Big Hand, Small Hand and Pot Control

When you are playing poker you have one of the most helpful instruments to win the other player’s chips. That is your stack.

The rule which works here looks like this: When you flop a big hand, you want to make a big pot. In a contrary, the weaker hand you have, the smaller pot you want.

One of the common mistakes people make is creating large pots with one-pair hands, just in order to eventually fold when the pot begins to get big.

Big Hand

Having flopped a big hand, a player always thinks of stealing his opponent’s stack.

First of all, let’s define what we mean when we are talking about “Big hand”. In this article we refer to a hand that you’re willing to play for stacks against a certain opponent.

It is rather difficult to give a unified definition of “Big hand”, because everything depends on the situation at the table. Thus, a big pot with one pair will be enough to play against one loose player. But you can’t use it if you play against one tighter opponent. You should always follow the game and know your opponents so that you were able to identify if your hand is big enough to play against a certain player in a certain moment.

You cannot win the other person’s chips without putting yours on the line. However, it is up to you to decide when you risk your stack.

The only condition for putting your stack on the line is to have a big hand. You should rarely find yourself in a big pot having to fold. You must control the pot size all the time. If you appear to have got a big pot without having a big hand, you may be in trouble.

Prior to building pots with any kinds of hands and then folding when the action gets too big, you should plan your hands. Try to know from the start how much action you can take with your hand. If a hand you have does not match a big pot, you are willing to build, so it is better to take a different line.

Small Hand

A definition of a small hand comes out of one opposite to a big hand. We may say that “Small Hand” is a hand you don’t want to play a big pot with.

As a rule, one pair type hands are not good to play for stacks with. If you are called you’re normally behind. If you find yourself with a hand like top pair, it is necessary to monitor the pot.

Keep in mind you are the chief of the hands you play. You create big pots when you have big hands. When you have smaller hands, and you don’t want to be put to a tough decision you should exercise control of the pot size.

Such regular controlling of the pots you’re in helps you to prevent your stack winning by your opponents. There is the reason why many players can successfully use a loose-aggressive strategy. When the pots are small they may seem to be playing crazy. But if the pot they play is big, be sure they have a big hand.

In case when you have a hand which is not good enough to play for stacks, you should use pot control. As an example, such a hand could be second pair, top pair, or even an overpair. Just the same like in situation with a big hand you must take into account a type of a player you are playing against, his behaviour and the table conditions.

Pot Control Usage

Use pot control only when the board is dry. It would be unwise to not protect your hand. So if your hand is exposed to draws you must continue aggressive play. Do not allow draws to get in cheap!

There is no need to exercise pot control all the time. Like many other poker tactics it depends on situation. If you are pretty sure your opponent is going to call three streets with hands you beat, then by all means value bet with no mercy.

It is clear now that you should use pot control when your hand isn’t strong enough against a present opponent to play for a big pot. So save your big pots for big hands and when your hand isn’t big, play in the way you could protect your chips.