Waking Up With Pocket Kâ€™s in Early Position
In an ideal textbook world, one will always pick up a starting hand that leads to huge pots when he’s in late position. After all, there’s no better way to play those pocket rockets and kings than from a late position, with all the opponents oblivious to the trap one’s springing. That’s not how things happen in real life though. You may pick up those Kings in early position, and that’s when you have a problem on your hands. This situation leads to a complicated decision which is liable to get you in trouble. Picking up a hand which is great for large pots in a position which is pretty much only suited for small pots can be a problem indeed.
How should you play such a hand from such a position? The most important thing here is to have decent reads on your opponents. Without that you’re quite lost. Provided you do have an idea or two about how your opponents play certain hands though, here’s your basic course of action: being in early position, you have no control over your hand and you can’t really gather information on your opponents’ hands either. Your goal therefore is to assert control and to position yourself so that you can gather some much-needed information.
The simplest way to achieve those goals is to open with a raise. That’ll send your opponents one message: you have a monster of a hand that you’re willing to play for. It will also give you the opportunity to scare most of the other players away and to win it with a c-bet past he flop. Those who call you in such cases have weak hands most of the time that they hope will radically improve on the flop, thus cracking your rock-solid starting hand. These guys are basically hoping to make the decision easy for themselves pas the flop, by either hitting a monster of by missing it completely. In case they miss it, they’re more than willing to fold.
Now then, the reason you needed to assume control of the pot before the flop was a simple one: unless you happen to be hit by the flop for a monster, or you know that you’re left heads-up with a guy who is a notorious calling station, you want to keep the pot as small as possible, and that means you want to avoid piling bet on call all the way down to the river.
Limp-raising is another option to project power before the flop and thus to assume pot control. The hero simply limps along at first and then when another guy raises, he comes right back with a re-raise. The problem with the limp re-raise is that it sends out an extremely strong message, which will have pretty much everyone fold but the guy with the pocket rockets, who’s likely to shove all-in in response. Therefore, it’s safe to conclude that this approach is only effective against reckless and extremely loose opponents.
The limp-call is a non-conventional way to approach the matter. It is something that shouldn’t normally be done, but every now and then it comes in handy as a way of mixing things up. The limp-call will indeed work towards keeping the pot small, but it can get a player into a lot of trouble, therefore it is the least recommended option from those listed above.
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