Giving Up and Turning Points
Giving up isn't a phrase that is often associated with poker, but winning players realize that sometimes a pot reaches a point at which it is no longer worth fighting for. As much as aggressive play is taught, especially today, there's a lot to be said about the ability to slow down. If you are facing a player who you have pinned as tight and/or passive, but cannot seem to get them to fold in a particular hand, it will only make sense to give up and save yourself some money.
The problem that many players have is that they just don't want to come to the realization that they are not going to win a hand. You won't win every hand, so you need to make the most out of the ones that you can and lose the least when you can't.
The crucial thing to remember in all of this is that you shouldn't be giving up before you even get started. For instance, a simple raise ahead of you doesn't mean that you should be running away in fear. It's those spots where only further aggression can win a pot, but is unlikely to actually work, that need to be avoided at all costs. In other words, proper aggression is a matter of picking your spots as effectively as possible. For example, giving up calls for moving on when the situation just isn't right.
Giving Up Pre-Flop
Pre-flop is the easiest time to give up when you look at it from a practicality standpoint. You'll have the least money invested, you won't be forced to continue on, and you won't be very attached to your hand. The problem that comes along with pre-flop play is that there's always the opportunity of the unknown. One of the most interesting and intriguing elements of poker is that even the worst starting hand can turn into the absolute nuts by the time that the river is dealt. These types of possibilities are what allows for weak players to become way too involved with hands that really aren't that valuable.
There are many different spots where you should be looking to dump your hand pre-flop, but they aren't as clear cut as you might hope. The ultimate goal of any move with any hand should be to determine the actual risk and reward that's involved. If you are facing a 3-bet with AK and are out of position against a tight player, you may be in a rare spot where AK should be folded.
Is it smart to fold AK to any 3-bet? No, of course not. Is it even smart to fold AK against a tight player? Not really. The difference lies in the fact that there's both a raise, a re-raise, you are out of position, and the tightest player at the table is showing resistance. A weak player would look at this and say that they need to call and see a flop, but a smart player will have the discipline to simply give it up and move on instead.
Post-Flop Turning Points
Post-flop is where you'll find yourself in a lot more trickier situations where you are more attached to your hand. Once you have approached the post-flop stages of the game, you'll have now invested a significant amount of time, money, and effort into the hand-three things that most players aren't going to be all too keen on sacrificing. This is both where you'll have a chance to make money and lose money. Weak players call off a check raise on the river when they know they are beat, but strong players have the discipline to throw their hand away, even if it's just $50 more into a $250 pot.
Many poker players are suckered in to what I like to call the "bluff vortex." The bluff vortex is created when a player initially raises and plans on making a continuation bet and then giving up, but instead ends up firing out again on the turn and the river as well. Every player will find themselves in these types of situations, and it's more than understandable. At first you feel like you won't want to continue with the pot if you face strong resistance and don't have a strong hand, but then you'll start to realize how much money is at stake and that you have a chance at taking down the pot. It's the temptation of the money in the middle that is enough to throw just about anyone off of their game.
Continuing with the bluff vortex, it's usually the turn or increased flop action that lands the bulk of players in hot water. Though it's hardly always the case, big bets will most often start to develop on the turn. Where the flop is largely a ground used to figure out where opponents stand, it's the turn that is used as a mechanism to get all of the money in the middle or to scare off the other player, depending on whether you are strong or weak. Because of this, the turn needs to be where you really place the most emphasis in just about every hand. Regardless of whether you are looking to extract value or contemplating if it makes sense to fold, the turn will often times be the turning point.
Also keep in mind that just about any decision made on the turn is going to have a direct effect on what happens when the river is dealt. If you have a huge hand and want to stack your opponent, you should be looking to get as much money as possible in the middle while also leaving room for a reasonable river bet. Likewise, a weak hand should be looking to see the river as cheaply as possible. The important thing to remember is that the turn is the point in time where you need to make your decision. Instead of putting yourself in a very difficult spot on the river, sometimes it will be best to simply get out of the way while you still can.
Author: Jonathan Wanchalk
Updated: March 2015
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