Poker Strategy – Dumping the 2nd Best Hand

Everyone knows that to win at poker, you must maximize your wins and minimize your losses. Maximizing your wins is fairly easy. Slowplaying and trapping help accentuate these wins, but the reality is that any fool can win a decent amount when he has a good hand. What generally separates a winning poker player from a losing one is how the two players lose their hands. The winning poker player knows how to dump his second best hand while the loser will call it down and lose at the showdown.

To me, the psychological difference is generally that the losing player must satisfy his need to know what the other guy had. The desire to be a policeman and make sure his opponent isn’t bluffing and to make sure he didn’t lose what he could have won causes him to call when he shouldn’t. The winning poker player has overcome this innate desire and forces him/herself to play well.

Now that I have brought your attention to what the second best hand is- how do you play them? It really depends on Limit vs. No-Limit poker.

Limit Poker

In Limit, calling with the second best hand won’t kill you quickly. You will notice your negative bank balance only in the long run because you will win sometimes in the short run. Generally, the best way to minimize your losses from second-best hands is preflop play. Don’t go in with hands without a decent kicker (i.e dump K8, A7) because those are often dominated hands. A dominated hand generally means when you’re up against an opponent and you have similar hands but one will almost always beat the other. Examples would be AA vs. AQ or AK vs. A9. The hand that is dominated has 3 outs or less (AQ must catch two queens without an ace hitting or a straight to win). Thus, correct preflop play can minimize second-best hands because you call less with dominated hands due to kicker.

Flop play is a bit different. Suppose board is AK9 and you have KQ. You definitely have 2nd best hand potential- but how do you tell? Well, generally the best way is to bet or raise at flop and see what happens. If you encounter a lot of resistance, you’re done for. Also, if there is a large multiway pot, go ahead and fold. Someone is bound to have the ace.

No-Limit Poker

At No-Limit, it’s a totally different ball game. At Limit, you won’t lose too much for one second best hand, but you can easily lose your whole stack at No-Limit. That’s why, at No-Limit, it’s best to play the nutlike hands more. In other words, pocket pairs go up in value because of their ability to hit a set and so do connecting cards because of their ability to hit straights. Ace-suited goes up in value too because of the nut flush but people are generally very aware of the flush potential and will shut you out at the flop when you hit a flush draw.

Since these hands go up in value- what goes down? AQ, AJ, KQ, KJ, etc. These hands are the ones that can get raped at No-Limit poker. These hands will win small pots with top pair, but will lose large ones when someone else hits a set or a straight.

The key to No-Limit poker is not dumping these second best hands preflop necessarily. It’s sniffing out what other people have on the flop. Do not simply call bets with the second best hand, you must raise to see where you are. When someone bets at you, they are threatening your whole stack (if the bet is a signicant one). You must reciprocate by threatening theirs. If the board is KT7 and you have KQ, you could be in a lot of trouble. Someone betting at you could have JT or TT. It’s important to figure out their relative strength by raising them at the flop.

Now, many will respond “well couldn’t they just bluff reraise me.” Of course they could, but that will cost them a lot when you finally get the nut hand. Simply call the reraise and then zap them out of the rest of their stack on the turn/river.

This was grabbed from here.