These hands are taken from the new, expanded edition of Internet Texas Hold'em: Winning Strategies for Full-Ring and Short-Handed Games. Take this quiz to test your skills. These are limit hold'em hands at the limits shown.
1. 25¢-50¢: You hold the A 3 in middle position. Three players call from early position, you call, and the big blind checks. Five players see the flop of 9 7 2. The player under the gun bets, the next player calls, and the next player raises. There is $2.35 in the pot. What should you do?
Answer: You have the nut-flush draw, an overcard, and a backdoor-straight draw. There are already three opponents who have committed chips to the pot, and you should win this hand at least one in three times. Every bet that goes into the pot on the flop adds to your expectation. Reraising also has the potential benefit of buying you a free card on the turn. In addition, the reraise might get a hand like A-7 to fold, giving you two more potential outs to the ace. Reraise.
In the actual hand, the player reraised and two players called. The turn was a queen and the player took a free card, and hit the flush on the river.
2. 25¢-50¢: You post in the cutoff and are dealt the A 10. Three players call and the player to your right raises. You call, the big blind calls, and one of the players in early position folds (never fold to a single raise before the flop once you have limped). Everyone else calls and five players see the flop of 9 7 2. The big blind bets, a middle-position player raises, the next player folds, and the original raiser calls. There is $4.10 in the pot. What should you do?
Answer: You have the nut-flush draw and two overcards. At a minimum, you have eight outs to the nut flush. The 9 doesn't give you the nuts, but gives you a very strong hand. You also have six outs to your overcards, although you must discount them. There are already three players who have committed chips to the pot, and you have a much better than 1-in-4 chance of having the best hand by the river. Reraise your big draw.
In the actual hand, the player reraised and hit an ace on the turn, only to lose to a full house on the river.
3. $1-$2: You are dealt the A 3 in middle position. An early-position player calls, a middle-position player calls, you call, and the big blind checks. Four players see the flop of J 8 8. The big blind bets, and the early- and middle-position players call. There is $7.50 in the pot. What should you do?
Answer: Usually, this would be a situation for a raise. There are three opponents already in the pot, you are the only player left to act, you have position, and you have an ace-high flush draw. However, the pair on the board complicates the situation a little. You could very well have only seven outs as opposed to nine (or even 12). With nine outs, you are 2-to-1 against improving, so you gain positive expectation by raising against three or more opponents. However, with only seven outs, you are about 2.6-to-1 against improving. If you were 3-to-1, you would be indifferent since you would win 25 percent of time and you are one of four players in the pot. At 2.6-to-1, you have a slightly positive expectation. However, you have to discount your outs slightly more since you could improve to a flush but lose to a full house. For example, if the J falls, a flush is pretty much useless. After discounting, your expectation on the flop is pretty close to even in terms of additional bets going into the pot. Raising could buy you a free card, but on the other hand, you also risk a reraise from someone sitting on trips.
What should you do? In the worst-case scenario of seven outs, you aren't a terrible underdog and you don't lose much by raising. In the best-case scenario, you have 12 outs. Raise.
4. $1-$2: You are dealt the 8 7 in the small blind. The under-the-gun player raises, a middle-position player calls, and you make a questionable call. The big blind folds and three players see the flop of A 10 3. You check, the raiser bets, and the middle-position player calls. There is $9 in the pot. What should you do?
Answer: You have nine outs, which is about 2-to-1 against improving. Against two opponents, you are indifferent to whether more bets go into the pot, since you win about 33 percent of the time, which is a break-even situation given that you are contributing one of three bets that go into the pot. When you have big draws, you always should consider whether aggression gives you a chance of winning the pot on later streets. For example, if the board is K-9-4, you might get hands like A-Q, Q-J, or 8-8 to fold by the river if you show aggression. However, in this hand, given the bet and the call on the flop, it is doubtful that you can win this pot without a showdown. Also, by raising, you risk that the original raiser will reraise, forcing the other opponent to fold. In this case, you would lose expectation against only one opponent. There is also the problem that you are out of position in the hand. Call.
In the actual hand, the player called and hit the flush on the turn, and decided to bet out.
5. $1-$2: You are dealt the 10 9 in early position. The two other players in early position call, you call, the button calls, the small blind calls, and the big blind checks. Six players see the flop of 8 6 5. The small blind bets, the big blind raises, the under-the-gun player calls, and the next player folds. There is $11 in the pot. What should you do?
Answer: You have a very big draw with a strong flush draw and gutshot-straight draw. You also have two overcards. With 12 strong outs and three opponents already in the pot, you should try to maximize the bets that go into the pot. You also have position on the bettor and raiser, so reraising might buy a free card on the turn. Reraise.
In the actual hand, the player called and everyone checked the turn. The player hit the flush on the river, and got one caller.
This article originally appeared on www.cardplayer.com.
This article first appeared in Card Player magazine.
Matthew is the owner of Dimat Enterprises, “Publishing Today’s Best Poker Books”. The Math of Hold’em by Collin Moshman and Douglas Zare is available now at pokerbooks.InternetTexasHoldem.com.