Isolate Your Hand

Isolating - Isolation Bet

by Jesse Knight


Isolate Your Hand
Isolate – To thin the field by raising.

Your ultimate goal in a poker game is to win the most money possible, and you will need to operate strategically in order to do this. This is done primarily by choosing the best available option when it is your turn to act. Your correct action will differ depending upon where you stand in the hand. Sometimes you will want to get money into the pot very quickly, while at other times you will want to draw as cheaply as possible. Much of the time, the correct play will be to muck your hand.

You can use pot odds calculations to help you to determine what the correct play is for a given situation. Just as your opponents’ actions will affect your pot odds, your actions will likewise affect the pot odds of your opponents. This means that you have a degree of control over the pot odds of your opponents just as they can impact your pot odds. Your goal is to manipulate the situation to your best advantage. To do this strategically, you will need to have a good understanding of pot odds and be keenly aware of how your chosen action impacts your opponents.

Depending upon your holding, you will want your opponents to behave in a specific way, and you may be able to bring about that behavior depending upon the action you choose to take. If you flop a monster hand, you may want to slowplay or smooth call, so that you get more players putting money into the pot than you would have had you been aggressive from the outset. Alternatively, If you have a medium strong hand, your hand may perform significantly better against fewer players than against many. When this is the case, you will want to thin the field, or “isolate.”

You can thin the field by raising or reraising. This is called an isolation play, because you are attempting to knock out as many of your opponents as possible and get heads up. This is a very effective play, precisely because you are able to affect the pot odds of your opponents through raising. When you raise, you make it more expensive to call for everybody that follows you. For many of your opponents, the price to call will now be too expensive, making a call not worth it, and it is now correct for them to throw their hand away. You have essentially forced them to muck, thinning he field and isolating against your remaining opponent or opponents.

Many new players do not understand the isolation play and have no idea how to use it. Knowing when to run an isolation play is critical. If you isolate in the wrong spots, you can negatively impact your bottom line rather than improve it. Players who fail to run any isolation plays at all are not taking advantage of one of the most effective strategic tools available to them. This puts them at a huge disadvantage, and makes it very difficult for them to win in the long run.

One of the main reasons to run an isolation play is to prevent your opponents from drawing at you too cheaply. Players with weak hands or below average draws would often like to pull one on the cheap. To protect yourself, you must raise and isolate. Another benefit of isolating is that it can knock out the players behind you, improving you relative position, which can also add substantial value to your hand. A well timed raise can also get your opponent to check to you on the subsequent betting round, further improving your advantage.

Many players go overboard with this play, and begin raising too frequently. This is referred to as “speeding,” or “getting out of line.” Speeding will definitely get you into trouble, especially against good players. This is because when you speed you are often raising with the worst of it, and good players will punish you when you do this. They will three bet you, trap you, and slowplay monster hands. There can be a fine line between playing good aggressive poker and speeding, and the best players walk this tightrope very effectively.

Usage: Isolate To Get It Heads Up, Isolating Against Your Opponent

Previous Poker Term: In the Air
Next Poker Term: Jackpot


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