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First Position Play in Terms of the Strength of Your Hand

We'll wrap up play in first position by summarizing it according to the strength of your hand.

If your hand is a cinch or a near cinch, you have two options. One is to bet, and one is to check-raise. You would decide which to do according to the check-raise formula presented earlier. However, if you are sure you have the best hand but suspect your opponent will raise if you bet, you should bet out in an attempt to win three bets when your opponent raises and you reraise.

If your hand figures to be a favorite when called but is not good enough to check-raise, you have two options - to bet or to check and then call. Basically you bet if your opponent will call with more hands than he'll bet with and you check and call if he'll bet with more hands than he'll call with.

If your hand is an underdog when called, you have three options. One is to bet, a second is to check and call, and the third is to check and fold. (A bluff check-raise is a remote possibility against very tough players who are capable of very tough folds.) You should check and call if your opponent will bet more hands than he will call with, including some hands you can beat. You should also check and call when your opponent will check many hands that will beat you but might come out bluffing with some hands you can beat. And you should come out betting if you have a calling hand but your opponent will call with more hands than he will bet.

Finally, if you have virtually no chance of winning if you check and your opponent bets and you are an underdog if you bet and he calls, then the proper play is to check and fold if he bets.

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