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Saving the Last Bet

To become a successful poker player you should understand that part of poker winning comes from losing less than others would with the same hand. However, good players save their money by just throwing out the losers early. But he might have played and even bet his hand from the starting to the end yet still finds that he should throw away his hand for one last bet.

Saving a single bet on the end when you have a good hand is something that learners sometimes consider. If, suppose, they have been betting all the way and are now raised on the end, they call automatically. They will similarly call automatically with a good hand if someone bets into them. This is because they are usually right in doing so. When the pot becomes big you should call that last bet (in a limit game) even if you know that you are probably beaten. Even if the chances of having the best hand are 10 or 15 percent, you still show profit by calling. Game Theory suggests that you should almost always call if the pot is large.

Conversely, it sometimes happens that your chances of having the best hand (even when you have a good hand) are far lass than 10 or 15 percent. They can be almost absent or perhaps very small. It is at this time that calling on the end is like throwing money in the garbage. Experts have learned to identify these situations and save a bet. Finally these bets add quite a lot of easy gaming money and add that much more to the winnings.

There are other situations where it is foolish to pay off that last bet. We shall discuss two such situations. One thing that makes most of these situations identical is that the bettor is positive that he will be called. Hence, if he still bets you should have a good hand.

The first situation occurs when you seem to have a good hand and have been betting all the way. If your rival raises you on the end you should throw away your fairly good hand. For example, if you stand pat in draw poker with a small straight, come out betting, and are raised by a one-card draw, you should fold the straight. Those who are maniac or very sophisticated player (who knows that you are capable of folding a pat hand) would raise without having you beat. Therefore save a bet!

The second situation arises when he is up against a "live one" who will never throw his hand away. If you find yourself in multi-way pot with this live one and also another player or players, you should throw an average hand away if one of these players bets while the live one is still in the pot. As the bettor hopes to get called you can eliminate the possibility that he is poker bluffing and thus don't have to keep him honest.

Good players maximize their winnings by sometimes saving a bet on the end where few players will automatically "pay off." (However, you had better be very sure that you are beat to make the fold with all those bets out there in the pot already. Otherwise you lose money in the long run.) We have mentioned few situations where good players save a bet on the end. We will discuss one more. It is a situation that all great players know about, but not too many other players know that.

The main idea behind this situation is this: If the player expects he has the best hand (on the end) but he is not sure, he will not put any more money in the pot than he has to. He only puts more money in the pot than he has to if he is sure his hand is the best hand or almost sure his hand is the worst.

In practice, it means that it you bet a good hand into what you know is also fairly good hand on the end you should fold if you are raised! He has much better hand than you expected and you shouldn't pay him off unless your hand is better than he thinks. The importance to your folding is that your rival suspected he could win by calling, yet he raised. Why will he risk an extra bet when he has a calling hand? In simple words, if a players raised (or check-raised) with a hand that you know was surely at least a call you can be sure you are beaten.

Suppose you are playing seven card stud and a player showing an open pair (who you know has at least two pair) checks to your three-card flush showing when all the cards are out. If he check-raises you, you should throw away your flush. He could have just called, but he didn't.

An example can be seen in lowball draw. You draw one card and make an eight-five low and continue to bet into a pat hand. If he raises you should fold. He doesn't know what you made. You could have made a monster hand. In other words, you should be bluffing. With a decent hand, he can call and might win. Why will he risk a raise?

The strategy discussed also applies to players who bet when they suspect they could simply check at the showdown and win with an average hand. If they bet at this point, their hand is not so average, especially if you checked "in the dark." Suppose you open in a jacks-or-better draw poker game with two kings and get called by an aggressive player. You both draw three cards hence you know he has two aces. If your rival bets you can throw away kings up. He would have checked if you he didn't improve, excepting to win at the showdown.

There are few words of caution. First remember that you can only make these tough folds when you know your rival is having a decent hand. If he has nothing then his bet would just be a bluff. Also if he comes out betting in early position it isn't the same as if he bets after you check. He may bet average hand in an early position (that he would have checked if he was last) only because he "has to call." A raise with an obvious calling hand is a correct sign of strength in any position.

Secondly, you can't fold all the time against extremely bad or very good rivals. The reason is quite apparent. However, when you are against world-class online poker players you can turn the play on them. Raise with a calling hand. Bet with a checking hand. You may have the best hand but your play could very well win you the pot even if you don't have the best hand.

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