It’s Not Just Pot Odds to Ponder

I would rather call against multiple limpers then re-raised my middle pair to isolate in the early going.  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. A five times raise is not a big hit to their stack and you mostly just don’t narrow the field enough. You end up most times trying to decide whether to continuation bet into an overly large pot with over cards on the board and it all gets a bit too much like hard decisions for me.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. 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. 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. Or rather a couple of problems.

Firstly your problem is bet-ability of a marginal hand. You might have 95s and might be up against AK. The flop comes down 5 J Q. Sure you’re now ahead, but really how much can you afford to bet at this point? Can you even call a standard Cbet with bottom pair out of position? But what if you just bet into the pot? Then what are you going to do when he smooth calls? Do you fire again on the turn? How deep a hole are you going to dig for yourself with your bottom pair hoping that it is good?

But what if you have something like pocket threes pre-flop? There are 3 over cards (which statistcially are likely to have missed your opponent), but how much can you bet at this situation?

So yes, you had correct odds pre flop, if you could get to showdown for something approximating that pre flop investment. 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. This means when you do make you hand you will win less. 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 stack and my opponents stack. My calling range is rather wide if this bet represents 5% of my stack or less. If they have AA, and I have 53s, all the better. If they have AA, and I want to be playing my little cards. When it gets higher, like ten percent, I am more likely to fold. 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. You can play a pair here by checking and calling, and by doing somay give you more information about your opponent’s hand.

If you notice in Every Hand Revealed, Gus Hansen frequently berates himself for calling early position raisers with trash when he is in the BB. The reason is that he keeps getting faced with all these tough post flop decisions. 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. It’s also important to know if your opponent can get away from a top pair, or are more willing to let it ride.

So for what its worth, I’d recommend not falling too much in love with pre flop pot odds in deep stack situations. 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.