A look at Texas Hold’em’s “Baluga Theorem”
By Bob Garcia
The theorem explores when it’s time to fold, even with a supposed superior hand
Although Andrew “BalugaWhale” Seidman is a high-level player and quite well known in 2 + 2 forums, his BalugaWhale theorem may not be familiar to many. While it is true that poker has several theorems, this one, in particular, requires a little more explanation due to its many details. Even so, this does not mean that it is difficult to understand. BalugaWhale explains that the theorem states that “You must vigorously reevaluate the strength of a pair’s hands in the face of a raise on the turn.” When formulating a winning Texas Hold’em strategy, this bit of advice could become important.
Imagine you have in your hand an Ace of spades and a King of diamonds. With your hand, AK, you decide to raise to a 4BB bet and there is only one person who pays in late position and you both go to the flop. The flop throws out an Ace of hearts, a 9 of clubs, and a 3 of diamonds. Considering the cards on the flop, you know it’s ideal. Next, the turn shows a 7 of clubs. That may be inoffensive, but it brings the possibility of straight and flush. The opponent raises this bet and the action falls back on you, which creates a complication. During this situation, you never considered that the opponent would take the lead. According to BalugaWhale’s theorem, you need to reconsider the strength of your pair due to this raise on the turn, and you should look to fold most of the time in this spot.
In order to understand whether the theorem is effective or not, you have to ask yourself whether your opponent would raise this turn with anything less than a high pair. Clearly, the answer is no because any turn raise would open up the visibility of a significant amount of strength, and a weak top pair or worse will not justify this kind of show of strength.
Sometimes no matter how much pride we have, there come parts where folding is the wisest decision. Being out of position always brings with it less information from the opponent and that is a disadvantage. It is always necessary to think about what comes next based on the decision you make, and when you notice that the answer is something not viable, it is better to put a stop.