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One approach to poker is to raise when you have a very good hand and fold when you have a very bad hand. But what happens when you follow that approach? Let’s say you have three aces rolled up on your first three cards in seven-card stud. That’s the best possible hand you could have at that point.

 

You put in a raise, and everybody folds. You have won a very small pot with a hand that potentially could have won a huge pot. However, there is one special application of the Fundamental Theorem of Poker, which we hinted at: As a pot gets larger and larger, you nearly always want to win it instantly. Naturally you would like your opponent to play incorrectly and throw away the best hand. But even when your hand is the best hand, you generally prefer your opponent to fold rather than call when the pot is large.

 

The reason is that when you bet in a limit game and the pot is large, your opponent’s hand, though second best, is rarely so much of an underdog that he is not getting good enough odds to chase you. Hence, his calling you with good odds is a profitable play for him in the long run. Since he is correct to take the odds, you do not gain when he calls.