When to Hold…and When to Fold

Clark Lowery & LumpkinFamily LawWhen to Hold…and When to Fold

The dealer shuffles the cards and deals you two.  You’re holding an ace and king of spades and the flop reveals an ace of hearts, ace of clubs, and a 10 of diamonds. On the turn? A queen of spades.  You are one of two still in the game and you’re looking at three-of-a-kind or a possible straight flush. Do you hold ‘em and go all in or do you fold ‘em in fear that your opponent will out play you?

Poker requires a series of expeditious yet methodical decisions to ultimately decide when to hold and when to fold.  Your decision could cost you a lot of money, but if everything lays out exactly how you want, you could win big.  The key is knowing when to hold and when to fold.

Deciding whether to settle or take a case to trial is much like a poker game.  You may think that your case is solid for trial because you want to prove a point but that may come at a cost that must be vetted out before deciding.

  • When to hold ‘em: When you have undeniable evidence that will secure an unequivocal win.  These are cases where law and the facts of your case have aligned perfectly and there is nearly 100 percent confidence in the outcome.  However, these cases are not in the majority and don’t happen often.  Also, many things must be considered before proceeding.  For instance, how will the judge likely rule on this issue?  What will the counter arguments be from the opposing side?  If you lose and have to appeal, what is the likelihood of success vs. the money that will be spent?  In the end, what do you want to happen?  Additionally, there may be issues of the case that can be resolved rather quickly through agreements and stipulations and frankly, concessions.  Knowing when to throw certain issues away not only narrows the scope of litigation, it saves you from throwing money into the pot unnecessarily.  Holding on to the real issues keeps you, your attorney, and your case on track to what really matters.
  • When to fold ‘em: “Never let the side show take over the circus” is a cliché I often use to keep my clients focused on the issues of the case.  Judges like clear and concise issues that crystallize through relevant evidence.  What this means is that sometimes when you’re sitting at the table, you may need to fold if your three-of-a-kind stands to get beat by a full house.  So yes, the opposing party may have said that she stepped out of the bed on the left side on April 3, 2012.  You running down a rabbit hole, chasing evidence to show she stepped out on the right side is an issue on which you need to fold, especially when the issue on the line is parental fitness and custody. True enough, a witness’ credibility is always in question when testifying. However, chasing evidence that may not be the smoking gun to win the pot may cost you more than folding on that small issue and keeping your eyes on the prize.

At the end of the day, while you may be chasing a straight or full house and throwing all your chips on the table, the river card may only reveal a two of clubs. Did you really win if your opponent made either full house with an ace and a 10 while you’re stuck with a measly three-of-a-kind in comparison?  Or even worse, the judge takes all the cards, stops the game and you both lose money?  When it comes to family law, Kenny Rogers said it best.  You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em…and know when to fold ‘em.  Take control of your own destiny.

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