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TEXAS HOLD’EM ATO Z:

"L" is for Lay Down

by Bill Burton

Bill Burton is the author of 1000 Best Casino Gambling Secrets available at , and Get the Edge at Low Limit Texas Hold'em available at www.bjinsider.com. He is an instructor for Golden Touch Craps: www.thecrapsclub.com.

 

The biggest mistake that losing poker players make is playing too many hands. It takes discipline to throw away hand after hand while waiting for the right starting cards. However, this is only one part of playing winning poker.

After waiting patiently for a decent starting hand, the player may find that the hand does not improve and it is very likely that their opponent has them beaten. When this happens, the player also needs to have the discipline to be able to fold that hand and get away from it.

Lay down

By definition, a lay down in poker is when a player holding a strong hand makes a smart fold when faced with a bet from an opponent, thus saving his money and chips by folding a hand that would have probably lost to a better hand.

Making the correct lay downs in the right situations is what separates the winners from the losers. Getting married to a hand can spell disaster for a player, especially in a tournament. Winning players have the discipline to get away from a hand no matter how good it looks to start.

Tournaments vs. Ring Games

Because hand requirements are stricter in tournaments than in cash games, you must be able to make proper lay downs when you believe you’re beaten. Winners realize that it is critical in tournaments to get away from hands that they may very well continue playing in ring games. This requires discipline. When you are in a tournament, your life is on the line with every hand you play.

However, even in a ring game, it is important to your financial health to be able to lay down a hand when you think you are beaten. A winning limit player will average two or three bets per hour in profit. If you call the turn and the river instead of laying down your hand, you easily lose two big bets.

Common Lay Down Situations

There are several instances when a player should lay down a hand but time after time, I have seen players get busted because they refuse to lay down a hand.

You have pocket Jacks, Queens or Kings. You raise and are called. An ace comes on the flop and you know that it is likely one of your opponents is holding another ace.

You have top pair but there are three suited cards on the board. It is more than likely that your opponent has a flush.

I still remember a hand that knocked me out of a tournament on the bubble (one spot away from the money) because I did not lay down a hand. I held Ace -10 spades and the flop was Queen of spades, Queen of hearts and 9 of spades. I made the nut flush on the turn with the 8 of spades and I was feeling quite confident. The river was the 9 of hearts and my opponent moved all in. I called and he turned over a King and Queen for a full house. I did not lay down my flush even though the board was double paired. It was a costly mistake but a valuable lesson that has stuck with me for many years.

Follow Your Gut

Making a big lay down is a difficult decision. It can be upsetting when you lay down a hand and the other player shows you a bluff, but this is part of the game of poker. In many instances, you will make the right call if you take a minute to analyze the action, as well as your opponent, by doing the following:

  • Make sure you accurately read the board to determine if your opponent could logically be holding a hand that made a connection with the board cards. What type of hands does he play?
  • Look at the betting patterns of your opponent; does it fit in with how he would act if he were holding the hand that might beat you.
  • Does this player have a tendency to bluff or is he a fairly tight player?

Survive to Fight Another Day

You won’t get it right every time but a good player will be correct more often than he is wrong. It is better to err on the side of caution. If you lay down a hand and you are wrong, you have lost a single pot. If you don’t lay down a hand and you are wrong, you could be knocked out of a tournament, or lose your hourly profits in a ring game. Learn to lay it down. That is precisely what winning players do.

Until next time, remember:

Luck comes and goes.....Knowledge Stays Forever.

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