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Knowing when to fold

Learning when to fold is one of the crucial decision making factors that determines a good player from a better one. Folding poor cards is easy. Folding marginal hands at the right time is an acquired art, but when players know when to fold their good hands, that is when they are approaching top standard poker play.

Whichever game you are playing (Hold´em or Omaha), many of the key betting decisions are made before the community cards are seen, and in no-limit and pot-limit games, you may need to use your whole stack to get to the flop. Taking consideration of the players around you and the way in which they have bet in previous hands is crucial to deciding if you are prepared to go the whole way (if needs be) with your premium starting hand. The same point can be made if you are holding a marginal hand and a large bet will capture the pot without the flop being drawn. Flop limit games are a bit simpler to determine. Unless you hold rubbish, get to the flop as economically as possible and play according to what comes out.

In tournament play, folding at the right time can save you plenty of chips that you can use for later – although you may kick yourself when you fold according to the odds of the table, just to see the card that would complete your nuts hand, and give you a monster pot, come out on the river. Nonetheless, it still creates the right impression that you are a tight player and do not go chasing draws and flushes on a whim.  Your tight persona will allow you to bluff successfully later on in the game. A lot is said about good tight players seeing just 20-25% of flops during a multi-table poker tournament, and although it is a good discipline to keep down the number of hands you play pre-flop, there is no point in folding for the sake of it. Inasmuch as new players to the game initially always call too many pre-flop bets due to their enthusiasm, it can work against you to play too few as well. In turbo and re-buy tournaments in particular, playing too conservatively will get you too far behind the leaders and, as the blinds increase, it will be virtually impossible to make an impact.

The old maxim “If it´s not good enough to raise with – fold it” mostly rings true, particularly when the cost of calling is more than what your hand is worth. There can be no hard and fast rules about what scenarios are good examples and which are bad. Players will always win good pots with nothing and lose better ones when their opponents should never have been in the game. That is poker – you will never win anything if you are not in the game, but remember “he who folds and runs away, lives to fold another day!”

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