One of the ways that novice poker players lose money when they play higher levels is by leaving too much money in the pot and then folding. Using tracking software allows us to see the effect of this in terms of what are known as “non-showdown winnings”.
If this is a negative then you are simply placing too much money into the pot and then folding. For example you could be calling raises pre-flop with a fit or fold game plan.
Another way is to call post flop bets and then give up. For example imagine if a player raises you from the button in a NL50 full ring game. Clearly an average player will have quite a wide range here but imagine if you called from the big blind with both players having a 100bb stack before the hand begins.
The Next Poker Play
Your hand is the 10c-8c and the flop comes 9c-4c-2d. You check and your opponent c-bets 5.5bb into the 7.5bb pot and you call. The turn card is the Ks and you check again and this time your opponent bets 18bb into the 18.5bb pot and with only one further card left to hit your draw you fold.
Many players would not realise the error of their play here but here is the key issue……there is nothing massively wrong with how you played this hand.
You were fine to call the pre-flop raise although it was marginal and you were also fine to fold to the turn barrel with only one card to come.
The problem could arise however if you continually take this fit or fold game plan into your other hands. In poker you are always better off giving yourself two chances to win.
Tournament Poker Analogy
This is never more seen than in tournament poker and STT’s where towards the later stages players prefer to shove all-in than call all-in.
You would be wrong to call an all-in with a hand like 10-6s with an 8bb stack but if it was folded around to you on the button then you would be equally wrong not to shove all-in as first to speak.
Picking up 1.5bb represents an increase of almost a quarter of your stack and if the blinds are medium stacked then they will even fold hands as strong as A-J when you have enough chips to cripple them.
So here we can see how giving ourselves more chances to win is vitally important. Good players make sure that they push all-in rather than can all-in.
Cash Game Concept
This same concept applies in cash games as well. In the previous hand example then our hero only gave himself one chance to win……he had to hit his hand. A better play would have been to put the onus on his opponent and check-raise the flop.
This gives him two chances to win, his opponent can fold or he can make his hand. In reality of course he could have more chances to win because he could check-raise the flop and then bet the turn which gives him three chances to win the hand.
A weak player simply only gives himself one chance to win the hand. This is not always a negative though for the simple reason that sometimes implied odds can compensate for you only having one way to win the hand.
For example if a player bets £7 into a £10 pot and gets three callers on a board of 10c-9c-7h with you holding the Ac-4c then you have very little fold equity by raising with so many opponents clearly showing an interest in their hand. So in this instance then calling and giving yourself only one chance to win is fine.