One of the hardest things to do in poker is give-up and admit defeat because no matter how great a player you are, you can’t win ’em all. So, when do you wave the white flag?
If you called someone’s raise …
- Most players don’t have the courage to bluff the flop, turn, and river. In fact, many will give-up after the flop and shut down on the turn. You need a stronger hand to call a turn bet than a flop bet. Why? The likelihood your opponent is bluffing greatly decreases when they bet again.
- It’s OK to fold bottom pair and underpairs on the flop. Let’s say the flop is A♣ J♣ 3♥. Should you continue with pocket eights or a pair of threes? Not really. You can fold a single pair on the flop. Just because you hit a pair doesn’t mean you have to continue calling bets.
- Don’t float. If you called someone’s raise with high cards such as A♠ J♠ and the flop is all low cards like 8♥ 3♥ 2♠, it’s best to fold to their c-bet. “Floating” — calling a flop bet with no pair and just overcards — is strongly ill-advised. The odds of you hitting an overcard by the river are only 29%, and your outs may not even be clean (i.e. your opponent has QQ, A8, or a flush draw in this example…)
There’s nothing “weak” about folding. It actually takes tremendous discipline and is often the sign of a great player.
If you raised preflop …
- Gauge your opponent’s experience level. Beginners hate folding, which makes them much more difficult to bluff. The more experienced a player is, the more likely they are to fold to multiple bets. Newer players also tend to be more curious, and thus, more likely to call “just to see what you have.” Remember: newbies are nosy.
- Notice your opponent’s defaults. Whether or not you should fire multiple barrels (fire multiple bets), largely depends on your opponent’s tendencies. Do they veer toward folding or calling? What might work with one opponent might not work with another, regardless of what the cards are. Pay attention to peoples’ habits.
- Read the room. One player once told me he never tries to bluff anyone after 3AM. This may sound a bit silly, but there’s real wisdom here. Even normally solid players will let their emotions get the best of them and make loose calls when they’re chasing losses, drinking booze, or playing after hours.
There’s no obvious hard-and-fast rule for when you should keep trying to win the hand and when you should yield and let it go. That’s where skill and experience really come into play at the table.