“The Fox knows many things, but the Hedgehog knows one big thing.” -Archilochus Poker Foxes know many ways to win a pot. Poker Hedgehogs know one big thing. Poker Hedgehog’s one big thing is “Make a hand and stack someone.” Most people playing at the table have this plan. Some of them are going to have a good day and will indeed stack someone. This is like the Hedgehog that curls up into a ball and shows the world its spiky side. It is a good trick; it works some days. It is inflexible but a decent defense. In a world filled with other Hedgehogs, they will trade money back and forth and slowly lose to the rake and the Foxes. Poker Foxes have a different view of the world. Given the same situation, they see many more ways of fighting for the pot. Their plans are flexible, and they are numerous. Let us look at two examples, one quick and one more extended. Our poker animals are on the Button, having called an early position pre-flop raise with
The flop brings:
T♠ 7♣ 4♠
The pre-flop raiser bets 2/3 pot. The Hedgehog thinks: “I missed; he probably has an overpair. I fold.” Maybe he thinks: “I will take a turn. If I miss, I will fold if he bets again.” The Hedgehog will end up losing in this situation over time. Some days he will win, but mostly he will lose. He can go home and console himself that he did not make any mistakes— he just never made a hand.
On the other hand, if the Fox was in this same position, he thinks many of the following:
• This is a decent board to continuation bet on. I will bluff raise if Villain has been continuation betting too often.
• If this is a rote continuation bet, Villain will often check to me on the turn when a non-threatening low card comes on the turn. I can bluff if checked to.
• Many of the overcards on the turn will give me top pair with a solid kicker.
• Other overcards give me inside straight draws that I can semi-bluff if checked to, possibly semi-bluff raising when bet at if I think I sense a bet-sizing tell of weakness on the turn.
• Any club gives me backdoor nut flush draw.
• I can bluff if Spades come in.
The Fox has many more plans on how to win this hand. He can call profitably where the Hedgehog can not. Foxes are always scheming, but maybe not always betting. Here is a “quiet” hand. It seems the Fox is doing nothing but checking down. In reality, the Fox is zigging and zagging mentally until the right moment when he wins the hand at the last possible opportunity, after the first several plans did not work. Each plan is profitable to the Fox, this is just the first one he can actually use.
An extended hand looks like this. The Fox is in the big blind with
a solid TAG opens from early middle position.
- Initial plan: Fold
This Villain will use his position and likely has better cards that will beat me. I need to play suited connectors, but this player is too hard to beat out of position. I do not have to play every suited connector I get. I will exploit him by folding.
There are four callers including the small blind, so I change my plan.
- Revised plan: Call
Now there is a really big pot brewing; I can close the action. While I do not expect the TAG to pay me off, the other players in this hand just might. The most dangerous Villain in this hand has three players after him. He will have to play very straightforward. I will likely need to make a hand, but the pot odds are compelling here.
The flop comes
7♣ 4♦ 4♥
It is checked to the Fox. He has the aggressor and three others left to act. Flop plan: Check-raise With a TAG in the lead here, if he bets, the most likely value hand is an overpair. He could be continuation betting, but that is unlikely. My range is much wider calling multi-way from the Big Blind. I could represent open trips with the Four by check-raising small on the flop then barrelling the turn and river. It will be difficult for his simple overpair to call to the river in the face of this bluff.
If he bets and everyone folds to him, I am going to three barrel him.
I have a bluff catcher. If I bet, there are plenty of medium pocket pairs out there, 88+, that will call me. I do not want to build a pot out of position with such a weak hand. It is a decent bluff catcher. The flop is checked around.
- Revised flop plan: Check, since I did not get a chance to check-raise.
The turn completes the rainbow with
It is checked to Fox.
- Turn plan: Stick with the bluff catching.
Someone might take a stab at this, but it is checked around.
The river brings
It is checked to Fox.
- River plan: Stick with bluff catching.
We might have the best hand. I check to terrible player on the Button. He bets 1/5 pot. This was the weak stab Fox was hoping for. These are great odds to call and likely have the best hand.
The Small Blind calls.
- Revised River plan: Check-raise bluff
Fox is likely behind now. Hands such as any Ten, 77-99, and most Sixes outkick him. The Small Blind likely has something. However, if the Small Blind had a hand he was really proud of, such as a Four, he would have at least min-raised. Neither of these guys have a strong hand, but Small Blind is ahead. The Fox fires in a pot sized reraise.
Result: Fox wins the hand. Be a poker Fox.