Let me start out with the major theme behind this entire article: Do not slow play a great starting hand before the flop in Hold’Em or Omaha.
It is important to make people pay to see the card if you have the best hand. This is especially true of the small and big blind. It takes a bet of at least three times the big blind at most tables to scare out the blinds.
The argument I hear all the time is, “don’t I want the most people and money in the hand when I have great hole cards?” Absolutely not. Let’s look at an example.
You are dealt pocket Kings in a 10 player No-Limit Hold’Em game. This hand is the second best starting hand you can be dealt, but by no means is it unbeatable. Technically, it is very easily beaten, but it is important to know the cards your opponents have which is why you raise pre-flop. Let’s take a look at two scenarios, both of which you lose.
In scenario one you limp in (just pay the blind) with the two kings, and 5 other people call the big blind. A perfect rainbow (three different suits) flop shows up for you with a three, eight and Queen. Nobody will be staying in to chase a flush or a straight. You bet twice the amount in the pot and two players call your bet. The turn is also very nice for you, a two. You bet hard again, dropping one of the other players, but the last remaining player raises. Now you are in trouble. All of a sudden your sneaky top pair has turned into just a pair. You can’t afford to fold at this point, there is too much money in the pot and your opponent may just have Queen/Ace. Your hand still has a decent chance of winning. Now you have to call the raise and give control to your opponent. There are a lot of hands that can beat you, but very few that could have beaten you if more than the big blind was required to stay in the hand. The player could have two Threes. The player could have Queen/Two. The big blind didn’t have to pay anything to stay in the hand, he or she may be holding a Three/Eight offsuit. You have no idea and the results could be disastrous costing you a lot of money.
In scenario two you bet three times the big blind before the fop. Now you have only two other players call the bet and the blinds both fold. The flop is terrible for you; Ace, four, three with two hearts. The good news is you made the other two players pay a pretty substantial amount of money to stay in, so you can be pretty sure at this point one of them has an Ace. You gained a tremendous amount of information before the flop by making them both pay to see the hand. The way you decide to play the hand from here on out may give you a chance to take this pot, but you probably will not be winning it with the best hand.
You are going to lose with big hands, but your chances of winning increase with every person you convince to drop out. Pocket Aces are much more powerful against one other player than five. Anyone who bellyaches when they limp in and lose to junk with a great hand simply needs to learn this simple lesson to become a more successful poker player.