Poker Lesson 33

The difference between small pots and big pots
This will be a short lesson, but one containing an enormously vital truth. If you stick to it, you will win more – but perhaps more importantly also lose less, in the long run.

The lesson can be summed up as follows: If you want to play at small pots, you can do so with small cards – but playing at big pots requires big cards.

With a very large chip stack, say 100 x the size of the big blind or more, you can bet out or raise even with mediocre cards: if things work out you may win the small pot, and if you are raised or re-raised you can usually fold your hand without feeling bad about it – it will not have cost you very much.

One such situation is raising with Q-10 from middle position pre-flop, after it has been folded all the way to you. Another such situation is when the pot was not raised in the first betting round, you took a chance and called from the small blind holding only 8-4, and now the flop comes 10-4-6 in three different suits: even though you only hold bottom pair and small cards, it may very well be worth betting out now that you act first after the flop – chances are the flop did not hit anyone else's hand better.

If however the raising was very heavy in the first round, you instead need big cards – usually meaning a high pair or A-K – to stay in. Same thing if you stay in to see the flop: if there is heavy betting after the flop, merely having hit bottom or middle pair is definitely not enough. Sometimes even having top pair with a strong kicker is not enough, if the betting indicates two pairs or trips.

Remember this: the bigger the pot grows in poker, the bigger your cards must be, and the better "hits" you need, in order to stay in and fight on.