When Raising or Folding is the Best Option and Calling is No Option At All

by Lou on March 3, 2006

A friend of mine sent these questions to me. They’re interesting enough to answer here, and all of them deal with hands where folding or raising are better options than calling.

Question 1: I raised before the flop to open the betting from middle position. Only the big blind calls, and I have no real read on him. He bets out into me when a ragged but connected flop appears. What would you do?

Answer: I’ve got to think his bet on the flop is probably an attempt to steal the pot from you because he’s probably thinking that you raised with two big cards and were not helped by the flop at all. You can eliminate the possibility of his having flopped a set, because if he did, you wouldn’t hear from him until the turn.

While there’s always the chance the flop did hit him, it probably didn’t hit him hard enough to eliminate the possibilities of catching him if the turn pairs one of your big cards. This is one of those raise or fold scenarios, where calling is the only option that makes no sense at all. If you raise, you have to come out betting the turn regardless of what falls, so you are committing one small and one big bet to the confrontation. Folding allows you to get out with only the loss of your earlier raise. Calling only gets you a ticket to the turn, which doesn’t figure to help you.

My inclination would be to raise based on the supposition that your opponent is putting a play on you, and to come out betting the turn too. On the other hand, if he bets, you raise, and he reraises and you don’t have enough of a read on him to know whether he’s a raise-infected maniac, you’ll probably have to credit him with a real hand and fold yours.

Question 2: This is a similar situation. I raised before the flop with three or four opponents, and the flop is a three-flush that missed me. The blinds check, and early position player bets out and I am in late middle position with A-K. What would you do?

Answer: First of all, it’s not really a similar situation. You’ve got three or four callers and that changes a lot of the dynamics. With three or four callers you have to assume that the flop will have helped someone, and you can figure there is at least one player out there who is now drawing to a flush. It may not be the nut flush, but it might be good enough to keep playing, especially if no one raises. You have a very fine line to walk. Let’s look at the possibilities:

  • If a fourth suited card were to turn, you are almost assuredly dead.
  • You might already be dead to a made flush.
  • The flop almost surely helped someone; your A-K is no longer in the lead.
  • If someone flopped a pair and an ace comes, giving you top pair, it might also give someone two pair (the king could accomplish that too, though it is much less likely that someone would see the flop with K-x than with A-x, so an ace is a much more dangerous card for you).

To win this pot, you have to dodge a flush, catch an ace or a king that does not give someone else two pair, and say a little prayer that someone didn’t flop a flush and have you drawing pretty close to dead.

This hand is a clear fold. There are better spots to risk your money.

Question 3: I raise from early position with A-Q and only the big blind calls. The flop is K-x-x and he bets into me. Do you call here?

Answer: Nope. I won’t call. I’ll either fold or raise. This is another one of those hands where raising or folding are a lot better options than calling.

A lot of this decision is going to be predicated on your read of your opponent as well as how you think he reads you. If you raise and are not reraised, you can assume that your opponent does not have a good king, and if you come out betting on the turn you have a good chance of seizing control of the hand and winning the pot right there.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: