Preflop: Hero is BB with 8, 7. SB posts a blind of $0.25. 2 folds, CO calls $0.50, Button calls $0.50, SB (poster) completes, Hero checks.
Flop: ($2) 8, 7, Q (4 players) SB checks, Hero bets $1.5, CO raises to $77.99 (all-in), two folds, Hero...?
What should Hero do in this situation? He's got bottom two pair in an unraised pot, facing a massive raise. Hero's choice is obvious: he should...
There is a ton of information available to us at the poker tables. In live play, there are physical reads. In online play, there are statistical trends and the software to help us collect and analyze it. If you've got a HUD, you'll have a couple dozen pieces of data at your fingertips, ready to use. But in order to use it, you've got to WAIT! Perhaps 0.5% of the hands you play will be playing for stacks; if you make good decisions in those tiny fraction of hands, you'll come out WAY ahead in the long run in terms of PTBB/100 winrates. Think of it: if just one time out of a thousand hands you turn a loss of a stack into a fold for -10BBs, or a fold into a stacking, you'll be ahead, say 80 BBs on average, which means your long-term winrate will be 4 PTBB/100 higher. That's an absolutely mind-bogglingly massive increase in your winrate, all from making one extra wise decision every 12 table hours.
So...WAIT! You've got time -- use it. Too often, we fly on autopilot. All-in, time to call! All-in, time to fold! Move, move, move, decide and run onward, fire and forget, go go go! Instead, when you're faced with a decision for all of your chips, WAIT. Use your time.
Instaclick -- but on the HUD data. Reread your notes on the villain. Check out his stats. Find out how often he wins when he check-raises the turn, or how frequently he wins at showdown, or how aggressive he is on the river, or how frequently he raises preflop, or what have you. Take a look at ALL the information you have on this particular player, and electronically look him in the eye.
Then, think about your hand: do you have the nuts? Do you have a bluff-catcher? Do you have a solid draw?
Think about the math: what are the odds that you'll hit on the river, and what are the odds that the pot is offering you? Is this a +EV move?
Think about your table image: have you been playing loose? Could your opponent be putting you on a bluff? Have you been playing weak-tight, so that your opponent thinks he can muscle you off your hand? Is your hand noticeably stronger than your table image would imply? Could your opponent reasonably believe that you'd fold to this bet?
Think about this hand: given the betting history so far, what is your opponent's most likely holding. (NOTE: not "what holding do you really, really, really hope villain has?" but "what does he LIKELY have?") COULD he be on a draw? WOULD he play the nuts that way? Given the way the hand unwound, is this really likely to be a bluff? Am I truly ahead?
Think about your emotional state: why do I want to call this push? Is it because I truly feel I'm ahead? Is it because I'm way behind and need big pots to get back to even? Is it because I hate this a-hole and want to punish him for not folding? Is it because I'm bored, and need something exciting to happen? Is it because I've "got a feeling"? Is it because the "cards are running hot and I'm bound to hit"? Make sure that you're calling for intellectually sound and +EV reasons, not emotional ones. Alternatively, ask yourself WHY you're folding this hand. Is it because you're REALLY beaten? Is it because you're a little bit ahead and want to "book a win"? Is it because you're uncomfortable with big bets, and you'd rather play it safe? Is it because you've been getting beaten up all day, and you're convinced he's got some incredibly unlikely monster? Is it because this particular opponent wouldn't make this particular set of plays without a truly powerful hand? Make sure you're folding for logical and EV-oriented reasons, too.
Most of the time, we can instaclick our way through poker. Most decisions are routine, even boring. We get used to making fast decisions and moving on without a second thought. However, every couple hundred hands, a BIG decision comes along that is also a difficult decision. When that happens, do the most +EV thing you can possibly do: