When you have the best possible hand you can have in a given situation, your goal is to extract as much money as possible from your opponents. This is an area where you will often hear tips about how to do this, with greatly contradictory advice. Some will tell you to play it slow to keep your “paying customers”, others will tell you to play it strong because your opponents will expect you to play it slow.
Our advice is to ignore these generalizations, they will make you predictable and will not come close to maximizing your potential winnings. When you have the nuts, you are no longer playing your hand, you are playing your opponents’ hands. Because of this, there is no general strategy that will work when you have the nuts.
So where does this leave you?
Right where you want to be. You have the best hand and you KNOW it. Use your reading skills to your advantage. Replay the hand in your mind and put your opponent on a range of likely hands. If you can do that, then you have the knowledge to maximize your winnings.
Here are three possible examples:
- You think your opponent is on a draw – Make them pay for their card. Do not attempt to slow play or check-raise. Use your knowledge of odds to charge your opponent a price to continue.
- You think your opponent has a very strong hand, e.g. Second Nuts – Try to get all your chips in as soon as possible. It will be very hard for them to fold their strong hand. This becomes especially true if you believe that your opponent likely has you on a different hand and there are many “scare cards” that could run your opponent off if you wait until later streets.
- You think your opponent has nothing, or a weak hand – You probably aren’t going to get anything out of them unless they improve. If you know your opponent is aggressive and may take a shot at the pot, let him or her play into you. If not, your best chance to get any chips may be to let them try to improve.
What if you can’t get any sort of read on what hand your opponent has? Then ask yourself if you know anything else about your opponent. If you’re playing at a low stakes table, most of your opponents are not very strong players. Bad players come in all shapes and sizes, but almost all of them have one thing in common – they call too much. Against that sort of opponent, betting big is the way to go.
So, lacking any other information, bet your hand strongly and hope for a call or (better yet) a raise.