Today I will be starting a series of articles developing frameworks for making good decisions at the poker table. These frameworks should help you in developing your decision-making process at the poker table. Think of these frameworks as a checklist of things you should be considering when making a decision. Once ingrained into your game, this should help prevent impulse plays that your will regret. This also is a look into all the factors I am considering when making a poker decision. Today we will be looking at preflop decisions when facing an open raise from an opponent. The outcomes are to either fold, call or 3-bet the opponent.
A. Is my hand ever a play here?
- The process may end here if you simply have 72o in any position.
- Possibly – You could have T9s in MP facing an UTG open. This is a Close spot. Move to step 2
- Yes – You have KQs on the button versus the CO. This is a no brainer VPIP (voluntarily put $ in the pot). Now you need to decide to 3bet or call.
B. IF close, look at the factors
- Stack depths – How deep are we, does my hand have a preference being shallow stacked or deep stacked. For example, KJo prefers to have shallow stacks while A2s prefers to have deep stacks.
- Who is the villain – What % of hands should he put opening from the position. Is this player likely opening too tight or loose? If he is too tight, fold. If he is too loose, probably can play the hand.
- Who is left to act – How likely are we to be squeezed by a remaining player? Are players more likely to just call or are there aggressive squeezers? If squeezers, you should fold close hands. If not, you can probably call.
- What would I do with 1 worse pip or better pip – In the above example we had T9s facing an utg open. What would we do with T8s or JTs. This can often help us decide how close the decision really is. If the pip above is still close, JTs, then we should probably fold this hand.
C. Is our hand ever a 3-bet and any frequency?
- If we have gotten to this step, we have determined our hand must be played. If you have 33 on the button versus a MP raise, its safe to assume we would never 3b at any frequency and can now come to conclusion that CALL is the best option. For many hands though, we will 3-bet sometimes and call sometimes
- Who is the opener? Is he likely to be tighter or looser than equilibrium from the position. – simply is the player raising too tight or loose from the given position
- Who is left to act –
- Who is on the button?
- Who is on the BB?
- Do you want either of those 2 players in the pot?
D. IF 3 betting for value –
- Will Villain CALL with hands we dominate – For example if we have AQo, will the villain call with worse aces preflop or worse queens.
- How wide does villain call 3-bets, if he over calls (most do) then we can 3-bet wider for value
- Does villain 4-bet often? If not, again we can 3-bet wider for value
- How deep are we, is villain like to shove if we 3-bet and we would be put in a difficult decision?
- What is our playability on flops? Do we connect with a lot of flops or is our hand hot / cold
E. If 3-betting as a bluff
- Will villain fold dominated hands to us? I.E. If we 3bet JTs, does the villain raise ATo, KTo, QTo preflop and will he fold those hands preflop. This is often good for us and a good reason to 3bet.
- Does the villain play fit or fold postflop – Does he fold to C-Bets a lot unless he hits a pair? Does he fight hard for pots postflop? The more passve, the more you can 3-bet bluff as they will overfold later on.
F. Sizing –
- Are we in position or out of position
- Will this player over fold or over call to smaller or larger sizings?
This framework is meant to be a list of internal questions to ask yourself while making a decision. This may seem daunting at first if you have never formally had a decision making process in poker. However, you likely have some type of model like this without even knowing it. I recommend defining that model and consistently revisiting your model to improve it as your skill level increases. As you become more comfortable with your model, it will perform automatically without you thinking. It will happen in a matter of seconds and without your knowledge. This will only happen once you have it learned to the level of Unconscious Competence, meaning you can perform the task without thinking about it. While still learning your model though it will require lots of conscious thinking to perform it.
Keep practicing and refining your framework to help your decision making process. The better you get at it, the better you will perform under pressure
Best of luck at the tables