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Playing Weak Hands
One thing to keep in mind is that a lot of players get out of line on third street. Suppose someone starts with 10s 10h 8d an ace raises, a king calls, and now he calls! Well, he should have folded.
Assuming that he incorrectly called, suppose that on fourth street, the ace catches a jack, the king catches a ten, and he catches a seven. It is again wrong to call. He has caught only enough to "suck him in." His hand has not improved enough to make it profitable to continue playing in this spot. But he does notice that his error on third street has caused him to make an additional compounding error on fourth street that can become very expensive once the hand is over.
The thing to keep in mind is that only the very best players can get away with getting slightly out of line on third street for a full bet. Most players compound the error later on.
On the other hand, if the third street bet is only the bring-in and it is unlikely that you will be raised, the situation becomes different. In fact, most good players probably play a little too tight in this spot. There are many hands that you can play if it's cheap, especially if your hand is live and has the potential to make something big.
If you do play a weak hand for the bring-in and are raised, you usually should now fold and save the rest of the bet. There are two reasons for this. First, it is costing you more money, and second, the fact that the pot has been raised has diminished the value of your hand.
So, if you are in a game where people limp in a lot (for the bring-in), you often should limp in behind them, especially if the game is weak. What you are usually hoping is to catch a perfect card on fourth street and thus you must be prepared to fold if you don't catch what you want. (Remember, you need to avoid making any compounding errors.)
Here's an example. If you are holding Kh Jc 9d and the queens and tens are live, you should call the bring-in. Also consider the kings, jacks, and nines.
If you should catch a king or jack, that's great. If however, you catch a queen or ten on fourth street (giving you a gut shot) your decision is not automatic. How long you stay with the hand will depend on whether you have seen any of your other straight cards, as well as the other kings, jacks, and nines; how much money is in the pot; what you think you must beat; and how you think the hand will be played.
By the way, how the hand will be played is a hidden factor and is extremely important. It gives you an idea of how much you can win if you make your hand and what it will cost you if you don't. This is a concept that usually is considered only by very advanced players.
Calling for the bring-in also allows you to punish people who don't raise enough. For example, if three or four people are in and you have a hand like Ah Kh 8s or As Kd 4s you should call if your cards are live.
This is an especially good play against a player who will pay you off all the way if you make your hand. In addition, if you are against players who call the bring-in a lot and then often fold, be prepared to raise them, even with marginal hands.
As already mentioned, you must take into account whether your hand has the potential to improve enough that it would be a mistake for your opponent to pay off all the way. Here's an example. Suppose you start with: 5d 9s 5h If you catch a nine, your opponent probably is correct to call all the way with just one pair because you are holding a hand that can be easily beaten. Thus, this hand is barely worth a call, even for a bring-in against easy opposition. But a hand like a three straight with a gap is worth it against bad players.
Finally, remember that these ideas apply mainly to calling only the bring-in. If it is a full bet, it wouldn't hurt to just never call with weak hands. (The exception is when you were forced in with the low card, which is discussed elsewhere.)