Schooling in Poker

Written by on August 5, 2017

Have you ever been in a Limit Holdem tournament or cash game where you pick up your hole cards to see a great hand that you should be able to win with. Excited to get it ,you raise to get all the limpers out and yet to your dismay they all call. By the time you have finished pushing them off a pot that they should have folded in the first place, out comes the river killing not only your hand but rewarding a player who made a bad decision. This always leaves a player asking what just happened how could they call with that?.

Undoubtedly we have all had this happen to us at one point. Schooling is where a group of very weak players almost join forces when calling a raise and make what should be a very bad call turn into a call with great odds. We are not saying that they make this decision collectively as a whole. No it’s just a force of nature that occurs with the right cards at the right time. Now not all of them make great calls pre flop and we will explain how this is done and why it gives great odds to the weak and bad odds for you.

You are in a 6 handed game and all 4 players call your raise of $10 making the total pot stand at $100. You flop Q95. While we know that you are holding AQ which is a favorite to win on this flop in most cases, but lets take a quick run down on how these opponents are getting their odds when they play collectively and what there probability is at winning.

Player1 KJ (2 outs for straight )
Player2 J8 (3 outs for the straight)
Player3 K10 (2 outs for the straight )
Player4 78 (3 outs for the straight)

Against these hands you are still a 39% favorite to win pre flop, even if your opponents were suited you are still running ahead. Once the flop has hit you are still ahead by 51% against those hands. You bet $10 and each player calls. The turn shows another Q, you bet $20 each player calls. Now with the cards we know they have, each of them at most only has 3 outs.

Card outs and ratio on the turn

Player1 38/2 19:1
Player2 38/3 13:1
Player3 38/2 19:1
Player4 38/3 13:1

So Player1 on the turn puts in $20 making the pot $140. He is getting 7:1 odds against his 20:1 draw which of course we all know is not a simply a bad call call. However if each player calls your $20 bet by the time it reaches player 4 the pot will have already grown to $180 meaning that Player4 will be getting 10:1 pot odds making his call slightly better than player 1 or 2. This is how schooling works when the numbers make it an almost feasible call.

This is where players tend to find they have more bad beats than any where else is on a table that is schooling. Some can complain while a more advanced player will take advantage of this. Ultimately you will be investing to big pots but given the right circumstances it can still be a controlled variable.

And therein lies the lesson. You can be heads up against a player and be a huge favorite to win. Add a second or third player into the hand and your winning margin decreases significantly, because now you are not only just playing one player but you are playing all the players. Add some more players into the pot and it becomes a coin flip. This still means you should bet, but it puts into perspective why although you did have a good hand yours went sour and feel as though you lost something you think you deserved.

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