Today I want to talk about understanding why you are taking a certain line and what you should be looking to achieve with regards to various plays that you can make. Let us start off by looking at a hand example taken from $0.50-$1.00 no limit hold’em played at six max. The first player folds and the next player raises to $3.50 with a 100bb stack. The cut-off player folds and now you have Kc-Qc on the button also with a 100bb stack and you want to know what the best play is. Well there is no correct single best play when looked at in isolation.
What you need to be looking at here is a complete spectrum of plays that also include post flop lines as well. Remember that what happens post flop is directed mainly by what has happened pre-flop. Let us first look at the very popular play of re-raising to something like 3-4 times your opponents raise. There is nothing wrong with this and you will capture a high number of $5 profits many times when all of your opponents fold. This is the only play that can take the pot down pre-flop and why it is so popular.
But if you only ever three bet then your more observant opponents will quickly catch onto that and start calling your three bets more often or even four betting you with lighter holdings. So you need to balance three betting with other players but getting back to three betting and the most likely reaction that you will see is for your opponents to fold or for the original raiser to call the raise which is the next likely event. The least likely events are to get four bet in terms of the probability of that happening.
However you can call the raise as well but many people shy away from that play because when their opponent c-bets the flop and they have missed then they are forced to fold or continue on with very little equity. This may seem weak on the surface to simply call a pre-flop raise only to then release on the flop. But once again this is a mistake and short term thinking. If your opponent is raising with say 25% of their total range then your K-Qs stands up very well against that range and calling allows you to use your position as a weapon post flop.
Many players will routinely fire c-bets into the flop whatever arrives and there will be many flops where you will stand very well against your opponents range. For example on a board of K-9-4 then you have around 76% equity if your opponent fires with 100% of their range blindly. So those $7 losses pre-flop are compensated for by making larger amounts post flop when you connect. This is especially the case if your opponent fires a second barrel trying to force you away from the pot. So remember that you have options both pre-flop and post flop in no limit hold’em cash games.