laying down the best hand
Laying down the best hand in a poker game? That’s crazy! Why would anyone do that? In a cash poker game, you would never intentionally lay down the best hand, unless you somehow calculated that the odds of your hand remaining the best hand by the river were worse for you than the pot odds you were getting. In Texas holdem freerolls (and other tournaments) however, believe it or not, situations can arise where a player may consider and actually even follow through with laying down the best hand.
So you see, there are some situations both when you play Texas holdem online and in a brick-and-mortar casino where you should considering laying down the best hand in a tournament.
Poker legend Jack "Treetop" Strauss famously tells of one example. It was close to the bubble of a tournament, and with a big stack, Strauss was collecting tons of chips. All of his opponents were afraid of busting out just before the money, so Strauss was able to pick up nearly every pot he contested. In one hand, a player moved all-in. Since Strauss had a strong hand and the price was relatively cheap, he called and won the hand. At the break, he was inconsolable. Even though he was chip leader and guaranteed money, he realized that if he had folded the hand, the bubble play would have continued and he could have collected a lot more chips.
Another example where regular Texas holdem strategy doesn’t always apply, concerns moving up in money.
For example, you are at the final table of a big tournament with six players left, but you are the short stack. You are in the small blind and four people move all-in ahead of you. You have pocket Aces. Do you call? Many players will say no in this situation. Should you call and lose, which is certainly possible with four opponents, you will be eliminated, and receive a relatively small percentage of the prize pool for a final table finish. On the other hand, if the largest stack wins, you will suddenly find yourself moving from the short stack to third place money, a huge jump financially. In a $10,000 tournament with around 500 players, sixth place may receive less than $200,000 whereas third place might pay over half a million. This difference certainly makes dropping those aces an attractive prospect, although many pros are only interested in first and are willing to risk the drop in prize money in order to take their best chance to win.
Finally, a skilled professional may choose to lay down the best hand like KK pre-flop in the first round of a big tournament if they have not yet built up their stack.
Going all in pre-flop does not give a pro an opportunity to use any of their skills. If someone goes all-in against Daniel Negreanu in the first hand of the World Series of Poker main event, he may consider laying down pocket Kings.
This is because he can expect most hands to go to a flop where he can outplay his opponents and earn the 10,000 chips he would get by winning the hand, without risking immediate elimination before getting a chance to put his tremendous skills into play.
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