(Distributed Feb. 21, 2006)
PLAYER ASKS: SHOULD I GET MY LONE REBUY RIGHT AWAY?
Big pocket pairs get a player’s blood pumping, but Jay S. wants to know how to play K-K from the blinds in a $3-$6 hold’em game.
* Hey LuckyDog: When I pick up K-K in the blinds and raise, everyone just calls and I get chased down. What should I do?
Jay, since you get to act last before the flop (the first three community cards), whether you raise depends on what you think it will accomplish. In low-limit hold’em, with multiple callers already in ahead of you, a raise won’t knock anyone out.
Your raise will, however, create the beginning of a monster pot and tie several opponents to their hands. This is great if you flop trips, an 8 to 1 shot, and the board doesn’t threaten straights and flushes.
On the other hand, if the flop comes with an Ace but no help for you, you’ll be happy you didn’t raise because someone probably is in there with A-x and now has the lead.
What happens after an Ace flops depends on how you like to play. Since you’re first to act after the flop, you could check and then fold if you think the bettor has an Ace (that’s pretty conservative). You also could check and call any bet, hoping you’re ahead (reasonable, since the pot is pretty big ).
But if you like aggressive play, how about a check-raise – especially if the bet comes from a late-position player? That way, your double bet might thin the field. If the bettor has a weak Ace, he probably won’t re-raise for fear you have an Ace with a better kicker (side card in your hand).
Your check-raise might allow you to see the last two community cards for free, saving two $6 bets. If your opponent does re-raise, you’re likely against Aces-up or trips, and you must hit a King (an 11 to 1 shot with two cards to come).
Another option is to come out firing on the flop despite that ugly Ace on the board. If only one player calls, consider leading with a bet on the turn (the fourth community card), then checking the river (the last up card). If multiple players call, consider checking the turn and staying in the hand until you’re certain you’re beat.
* Tony E. asks: When should I re-buy in a no-limit hold’em tournament if only one is allowed? Is it best to get the re-buy right away to have a chip advantage from the start?
I don’t think so, Tony.
Yes, your early chip position would be favorable. But before long, the chips at the table will be redistributed and a couple of players will be able to bust you on a single hand.
The main reason you’d favor a bigger starting stack is if you plan to bully the table during the first two levels. However, players with their re-buy still available aren’t going to fold quality hands to your aggression. Lose one or two of those confrontations and you’re the one busted out.
Also, stealing the smallish blinds — forced bets, like antes — the first several levels with big pre-flop bets isn’t that beneficial. The chance of running into a big hand makes the attempt too risky. It’s better to play somewhat tight early and save your re-buy for later. That way, if a good hand of yours gets snapped off, you’re not out of the tournament.
* From Don D.: I’ve heard several players in low-limit hold’em say they’ll play any hand that has a name, like the Varkonyi (Q-10), the Moneymaker (5-4) or the Texas Dolly (10-2). Does that make any sense?
Only if you don’t like money, Don. Yes, these famous hands all won a World Series main event championship, but chances are slim that you can bring them home in a $4-$8 game.
The only hand with a name that I recommend you always play is American Airlines (A-A). Just watch out for the guy playing a Dolly Parton (9-5) who flops a 6-7-8!
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