Question: I had one tough spot in $1/$2 no-limit hold 'em. You don't know the table dynamics, but I want to get an opinion. I post the big blind from middle position with 7-6 offsuit. It's limped around like eight ways. The flop is 8-6-5 rainbow, and it's checked to me. I bet $10 and get five callers. The turn is a 4, and the small blind leads for $50. It folds to me. I flat-call, and we're heads up. The river is a K, he jams and has me covered. What should I have done?
Answer: Well, the short answer would be that I'm folding based on the positions.
Imagine if you were the guy in the small blind and you flop the nuts in multiway action. You check and everyone else checks to the button, who bets $10. You just call, but then three more guys call in between you and the bettor. There's no way you would check again being first to act on the turn, so you lead out and hope all hell breaks loose.
With this type of board in low-limit cash games, you realize many players will make huge mistakes on the turn, but you have to give them a chance to do so.
With your situation, you probably should have mucked your hand on the turn, because your decision was the same at that point as it would be on the river in most cases. The bottom line is, you're only beating a stone-cold bluff, you tie with an identical straight most other times, and you lose everything sometimes.
The key, especially leaving out player history, is to realize how much
If somebody calls the $50 in front of you on the turn and the other two players fold, the math starts to get better for you in terms of EV (expected value), because at that point, it would be logical to assume one guy has a draw and two of you have the straight. However, it's still a fold on the turn. You have to assume you aren't winning the entire pot, so in order to make money with three-way action, you'd need the third guy to commit to a large bet to make the chop worthwhile and make up for the times you lose all.
The tricky part is getting a player who doesn't have a straight to put in money on the turn. There are hands that guys won't fold on the turn that you can squeeze a little bit from, but then you can't be aggressive on the river to try to increase your value. Let's say you raised on the turn to add some value to your hand in the long term. Now, on the river, if they both checked, you would be unable to bet again. The only players willing to add money to the pot at that point would have either the same hand as you or better. Betting the river there is like burning money.
Your performance in situations like this one will determine whether you can be a winning player over the long haul. Poker is a constant puzzle and acquiring the pieces of the puzzle that would help you grasp the underlying fundamentals of a hand like this should be your goal.
Scott Fischman has won two World Series of Poker bracelets and has accumulated nearly $3 million in career earnings. He is also the author of the poker book "Online Ace." Send your poker questions to him on Twitter: @scottfischman88.