It’s Not Just Pot Odds to Ponder

Raising middle pairs over limpers in the early stages (regardless of buy-in) is somewhat risky.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. You’re immediately faced with a more difficult decision regarding a continuation bet man you’ve got over cards on the board.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.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 your opponent is getting nearly three to one odds by calling.

You have to consider the fact that you’re likely to never be worse than a three to one under dog pre-flop. However there is a problem. Or rather a couple of problems.

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? Can you even call a standard Cbet with bottom pair out of position? 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?

What about if you have 33 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?

So yes, you had correct odds pre flop, if you could get to showdown for something approximating that pre flop investment. But in deep stack situations you can’t. You still have 3 betting rounds before you get to fifth street.

But that leads to the second 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. 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. This is where you should be measuring up your opponents stack.. 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. If they have a big pair and I have little connectors, I am okay with that. It’s actually a good thing for them to have pocket aces when I am playing connectors to a raise. 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. This may be an opportunity to play passively checking and calling if you haven’t had a low pair.

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. Now he has physical tells to work with, and, as mentioned, he is Gus Hansen. We don’t have physical tells and we are not 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.

To sum it up, pre-flop pot odds are less important than post flop implied 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.