Having a Plan for a Poker Hand

Planning out a hand in poker
Anyone who has seen any of my videos at DragTheBar knows that I continually preach the importance of having a plan for the hand. I learned this concept primarily by watching the videos of world class players like Leatherass9

So what does having a plan for the hand actually mean?

It means that you formulate a course of action, usually on the flop, for the entire hand. And you absolutely stick to that plan, barring ridiculous turn and river cards, that completely change the complexion of the board. The two most important things to consider before determining your plan of action are the villain's stack size and player type.

Here is a hand that I played today which illustrates this point.


  • BTN is a 33/27/5 loose aggressive

My Plan

  • Check/call all 3 streets, again barring a ridiculous run out of turn and river cards.

If I cbet, this LAG villain is likely to either raise me (which puts me in a difficult spot out of position) or fold and I get nothing further from him. However, if I check he is very likely to stab at the pot with any two cards. And he will probably keep up the charade on future streets because that is what loose aggressive players do. I know this and will have to call on some ugly turn and river cards.

Poker Stars, $0.01/$0.02 NL Hold'em Cash Game, 5 Players

BB: $1.80
UTG: $2.21
Hero (CO): $5
BTN: $2.35
SB: $0.98

Pre-Flop: J A dealt to Hero (CO)

UTG folds, Hero raises to $0.06, BTN calls $0.06, 2 folds

Flop: ($0.15) J 4 5 (2 Players)

Hero checks, BTN bets $0.10, Hero calls $0.10

Turn: ($0.35) T (2 Players)

Hero checks, BTN checks

River: ($0.35) 5 (2 Players)

Hero bets $0.16, BTN calls $0.16

$0.67 Pot ($0.03 Rake)

Hero showed J A and WON $0.64 (+$0.32 NET)

BTN mucked Q T and LOST (-$0.32 NET)

The hand didn't play out completely according to plan and I should have bet a bit more on the river. But I think I still managed to get the maximum out of him while keeping the pot at a manageable size out of position.

How do you go about planning out a hand? If you enjoyed this article please "Like" or "Tweet" it below!

poker hand


  1. actually i would rather look at his bet vs missed cb IP then his aggresion,c/c seems pretty weak to me mainly on flop, i like b/f much more, he would raise only with better and draws which we are slightly better or way behind and there is no reason to call OOP his raise but u need to protect your equity, this guy is very looose, too much for FR so he is more like fish then LAG reg even he has very small gap between vpip and pfr, so my plan would be bet flop and bet blank turns, bet smallish on river higher then J or when flush complete and c/c all blanks to give him chance bluff missed draws

  2. and your bet on river was perfect, u want to make him call all underpairs and even A high, so why bet close to pot and increase fold equity when you crush him with TPTK as he checked turn a pretty much wanted go to showdown or gived up with bluffing

  3. That is a good idea to look at his bet vs missed cbet IP stats. Not something I use very much. I only had 100 hands on him though. Do you think it would be useful with a sample size that small?

  4. it depends how much samples do you have, sometime he had opportunity to raise cb 5x and sometime 0x, etc but if he raise cbet 80% (5) then yes i would use it :)

    also if u bet and he raise, u can look at his raise cbet stat, whatever 100 hands is very small and iam just folding to villain i have very small history

  5. hey nathan what's up, you probably know me from the tables, my screename is "alefito6804" my pic is a happy yellow face, i play 250bb deep. i used to be like a 8BB/100 winner at the stake (nl2) but lately it's been pretty sick i looks like i cant win anymore i dont know, but my problem is that when i start losing and i keep losing/breakeven for some time i start to think it might not bejust variance but playing bad, in other words im losing confidence on my game. I know even playing bad nl2 isnt hard to beat, but maybe you've noticed something i keed doing wrong i dunno, i played like 4k hands with u, im a little tighter than you, 11/9 aggf 2.2.

  6. my plan isnt to stay at nl2 forever though, i actually should've moved up long time ago as my BR is nearly $800. I just hate variance, i'll have to work on my mindset because my plan is actually to get a 2k BR and then start playing NL50 CAP SH, archive SN clear the 4k bonus and in 2012 ill be playing NL100 CAP SH to archive SNE, so i will definitely have to learn to deal with variance. I might move up to nl5-NL10 when i hit 1k BR play there until 2k and then move up to nl50 CAP dunno :)

  7. Hi "JustGrind" haha. Thats the name of my blog!

    To be honest, I don't remember your name on Stars. But there are so many people that play the microstakes, its hard. Also, I have avatars turned off :p

    Variance is difficult for everyone. I'm pretty bad at dealing with it myself. And even though I don't play CAP or short games, I'm sure the variance is crazy in those.

    All you can do is focus on the long term. 11/9 is totally fine for NL2 and will easily beat it. Just don't tilt really hard when the NL2 donks are hitting again and again. Everybody tilts a little bit, but some people destroy their winrate during bad times by going crazy.

    Playing less tables might also be a good idea if you are a mass tabler. I don't 24 table anymore. I try to keep it to 18 at the most and my winrate has gone up considerably. gl.

  8. Hey Nathan, was watching your crushing the micro's II part 6 vid, and in the video on table 1 there's a fish there playing and you were talking about a particular topic and the fish was thinking...thinking the limped utg and instantly u stopped talking and said your gonna mark this guy as a fish which was funny listening to, but what cracked me up was when i seen the name fish in blue then mega fish lol funny stuff!

  9. Haha, ya it keeps things simple :p