So, you’re playing in a tournament, and you understand that defending your big blind is a priority. But let’s say you have a weak hand? How should you strategize after the flop? Here are some tips that will help you force your opponents to pay for opening light for your big blind.
You don’t have to continue every time
Each time you connect with the board, you don’t have to check-call. Each situation is different, and sometimes folding is the right choice. Just because you call pre-flop doesn’t mean you shouldn’t fold on the flop, even though that fold might seem counterintuitive. In fact, if you overfold at this point, your range at the turn and the river will become more competitive.
Don’t overbluff when your range has shown a lot of draws
If you bet with too many draws, you can end up overbluffing, and your opponent can take advantage of this through calling down light. It is worth noting, of course, that check-folding on a draw is a possible chance that you have thrown away. If you have the lowest straight draws (53, 54 and 43) you should check-fold. When you have high straight draws (K9 and KJ), then you should check-call or check-raise. If you have hands like 87, 97 and J8, you should go fifty-fifty. With combo draws, J9 and 98, you should bet.
Slow-play some of your top hands to shield your calling range
Even the best players are more likely to fold more often than they should when facing river barrels. This is an expensive error to make because the river generally features the largest pot.
You can avoid this mistake in one of two ways. If you fold big a lot on the river with top pair and similar hands, if you call down more often your win rate should go up. If you start check-calling with some of your strong hands on the earlier streets, your range will be more effective by the time you hit the river.
It may take some time to get used to calling at the river with a big bet with a hand that is not particularly solid, but it is something that you will have to work in occasionally given the fact that the general poker playing population is improving in skill. However, if you have determined that your opponent does not bluff, keep those big folds coming, because you don’t want to hand him your chips.
Don’t forget the range advantage that you can get from board pairing cards. When the turn pairs the middle or bottom card, you get a range advantage that allows you to lead small within just about your whole range. You can do this without having to bring three ranges in balance at the same time.
Hopefully incorporating these tips into your poker game will bring your win-rate up a few percentage points, and cut losses defending a weak hand. Even incremental gains can end up turning a losing streak into a better day, and moving momentum in your direction is a huge win.
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