. Now I’m betting too light, and getting called much too often, I’ve dropped the aggression after the flop bet gets called, and I’m getting taken on the turn just about every time, which is costing me way more chips than it’s worth. I used to 3-barrel bluff when I was starting out with the pot-sized bets, and getting nearly all-in, and sometimes it would work but when it didn’t, it left me near dead, so I decided to quit doing it.

I’m also playing more aggressively because I have to because I raise more than limp preflop, and when I raise I feel pressure to take the hand whether I’ve made something or not. But my “aggression” is too weak – betting too frequently, yet not enough.

So it’s looking like I need to:

  • Open less often, tighter range, preferrably from better position
  • Bet bigger when I do open.
  • C-bet the turn and river if I have to when I miss and feel I have a good chance to bluff.
  • Not bluff too much when I do miss a flop.
  • Consider the pot odds I’m offering when I size my bets.

Basically, just go back to fundamentals, in other words.

Just for giggles, look at your stats page and tell me what % of hands you win at showdown, and what % you win with out showdown.

Mine are:

At Showdown 55%
Without Showdown: 45%

This tells me that I am not extracting max value from every hand, but winning a lot without going to showdown. As a tournament player, this is exactly what I want to do. I can’t lose chips on a hand that everyone else folds, right? I win most of these hands on the turn, and often check the river when in position rather than giving them the chance to raise me off the hand.

If I was playing ring games, I would be closer to 75/25 and check less often when in position.

Yeah, back to the basics sounds good.

By the way, it’s usually better to check than min bet the flop without a good reason. (the why again)

If you min bet, you almost always give them the odds to chase any draw, so why build a bigger pot? If you are heads up against someone who you know will fold to a min bet, throw one out there to see where you are, but otherwise, either put in a real bet or just check.