Getting trapped in hands in Limit Holdem

One of the most dangerous traps inexperienced players fall into is when they attempt to employ a “looser” style of play they have seen employed by another player. Poker is a game rife with machismo, which makes this an all too common problem: Players simply refuse to acknowledge that another player might be better than they are, and therefore are able to make a profit with hands you cannot.

I’m going to use a fairly simple example to illustrate this point: The hand I will use is K9s in a game of Limit Holdem. Now, K9s is not the worst hand you could hold, but it is far from the best hand, and at best extremely marginal. So, suppose there is a limper, and you decide to limp along with this mediocre holding. Unfortunately for you, this is where things often go awry: The pot gets raised by another player, everyone else folds except for the initial limper, so you find yourself calling another bet, because the pot odds dictate you call getting 6.5-to-1. My friend, you have just been trapped!

The problem with this hand isn’t when you flop a flush draw or other strong hand; the problem is when you flop pretty-good, like a King, or a 9. This is enough of a problem when the pot hasn’t been raised and no one has shown strength (and could be sitting on a hand like A9/KT/KJ/KQ): When this happens in a raised pot you are in a world of trouble. Often times the pot-odds are such that you are almost forced to call the pre-flop aggressor down: your initial loose call has turned you into a calling station –calling the pre-flop raise because of pot-odds, and then calling when you catch a piece of the flop.

This is one of the reasons I feel players –especially new players—need to be very fastidious with their hand selection, and avoid hands that have a high domination factor like K9s or AT, or even A2-9s. The ability to play these hands comes with experience, and good reads on your opponents. For the up-and-coming player these types of hands will be your biggest profit eaters. Sure, you will do very well when they flop good, but it’s the times you are playing A6s and flop an Ace that will really deplete your chip stack. Very few players are able to let top pair go unless they are faced with multiple bets.

It’s a far better idea to play small pairs and suited connectors that are easy to fold after the flop; you either have something worth chasing, or you don’t! Hands like K9s and A7s leave you with more questions than answers when they flop top-pair.

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