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In Praise of Pre-Flop Folding

Preflop is a touchy time for some poker players. Loose players want to play every hand they have, while tight players want to embrace their inner rock. Who is right and who is wrong in the preflop shuffle?

Both players are. You see, there is a time and a place to fold your hand, and there’s a time and a place to bet on your hand. To look at the situation without looking at starting hands would really be a disservice.

However, we’re here to speak out on the benefits of pre-flop folding. Now, we just got done telling you that sometimes you just have to go all in and bet hard on your hand. We’re not saying that folding takes away that principle in the slightest. What we are saying though is that you really need to make sure that you think carefully about the type of situation that you walk into within each poker game.

Pre-Flop Folding

Starting hands are going to be your best starting place to really make sure that you have the right hand before you decide whether to fold or not. If you just play every hand that you come across, you’re going to be seen as a loose player that is just a big calling station. As you know from other guides, a calling station is exactly the type of player that we want to avoid becoming.

You need to also think about the possible hands that everyone else could play as well. Is your hand really as strong as what could be on the table? For example, if you have a 2-6 in your hand, you really don’t want to keep that. Hoping and praying that your luck is going to change really isn’t going to get you what you need at all. You might get lucky and get enough connectors to make a straight, but what usually happens is two pair — and neither one of the potential pairs are going to be any good. Maybe you’ll get really lucky and get a freak flop where you can get a full house or three of a kind, but those are so rare that it’s much more intelligent to fold.

Folding doesn’t mean that you’re a weak poker player. A lot of newcomers to the world of poker assume that if they’re folding any hands that it means that they are obviously weak poker players, but this is really not the case at all. It’s a lot smarter to fold when you know that the odds are against you than to just assume that you will always be making the right calls the first time out of the gate. You need to step back and look at your opponents too — chances are good that they’re not folding every hand like you are, but that they are playing their hands selectively.

There is much to praise about folding a hand pre-flop, especially when you know that you don’t have a strong hand going in. You might be tempted like many players to call just to make sure that you can see what the flop is going to be like. While it seems like an innocent move, the truth is that if you aren’t careful you’ll end up spending a lot of money over the long run. When you start playing poker for money, you also start thinking about it in terms of real dollars and cents — at least you should. When you call into a flop where you know that you have weak hands, you’re basically saying that you don’t mind throwing good money after bad pots. Advanced players are going to pick up on this and make sure that they either bluff you out, or otherwise intimidate you. This kills your bankroll, and what is the most important concept of poker?

Managing your bankroll, of course! Now, if you’re tired of us talking about the almighty bankroll, that’s fine, but it really is that important. It really is that critical. It is really is that special. You don’t want to end up overlooking this point and leaving yourself exposed — it’s so much easier to just make sure that you are only going into pots where you feel like there’s a good chance that you’ll win big.

At the end of the day, we can’t overlook our good friend luck in all of this. Even if you make sure that your strategy is where it needs to be, you can’t overlook the fact that sometimes the board moves against you. You fold 2-7 because it’s the smart thing to do, only to find that the flop comes down as 7-7-3 or something equally wacky. Throwing away a potential for three of a kind or better is tough, but the math supports you folding that 2-7. Leave the luck to someone with big pockets that doesn’t mind throwing money away and pocket the rest for yourself — that’s really all there is to it!

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