Think about your opponent's hands before you commit your stack!
I've recently been assisting and advising strategy in Hold'em cash games on the internet. Here's a scenario that my friend encountered whilst I was making us both a cup of tea in a 5 minute break. He told me that he'd pressed sit out but I guess he was feeling confident.
My friend shouts to me.... I've just played a hand and I think you're going to tell me off but have a look at the hand history.
Hand History reads:-
Player 1 (button)
Player 2 (Sb).50
Player 3 (bb) $1
Everybody folded around to my friend who is the button with K 10 and flat calls the blind. Now my surprise is why Player 2 never raised with his pair, not only to protect his hand but also to build the pot a little too.
Flop is which is an action flop. My friend has hit top pair, player two hits a set of 8's, and player 3 hits king flush draw. This is where he needed to step back and actually think about what his opponents could have rather than what his cards are. It's when the timer is actually needed.
Player 2 bets $4.50, Player 3 calls $4.50, my friend who is player 1 re-raises to $15 to see where he stands.
Now in my opinion in an unraised pot it's an extremely bad move. Just thinking about what hands are out there that's beating top pair is a minefield. Set of 7's, Set of 8's, Set of 10's, JJ, QQ, KK, AA, J9, A10, 10 7, 10 8, 7 8, 6 9. So that is 13 hands that are currently beating you, and that is without the huge drawing hands , straight flush draws, nut flush draws, open ended straight draws and looking at approximately 35 hands that can beat you on the turn.
Player 2 raises to $25.50, Player 3 re-raises to $60.60 and needless to say my friend in Player 1 folds his top pair. Player 2 calls the $60.60 bet. The turn card was and river was a very blank looking and Player 2 missed his full house and Player 3's King high flush won the pot.
I think the lesson to be learned is to think about not your hand but what the possible scenarios you are facing.
Poker is a game where you are constantly learning but I hope that this is a lesson of how to hold onto your stack.