Poker: Knowing They Have a Big Hand

One of the best situations you can be in at a Texas holdem table is holding the nuts while your opponent, or opponents, are sitting on a big hand. This spot would seem to be cut and dry, get your chips in there and win as much as you can. But this situation is often played wrongly because many fail to recognize that their opponent has a big hand, and they often bet too little in fear of scaring them off.

You want to maximize what you can win in a situation like this. We’re so used to slow-playing a hand with the nuts we often give away that we’re holding it, and end up winning only a portion of what we could have been paid. It all comes down to putting a read on your opponent and knowing if that particular player will give you action with the second-best hand. If their hand isn’t strong enough, a big bet will not get paid off.

Let’s say you decided to trap a pre-flop raiser while holding A-A. The player is the tight type so you expect him to have a strong ace or a pocket pair. Since you have two aces it’s more likely that they’re holding a smaller pocket pair. A flop of A-10-6 hits the board and he check-raises your bet. What do you do?

You know you have him beat, but it’s likely that he thinks he has the lead. He could have the case ace with a good kicker, a hand most internet players will risk lots of chips with, or he has a pocket pair of tens or sixes and has flopped middle or bottom set. Either way you know that he’ll call a big bet. Get your chips in the middle while he thinks he’s ahead, and watch your stack grow.