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Adjusting to Small Pots


In small pots going too far with weak hands is expensive. You can bet marginal hands on the flop to try to pick up the pot, but if you are raised, usually release your hand immediately or on fourth street if you do not improve. If an opponent is betting or raising, you need to be fairly confident that you have the best hand or a strong draw to call. This principle is especially true after the bet size doubles on the turn. Many loose players repeatedly make the mistake of calling down with weak hands in small pots. In a small pot if you think you have a close decision between continuing and  folding, tend to  fold

The flop is giving you top pair, no kicker. The passive small blind bets. You should usually fold. You have top pair, but, if the small blind or one of the players behind you also has a ten, you are drawing to three outs. The board is somewhat coordinated, and four over cards can come to your pair; even if you do have the best hand now, someone will often draw out on you. Folding the best hand in this tiny pot is not a big mistake, but calling down when you are drawing to only three outs is.

You also need to be more selective with your weak drawing hands when the pot is small. Say you limp from early position with J•T•. Two players limp behind you, the small blind calls, and the big blind checks (5 small bets). The flop is Qr8•4• giving you a gut-shot and a backdoor flush draw. The small blind checks, and the big blind bets. You are getting 6-to-1 on a call, but you should probably fold. If you knew that it would not be raised behind you, then you could call. Your hand has just enough strength to take a card off when you are getting 6-to-1 plus implied odds, especially if a couple of opponents might call behind you. Unfortunately, any of the three players yet to act could raise. It is too costly to risk sometimes paying two or three bets to see the turn.

With a weak draw in a small pot, you have little margin for error. If all goes according to plan, your potential reward is small. If someone raises unexpectedly or has you drawing dead, though, the cost is relatively high. Avoid taking chances with weak draws in small pots.

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