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122 Cards in this Set

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Why are ace –rags bad for restealing from Sb
1)not getting paid if you flop an ace 2)he is expecting big aces and medium to high pocket pairs so you actually have a weaker version of what he thinks you have and he will play well against you/be able to read you 3)if he hits the flop you only have like 3 outs, so money you put in trying to run him over is more expensive 4)You don’t want a showdown when you miss, so your showdown value is not worth much BUT you can play it and relinquish the lead vs an aggressive player on the flop or turn
Folded to sb, strong player completes
consider raising any two on the flop, especially high cards since they might stab at it.
Cold calling raises on the blind with pp vs 1-2 limpers
cold call 22-66, rr 77-99 is opponent dependent.
Criteria for bluff raising a medium hand on the river
1.probably wont 3-bet 2. might fold a better hand 3. you might be ahead
30-60. I raise EP with AQ, called by one poor player in late position. Flop comes ace high, with two cards smaller than a ten. I bet he raised.
1)If he had better than AQ he would have reraised pf. 2)He wouldn’t play A9 suited or unsuited, or a pair smaller than 10 vs my EP raise. I suspect he would overvalue something like AJ and call my raise. 3)His flop raise confirms this since he would wait till 4th street to raise with a better hand than mine. 4)So call his raise and CR the turn unless a 10 or J calls.
You call after two loose-passive limpers with Jh-Th, everyone folds to the BB, a decent player who is reasonably aggressive. Flop comes Qh-Tc-8c. BB bets, a bad calling station calls. Turn 2h, bb bets, limper calls.
Raise and check behind river if you don’t improve. you know that you are going to have to put two more bets in the pot, no matter what the river. BB could have any of a couple straight draws, a club flush draw, a very strong hand like a set or two pair, or a one-pair hand which is probably, but certainly not always, a Jack. The calling station could have a small pocket pair, any of a large number of draws, an overcard, or a hand that hit some of that flop we just don't know. And even if he calls the Big Blind's bet on the river, there are many pair hands he could have that you beat, so you still cannot fold for one bet. So before we even see what the river card or the action on the river is, we know that we are almost always going to be calling a bet there as well. Also, if we get re-raised (which seems fairly unlikely since many hands that could 3-bet this turn would have raised preflop) we find out our pair of Tens is certainly behind. (Since there is a third player in the pot, it is unlikely we'll get 3-bet by a worse hand or a draw.) We have plenty of straight and flush outs, so we'd have to call the re-raise, but we will improve often enough to offset the risk of getting 3-bet. And in this example, there is more than one positive benefit to raising the turn. First, there is a third player in the pot who very well could have a drawing hand, so he's more likely to be willing to put in extra money on the turn than on the river. And secondly, if we catch a 9 or a heart, the Big Blind may not be willing to bet and call a raise, he might either check-and-call or bet-and-fold, whereas if we raise the turn he might either fold a hand that has outs or decide we're semi-bluffing enough to call us down, paying off more than if we'd waited till the river (when our raise is much less likely to be a bluff).
Let's say you raise in Late Position with 7c 7s. Everyone folds to a winning (but not expert) player in the SB who 3-bets. This player is a little too aggressive and likes to make moves at pots, but also has good hand-reading skills and is able to fold when he knows he's behind. The Big Blind folds and you call. The flop comes Qc Qh 2c. He bets, you raise, he re-raises, and you call. The turn is the 2d, and your opponent bets.
In this situation, raising with the intention of checking behind on the river is preferable to calling down. Now, you might notice that I said "Raising with the intention of checking behind on the river is preferable to calling down." Many times you will want to fold your hand, either on the flop or the turn. But if you decide that your opponent is aggressive enough to be 3-betting the flop with hands like AK or 66, and you must therefore call down, raising is a better option. First, this situation fits all of the criteria we originally listed: you were planning on calling two more bets anyway, you are unlikely to get 3-bet (as long as this guy isn't extremely aggressive, he will need a Queen to re-raise you), you can safely fold if you do get 3-bet, and with all the aggression shown thus far, you are unlikely to get "donked" into on the river. The benefit of raising comes when your opponent will fold. Not only will he usually fold a hand like AK or AJ, which you are ahead of but has outs against you, but he also might fold a better pocket pair than yours (not particularly likely, but will happen occasionally).
9club 6club in sb or bb, no raise pf, first to act, flop is Kheart 9spade 3diamond, how should you play this vs different opps
This flop is completely uncoordinated, so your middle pair, no kicker is not so bad. With two opponents, you certainly should bet. There is a very decent chance that you can take down the pot at once, and if you encounter resistance, you should (most of the time) just give up on the pot, as you have very few outs against a better hand. If you have three opponents, I still would be inclined to bet, but the decision is becoming more borderline. For example, leading out from the small blind may be a little optimistic but betting the hand from the big blind after a check from the small blind is probably OK. With four opponents, you should just check and fold to a bet. It is becoming a little too unlikely that no one else has either a king or a 9, and the pot will not be big enough to justify chasing your small number of outs. A strong consideration with this flop is that when players limp in, they tend to play connected or nearly connected cards. Thus, limpers who have connected with the 9 are likely to have hands such as J-9, 10-9, 9-8, or maybe even 9-7. All of these hands leave you playing just three outs with some small extra chances to split the pot.
9club 6club in sb or bb, no raise pf, first to act- Qheart 9spade 8diamond.
This flop - featuring three cards to a straight - is very coordinated. Against either three or four opponents, it is completely clear that you should check and fold. The main problem is that in the unlikely event that your hand happens to be the best right now, you cannot take any heat whatsoever, and even if you get stubborn, you will very often be outdrawn. A player who has position on you with a worse hand, such as the 10heart 8heart or the Kheart 10heart, could easily raise, and your position is just a mess. With just two opponents, however, it is probably worth a stab at the pot, especially if they are predictable players, so that you have a decent chance to gauge where you stand if you encounter resistance. If your two opponents are tricky players, though, it is probably not worth it. When you are playing from out of position against tricky players, you want either a decent made hand or a decent draw, and you don't have either here.
9club 6club in sb or bb, no raise pf, first to act. Kheart 9spade 8diamond.
This is somewhat of a mistake of the flops in the two previous examples. At least the three cards do not form part of a straight, but having the 9-8 combination on board is still bad news, as this will connect with a lot of limping hands. However, an important point with this flop is that it is less likely that you can get pushed off your hand by a weaker drawing hand. With the flop in example No. 2, it was easy to construct holdings that were weaker than yours but could give you a hard time. Here, a player probably needs J-10 to have a weaker hand than yours that can legitimately put you under pressure. With just two opponents, you definitely should bet, and even with three, I would be more inclined to bet than check. Four is too many, though, and I would just give it up.
9club 6club in sb or bb, no raise pf, first to act. 10heart 9spade 3diamond.
This is a better flop for you than that in example No. 3, but again, the connected 10-9 is cause for concern. The three cards here (10-9-3) are lower than those in the previous example (K-9-8), and you might think that would be good for you. However, in actual fact, this is probably a worse flop for your weak hand, because you are now much more vulnerable to overcard hands such as K-Q, K-J, and Q-J. When you choose to bet in example No. 3, it suggests that you might have a king in your hand. Thus, someone with Q-J or Q-10 may assume that they only have the gutshot outs and give up on the pot. However, when someone has the equivalent hand here (say, K-J), he will be looking at up to 10 outs, as there is no longer an overcard to scare him off. Again, you should bet with just two opponents, but with three (and contrary to the previous example), I would be more inclined to check and fold than bet.
9club 6club in sb or bb, no raise pf, first to act. Jclub, 6spade 3heart.
This is more like it, and is probably the best flop for you yet. It has all of the advantages of the flop in example No. 1, but you no longer suffer from the drawback of being in a bad way against a "connecting-card" limper who also has paired the 6. Anyone who fits this bill probably has 8-6, 7-6, or 6-5, and now it is he who is playing three outs against you rather than vice versa. Kicker wars usually break out when players have big Broadway cards, with hands like A-Q butting up against A-J. However, they are just as relevent lower down the scale. Of course, you are still struggling here if someone has a jack, but at least if you are behind, you probably have five good outs. In example No. 1, there was a greater danger that you were already behind, and when you were, you were often playing just three outs. I would definitely bet this hand against two or three opponents, and probably against four, also.
01-This is an eight-player game and you are in the big blind with the Aheart 10heart. The under-the-gun player, who is to your immediate left, is pretty loose preflop and likes to get involved in a lot of hands. However, you have noticed that although he handicaps himself by playing too many hands, he is actually quite skilled post-flop. He has a good feel for what is going on and is quite capable of making plays - raising appropriately, bluffing, semibluffing, and so on. In fact, he likes to make such plays. On this occasion, he limps in and everyone folds around to you.
Of course, you can check, but you know that he probably has quite a feeble holding. Your A-10 is likely to be the best hand right now, so, quite reasonably, you elect to raise. He calls.
02-There are four and a half small bets in the pot and the flop comes down 10club 9club 7spade, giving you top pair, top kicker. This is not a bad flop, by any means, but you have to be concerned about its coordinated nature, especially considering that your opponent limped in originally. Players who like to get involved will often limp in with middling cards, and there is a danger that this flop has hit him big time. Nevertheless, you of course bet, and he calls fairly quickly. There are now three and a quarter big bets in the pot and the turn is a harmless 2diamond. You bet, and he again calls. There are five and a quarter big bets in the pot and the river brings the 6club.
First of all, you know that he plays well post-flop and likes to make plays. However, in this particular hand, he has simply called your flop and turn bets rather than raise. If the 6club really has helped his hand, it is probable that he has an 8 in his hand and has now made a straight, or has two clubs and has now completed a flush. So, are these holdings likely? Not really. If he had a hand that included either an 8 or a couple of clubs, he would have had a very good drawing hand on the flop and most likely would have raised. But he didn't raise - he just called. This strongly implies that he has some sort of mediocre made hand. Furthermore, if he had such a hand on the flop and turn, he still does, and will probably call a bet on the river.
Here is another example: This is a 10-player game and you are in the big blind with the Jheart 9heart. The under-the-gun player (UTG) is a moderate, solid player who has very tight preflop standards. Let's consider two ways that this hand can be played: 1. The UTG opens with a raise, a middle-position player calls, and you call. There are three players in the pot and six and a half small bets. The flop comes Qclub 10heart 8club, giving you a straight. There are various ways to play here, but you decide to check. The UTG bets, the middle-position player folds, and you raise. The UTG now three-bets, you cap, and he calls. There are seven and a quarter big bets in the pot and the turn brings the 4diamond. You bet and he calls. There are nine and a quarter big bets in the pot and the river is the Aclub. You bet, and he raises. OOORRR 2. The UTG limps in and a middle-position player raises. You call, as does the UTG. The play from here on in is identical to that in No. 1 above. Again, you bet the river and get raised.
The A has made a flush possible, as well as created the possibility of a Broadway straight. Rather than just make an instant call and hope for the best, let's think about what the UTG might actually hold.
You are playing in a game with opponents who in general appear to be competent but rather passive. Much of the time when players show strength, the opposition simply backs off. A middle-position player limps in and everyone folds around to the small blind, who also calls. You are in the big blind with the Kclub 5diamond and check. There are three players in the pot and three small bets. The flop comes down Kheart 7diamond 2spade and the small blind checks. Your first instinct should now be that this is a very decent flop for you, and that you should bet your hand. However, you notice that this is a tiny pot and your hand is actually rather strong. There is a saying in chess that when you see a good move, you should stop and look for a better one. Is there a better move here? Is this a good moment to check and slow-play the hand? Pros/cons?
In fact, the arguments in favor of slow-playing here are rather persuasive: 1. The pot is tiny - just three small bets. 2. The flop is completely uncoordinated, so your opponents are most unlikely to stumble into straights and/or flushes. 3. You are vulnerable to only one overcard. 4. If you bet now, it is probable that everybody will fold. However, if you check, an opponent with a hand such as 9-8 may make a pair on the turn or pick up a straight draw. He will not get the right price to pursue this draw, so you will benefit from bets that go into the pot on the turn, regardless of the actual outcome of the hand.
Slowplaying-passive opponents 1. You hold the Qclub 5diamond in the bb, sb checks and the flop is Qheart 7diamond 2spade.
Slow-playing is now becoming more dangerous. There are two overcards that can arrive rather than one, and this tilts the scale in favor of betting out and being satisfied with taking the pot down at once - if indeed that is the outcome.
Slowplaying- passive opponents 2. You hold the Jclub 5diamond and the flop is Jheart 7diamond 2spade in the bb, sb checks.
Slow-playing in the previous example was doubtful - and now it is simply horrible. You are vulnerable to three overcards and there is a more subtle problem, in that the high card - the jack - is now within touching distance of the 7, and this makes gutshot-straight draws possible. All sorts of draws can appear on the turn, and you must make players pay to see that card.
Slowplaying- passive opponents 3. You hold the Kclub 5diamond in the bb, sb checks and the flop is Kheart 8spade 7spade
Again, you must bet here, as slow-playing is simply wrong. The key difference with the original scenario is the 8spade 7spade combination, which has replaced the 7diamond 2spade. This creates numerous drawing possibilities and makes it much more likely that you will get action with a straightforward bet. If an opponent has a hand like J-9 or J-10, he will think that he has as many as 10 outs, and may even take an aggressive posture in the hand. The point is that with the Kheart 7diamond 2spade on the flop, it is hard to imagine a hand (other than one containing a 7) that will give you action. With the Kheart 8spade 7spade on board, there is a much greater chance that you can get action without going to the trouble (and potential danger) of slow-playing.
Slowplaying- passive opponents 4. You hold the Kclub 5diamond and the flop is Kheart 7spade 2spade in the bb, sb checks.
This is borderline. The flop is not at all connected, but it does feature a two-flush, and this in itself is always a danger. If the flop round is checked around and a third spade comes, it will inevitably make it difficult for you to play the hand accurately.
There is another point here that becomes clear if you consider the situation from the point of view of your opponents. On flop of Kheart 7diamond 2spade in the bb, sb checks
When the flop is Kheart 7diamond 2spade and you bet, it looks like you have a pair, as there is no hint of a draw anywhere. One of your opponents may be suspicious that you are stealing, but with the pot being so small, he is unlikely to go to the trouble of calling you down to find out.
There is another point here that becomes clear if you consider the situation from the point of view of your opponents. On flop of Kheart 7spade 2spade in the bb, sb checks
when you bet into the flop of Kheart 7spade 2spade, players will think that you might have a pair, but that it's also possible that you are pushing a flush draw. Now, a player with a hand such as 3-3 or A-9 might be more inclined to look you up. Again, the point is that you can generate "natural" action with a straightforward bet and don't need to get involved in slow-playing.
Slowplaying #5 You hold the Qclub 5diamond and the flop is Qheart 7diamond 2spade, or you hold the Kclub 5diamond and the flop is Kheart 7spade 2spade in the bb, sb checks. These are examples No. 2 and No. 4 respectively, but now the game is a more lively one. Although the players appear to be no more competent than in the original examples, they are now a much more active bunch - pushing draws, bluffing, and semibluffing. How is this different from the passive players?
Now, slow-playing becomes more attractive. Just because players like to be active does not mean that they are suicidal. If you bet now and no one has anything, everyone will most likely still give up. However, if the flop round is checked around and players pick up a piece of the board on the turn, you could get some decent action. In these circumstances it is worth taking a risk by allowing a free card. If someone then bets and you raise, you could get him to put two big bets into the pot when he is drawing pretty thin.
our hero is in the big blind, and a tight, aggressive player open-raises from under the gun. This player plays by the book and will have a very decent hand for this raise. The next eight players fold and our hero is looking at the 5 5 and decides to call. Folding is probably preferable, as the hand is difficult to play post-flop, but never mind - he calls. The flop is a rare pretty sight: 8 5 2 Barring some horrible accident, our hero is now certain to win, and the only question is how to extract the most money from his unfortunate victim. . If you wait to check-raise the turn, what will happen?
1. The under-the-gun raiser has either a big pair or just overcards. 2. He is a tight, aggressive player, so we should get some action. 3. We are almost certain to win the hand. 4. We would like to play the hand in such a way as to maximize our profit regardless of the holding of the other player. If you wait to check-raise the turn, when the other player has a big pair, our hero wins seven small bets, but what if the other player has just high cards? Now when our hero checks the turn, he may take a free card to avoid the danger of the check-raise. Even if he bets, and our hero raises, he will probably fold and our hero wins three small bets. If he takes the free card, he may make a crying call on the river, and again our hero probably makes three small bets.
our hero is in the big blind, and a tight, aggressive player open-raises from under the gun. This player plays by the book and will have a very decent hand for this raise. The next eight players fold and our hero is looking at the 5 5 and decides to call. Folding is probably preferable, as the hand is difficult to play post-flop, but never mind - he calls. The flop is a rare pretty sight: 8 5 2 Barring some horrible accident, our hero is now certain to win, and the only question is how to extract the most money from his unfortunate victim. What happens if we try leading out on the flop?
First, the other player has his big pair. Now it will be tempting for him to trap you by just calling the flop, waiting to raise on the turn. If this is his play, you will be able to three-bet on the expensive street and could end up winning nine small bets, assuming he calls and calls the river. If, instead, he raises the flop, you can three-bet and he will still find it hard to believe he is in trouble. It looks very much like you are making a strong, aggressive heads-up play with a good drawing hand. He may cap the pot, and then if a harmless-looking card (from his point of view) arrives on the turn, you can probably trap him with a check-raise. Your payoff could now climb to as many as 10 small bets. Now let's give the other player high cards and see how it works out. Again, you lead out on the flop. Most strong, aggressive players will now raise to maintain control of the hand, and you can three-bet. He is certainly not going to fold here, and will at least call. Now if a blank comes on the turn and you bet, he will probably fold. However, a sneaky play would be to check, instead. This will present him with a dilemma. If you really are drawing, he will not want to give a free card and may bet. This is, of course, great news, and you now check-raise, thus winning a minimum of five small bets. However, even if he checks the turn, you can then bet the river and now he will be suspicious that you missed a draw and may well call. Again, you can pick up five small bets.
21. First of all, you limp in. The big blind can now either check or raise.
The 10 9 is a decent enough holding when playing heads up with position, and the big blind should raise. Although the high-card strength is poor, in many ways this hand actually plays better than something stronger, such as A-3, for a couple of reasons: (a) It's hard to win much money with A-3. If an ace comes on the flop, your opponent will "expect" you to have an ace because of your preflop raise (or at least consider it very possible), and is unlikely to give you much action. (b) Your opponent is tricky, so if you miss the flop and get heat, you might want to stick around. Now, with the 10 9, you almost certainly will have more outs than with A-3. For example, if the flop is Q-8-4, you could have up to 10 outs if your opponent has made a pair. With A-3, you have a maximum of three.
22. The Flop. The flop comes down J 8 6. Regardless of the preflop play, you will now bet. If the big blind calls, play moves on to the turn. If the big blind raises, you will just call.
Raising is again correct. The big blind has position and an excellent draw, with a minimum of eight outs to the straight and quite possibly more by pairing. The flop is reasonably coordinated and features a two-flush, and it is perfectly possible that the small blind also has some sort of draw. It is not that likely that the small blind holds a jack, as playing for a check-raise would be more natural with such a strong holding for heads-up play.
23. The turn brings the A. Again, regardless of the earlier play, you will now bet. The big blind may call, in which case we move on to the river. If he decides to raise, you will just call. The Turn. There are two ways that the turn can be analyzed. Let's consider each case
(a) The big blind just called on the flop. This is a reasonable play if it is made with the intention of raising on the turn. When the small blind bets out, the ace is a great scare card, and raising is a good play. We know that the small blind is a decent, tricky player, and could well be on a weak draw. The big blind's preflop raise showed strength, and it is quite plausible that the ace has helped. The small blind might now very well fold with a low pair. (b) The big blind raised the flop, but now the small blind has bet out on the ace, anyway. This is suspicious. If the small blind held an ace, it is most likely that he would have raised preflop, but he only limped and then showed strength with a board of middling cards. How can this ace possibly help unless he has a hand such as A-6 or A-8? Furthermore, with a hand that strong, it would be very tempting to go for a check-raise. It instead looks as though the small blind is using the ace as a scare card (as indeed he is), but he does not hold a monopoly on that particular tactic. When the scare tactics come from the big blind, he should be more convincing and more frightening. A raise here is an excellent play, which maximizes the big blind's potential.
24. The river brings the 2, for a board of J 8 6 A 2. At this point, what you do as the small blind depends upon the previous play. If the play on the turn went bet, raise, call, you will now check and fold to a bet. If the play went bet, call, you will now bet. If the big blind raises, you will fold. The River. Again, there are two ways to analyze the river
(a) The big blind just called on the turn. Now, when the small blind bets the river, the only sensible play is to give up and fold. Of course, as the cards stand, the big blind can win by bluff-raising, but this is - in principle - a very odd way to play the hand. The 2 appears utterly harmless. Why should this encourage a raise on the river? The small blind should now call with more or less anything - and certainly any pair. (b) The big blind raised the turn. Now, the small blind will check, the big blind should bet, and the small blind will fold. The big blind is rewarded for good aggressive handling of his draw.
31. you are playing in the small blind in a sixhanded $20-$40 hold'em game. You have two opponents, MrStrong and MrWeak, who are both often to be found playing shorthanded and are well known to you. MrStrong is a decent shorthanded player. He is aggressive and is perfectly capable of causing trouble by playing hard with weak made hands, drawing hands, or even nothing at all. He also is perfectly capable of folding when he thinks he is beat. He is a fairly liberal steal-raiser and will try it from the button with some pretty ropey holdings. MrWeak, on the other hand, plays shorthanded games as if he were in a full ring game. He seems to understand that you must be aggressive in these games, but he hardly ever is. He will open-raise preflop, but beyond the flop he is rather predictable - raising only with good made hands and strong draws. You have never seen him pushing a weak draw or running a bluff. However, like many solid players, he is a bit suspicious and tends to call down without a great deal. If he has a pair of deuces or a decent ace, he will often look you up. He is rather tight in his preflop requirements, and probably will have something reasonable if he open-raises even if he is on the button.
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32. you are in the small blind, MrWeak in BB and MrStrong open-raises from the button. First let's assume you are lucky enough to have a big pair (J-J through A-A).
There is nothing much to think about here - you obviously reraise. Incidentally, some players will just call, hoping to lure the big blind in and build a big pot. However, this is just bad play. If the big blind does call, all you have achieved is increase the number of your opponents rather than increase the size of the pot (if you reraise, the button will - at least - call, and this will still generate one extra small bet in the pot).
33. you are in the small blind, MrWeak in BB and MrStrong open-raises from the button. If you have a slightly lower pair (8-8, 9-9, or 10-10)
you still must reraise. Again, this is straightforward. You do not want to give MrWeak in the big blind a cheap call with something like K-4 suited and watch him make a pair of kings on the flop. You want him out of the pot so that you can play MrStrong heads up with (possibly) a much stronger hand than his.
34. . you are in the small blind, MrWeak in BB and MrStrong open-raises from the button .As your pair deteriorates below 8-8
there comes a point at which you don't really want to be three-betting. With a hand like 8-8, you are unlikely to be a big underdog to the button (he would need a higher pair for this to be the case), but at the same time, there is a good chance that you can be a solid favorite. This will be the case if MrStrong is playing a small pair or an A-X hand, where X is small - and these are perfectly reasonable open-raising hands from the button. However, once you drop down to something like 3-3, the dynamics of the situation change. It is almost impossible for you to be a solid favorite, and you are now slightly more likely to be a big underdog to a higher pair. In principle, you are about a 55 percent to 45 percent favorite against MrStrong's most likely holding - two random overcards - but you are out of position and MrStrong is a skillful player. This is not a great situation to be in unless you are fortunate enough to flop a set. Much of the time, he is going to give you heat on the flop or turn, and you will be playing guessing games. Occasionally, he will have absolutely nothing and will fold - but then you won't be making any money. Meanwhile, because he is tricky, you are going to be obliged to pay him off quite often. Playing a tiny pair from out of position against a skilled player is just not a profitable proposition.
35. you are in the small blind, MrWeak in BB and MrStrong open-raises from the button .As your pair deteriorates below 8-8So, can you call preflop instead? Why?
No. This doesn't work, either. It is most likely that MrWeak will call with anything except a very terrible hand, and he will be right to do so because his pot odds are 5-to-1 (he will be putting $20 into a $100 pot). Your call with your small pair is offering 3-to-1 pot odds (after the big blind calls, there will be $120 in the pot and you will have contributed $30 with your call). Your chance of flopping a set is 7.5-to-1, which is obviously insufficient, and with just two opponents, the implied odds are also feeble. It is best to fold.
36. you are in the small blind, MrWeak in BB and MrStrong open-raises from the button .An interesting question is at what point does your small pair become a fold rather than a reraise here?
I would say that 6-6 is about borderline against a moderately aggressive steal-raiser.
37. Let's now switch the players round so that MrWeak is open-raising from the button and MrStrong is in the big blind. How will this affect your decision when you have a pair?
The answer is - only slightly. You now will probably reraise rather than fold with even lower pairs. How low you go more or less depends on how comfortable you feel about playing MrWeak heads up. If you think you can read him fairly accurately, you can even reraise with a pair of deuces. If you can get away from the hand when he outflops you, but he will pay you off much of the time when he doesn't, this becomes a profitable situation.
38. you are in the small blind, MrWeak in BB and MrStrong open-raises from the button . you have unpaired high cards. With the big hands (A-K, A-Q, A-J, A-10, and maybe A-9)
you reraise, and this is an obvious decision. There is a good chance that you are dominating the button, so you definitely want the big blind out. Your hand will then have a good chance to stand up even if you don't improve.
39. you are in the small blind, MrWeak in BB and MrStrong open-raises from the button . you have unpaired high cards. What do you do, however, if you have a couple of moderate high cards, say K-10 or Q-J? Let's say you have the K 10
not a great hand, but quite possibly better than MrStrong's (remember, he is a pretty aggressive stealer). If you fold this hand here, you are giving up too much, so this looks like a good situation for a reraise. We know that MrStrong will make plays post-flop, but he is also capable of folding a bad hand. If we get MrWeak out and get heads up with MrStrong, good things can happen: 1. We may actually have the best hand. 2. He might fold a weak A-X hand (if he is dominated, he is playing just three outs) if he misses the flop. 3. If the flop is scary but misses you, he might fold a low pair. 4. If we miss the flop and MrStrong gives us heat, it is easier to get away from the hand, as K-10 doesn't have much in the way of showdown value. When you are playing a pair of fours and MrStrong gives you heat, you may decide to fold, but there may well be the nagging suspicion that he pushed you off the best hand. It is easier to dump K-10 with a clear conscience.
391. you are in the small blind, MrWeak in BB and MrStrong open-raises from the button . you have unpaired high cards. What do you do, however, if you have a couple of moderate high cards, say K-10 or Q-J? Again, there will come a point when your "moderate" high cards become a bit too weak to justify taking the initiative with a reraise. What is it?
I would say Q-J and Q-10 are borderline, and J-10 is certainly too weak.
392 Now let's swap and put MrWeak on the button. You in sb. MrStrong in BB. MrWeak raises.
Suddenly, reraising doesn't look so attractive. OK, we probably get MrStrong out and end up heads up with MrWeak, but this is now not such a great situation: 1. We probably don't have the best hand. 2. From what we know of MrWeak, he may look us up with a weak A-X hand. 3. He also may get obstinate when holding a small pair. Reraising is a better strategy against MrStrong because it will sometimes be possible to win without making a hand, whereas against MrWeak, this is less likely. So, if reraising is not all that attractive, is there another way to play the hand? Obviously, we can fold, but K-10 suited is not such a bad hand against a steal-raise. We can call.
393 Now let's swap and put MrWeak on the button. You in sb. MrStrong in BB. MrWeak raises. Can we break the rules and call?
I actually think that this line of play has much to be said for it. The key point is that with the stubborn MrWeak on the button, you are likely to have to make a hand to win the pot. As we know, you are getting 3-to-1 pot odds for your call (assuming MrStrong calls, but you are also happy if he folds) and you have a 2-to-1 chance to make a pair plus some small extra chances to hit some kind of useful draw. So, bearing in mind that it is not all that likely that you are dominated, you certainly have pot odds to call. Of course, there is a drawback, in that you are letting MrStrong in cheaply, but does this really matter? If you are just calling with your K 10 and he comes along with, say, the 9 8, are you really that worried? By calling, you are treating your holding as a drawing hand (for which you have decent odds), and when playing a draw, you don't mind extra players being involved. They build up the pot and also may make a moderate hand that encourages them to pay you off. If the flop now misses you, - in general - you are just going to fold and it cost you only one and a half small bets. However, if you do connect with the flop, you are in a good position to check-raise and build a decent pot with a decent hand. In these circumstances, it seems to me that calling preflop is a better way to handle your moderate holding than reraising. If you reraise and miss the flop, you will feel obliged to pump away at the pot when MrWeak is sitting there stubbornly with his A-X or small pair.
It is an online $20-$40 limit hold'em game and our hero is on the button with the 10 9. An early-position player limps in, our hero calls, the small blind folds, and now the big blind (a straightforward player) pops up with a raise. The early-position player and hero call. There is $130 in the pot and three players. The flop comes down K 8 7. The big blind bets and the early-position player folds. There is $150 in the pot and it is $20 to call. Our hero has flopped an open-end straight draw and should now do what?
raise. He has eight outs to the nuts (barring some freak holding for the big blind), and possibly another six by pairing his 9 or 10. If the big blind holds high cards that have missed the flop (for example, A-Q or A-J), he will probably call (even if only out of inertia) but will be hard-pressed to call a bet on the turn if a blank hits. Even if he has a decent pair, say 9-9, 10-10, J-J, or Q-Q, he will still probably slow down, as he will be concerned that he is drawing pretty thin against a pair of kings. If he is in weak-tight mode, he may even fold a medium pair, although, of course, he certainly shouldn't. If he has a strong hand - for example, A-A or A-K - and reraises, our hero has eight good outs and is a 2-to-1 underdog to win the pot. Finally, even if he is up against the monster K-K, he has a good draw and is a 3-to-1 underdog to win, anyway. Whatever happens, the flop raise is absolutely the correct play against straightforward players.
It is an online $20-$40 limit hold'em game and our hero is on the button with the 10 9. An early-position player limps in, our hero calls, the small blind folds, and now the big blind (a stronger, thinking player) pops up with a raise. The early-position player and hero call. There is $130 in the pot and three stronger, thinking players. The flop comes down K 8 7. The big blind bets and the early-position player folds. There is $150 in the pot and it is $20 to call. Our hero has flopped an open-end straight draw and should now do what?
it may be better to play the hand differently. A stronger player will suspect what you are up to and may three-bet you with a hand like 10-10 and then lead out on the turn. He may even make such a play with a much weaker hand - say A-Q - suspecting (correctly) that you are on a draw or hoping to get you to lay down a weaker hand, such as 9-8. Against such players, it may be better to wait for the turn to raise, even if you miss your draw. This is a high-risk strategy, but a raise on the turn will get more respect from a strong player. Weaker, more straightforward players are more likely to react to your flop raise by giving you credit for a king and scuttling away.
41. Now let's consider a more complex example, again from a $20-$40 game. This time, our hero is on the button with the A J. The under-the-gun player is BigLeak. BigLeak has appalling preflop standards and gets involved far, far too often, playing approximately 60 percent to 70 percent of pots, even in full ring games. Nevertheless, he actually plays reasonably well beyond the flop, in that he can be quite aggressive and is also capable of bluffing and making moves. The fact that he will play almost any cards preflop, combined with his tricky play post-flop, makes him hard to read, as almost any flop can potentially hit him. Obviously, he is horribly handicapped by his preflop play, and you love to have him in the game, but you have to be honest and recognize that he is hard to play post-flop. BigLeak limps in and a middle-position player, RockSolid, limps in, too. RockSolid is a competent, sensible, but rather transparent player. He can make moves, but they tend to be rather pedestrian and predictable. He is also rather weak-tight and spends too much time checking, calling, and even folding when he ought to be betting and raising. Both BigLeak and RockSolid have been in this game for a while. Like all very loose players, when things go well for BigLeak, he can notch up some remarkable winning sessions. However, at the moment he is running bad and has been caught running numerous desperate bluffs/semibluffs when his feeble hands have missed the flop. RockSolid has been ... well ... rock solid, and has caught BigLeak on a couple of occasions.
only a player description
42. $20-$40 game. This time, our hero is on the button with the A J. Our hero has position and a good hand, and raises. The blinds abandon the struggle. BigLeak and RockSolid both call. There is $150 in the pot and three players. The flop comes down 5 5 3 two clubs. BigLeak now pops up with a bet and - rather surprisingly - RockSolid raises. Our hero, who was the preflop aggressor but has now seen a bet and a raise on the flop before the action even gets to him, is completely thrown. He can see there is $210 in the pot and it is $40 to call.
He considers calling with his overcards, as the pot odds are OK if he can assume he has six outs. However, he is worried that someone might have a 5 in his hand, and he is also concerned about RockSolid's raise. He doesn't like it. He knows how RockSolid plays and thinks. So, he says to himself, "Well, I've only got overcards
43 Answer from 1 continued--- What about RockSolid? He is a competent player and has a good line on BigLeak, as he has caught him bluffing a couple of times. He knows that BigLeak probably doesn't have a lot, and thinks that his hand is almost certainly better than his. He is raising to put pressure on you, hoping to get heads up with BigLeak. He is very likely to hold a medium pair - 6-6, 7-7, or 8-8 - although there is a chance he has two clubs. He won't have a big pair, as he would have raised preflop, and he won't have a couple of random high cards, as he would not raise with them on the flop
he is just not the type of player to make such a move. The arguments for three-betting here are numerous, and compelling: 1. This is a decent-sized pot and it is worth fighting for.
2. Our hero is very likely to win if he hits one of his six outs. Holding the A is important, as it means that the only out that is tainted is the J, which would complete a flush draw. However, even then he would have a redraw on the river. In fact, the backdoor-flush draw gives him a little extra equity in the pot.
3. Sometimes when you have overcards, you have to be cautious, as one card can be completely dead. For example, you have A-K, your opponent has A-7, and the flop is 10-7-5. Now you must hit a king to win. Here, however, this cannot happen. If BigLeak has A-3, hitting an ace will not help him, as the pair of fives on board counterfeits his threes. 4. Our hero has position on both opponents and the three-bet, combined with the preflop raise, shows a lot of strength. Unless one of them happens to have a 5 (which is rather improbable), they are going to back off and our hero can then take a free card on the turn if he wishes. 5. BigLeak may well fold now rather than call two bets, and then our hero will be heads up with RockSolid. Even if he decides to stick around with a medium pair and our hero must hit his hand to win, our hero has a 24 percent chance of doing so by the river. Thus, our hero more or less has value for his raise. He is putting $60 into a $210 pot, but if BigLeak folds and RockSolid calls, it will be $230.
51. Our hero is in middle position in an eighthanded $10-$20 hold'em game. The button is MrFish, a very terrible player who plays far too many hands, plays them very passively, and pays off too much. The big blind is MrTricky, who, although no superstar, is a decent player who likes to mix things up and make plays. Our hero has the A K and opens with a raise. MrFish calls (as he invariably does) and MrTricky lobs in $10 more to see the flop. There are three players and $60 in the pot. The flop comes 10 7 3. MrTricky now bets out. Our hero surveys the situation.
He has two overcards, giving (probably) six direct outs, and he knows he can add on a little more for the backdoor possibilities. The pot is offering 7-to-1, so he concludes that this is an easy call and that is indeed his play. MrFish also calls.There are three players and $90 in the pot. The turn brings the 4 (10 7 3 4) and MrTricky now checks. Our hero has now picked up a flush draw to go with his overcards, and knowing that he really ought to be aggressive, he now bets. Both players call. The river brings the 5 (10 7 3 4 5). MrTricky checks, as do our hero and MrFish. For a moment, our hero's hopes are raised as MrTricky turns up the 9 8 for a busted straight draw. Unfortunately, MrFish turns over the A 5 and takes the pot with his pair of fives. Of course, MrFish played horribly and was undeservedly rewarded. Where was the mistake?
51-Here is another example: This time, our hero is playing in an eighthanded $10-$20 hold'em game and is in the big blind. The small blind is a fairly loose, passive player who plays sensibly enough but rarely causes any trouble. The first six players all fold, and now the small blind calls by putting in $5. Our hero, who has been looking at the exciting 5 2, is surprised to find himself still in the pot, and he checks. The flop is the Q Q 9, and the small blind checksNaturally, our hero checks it back, and the turn brings the 5 (Q Q 9 5). Now, the small blind bets. There is $40 in the pot and it is $20 to our hero. He now wakes up and starts thinking about the hand. Why has the small blind suddenly bet out on the 5 when his previous play has been so passive?
He sees various possiblities: 1. He could have paired the 5. In that case, the pot is likely to be split. 2. He might have a couple of random hearts and is making a play for the pot by semibluffing with a flush draw. 3. Our hero remembers that he too has not exactly been ferociously active in the pot and the small blind may be on a stone-cold steal. 4. He might have been slow-playing a big hand. Once he has thought this through, he decides that his hand is well worth a call. He even considers raising (he knows that you must play poker aggressively, after all), but the pot is small and he decides that this is probably over the top with his rather feeble holding. He doesn't see a lot wrong with calling.
52-The river brings the 6 (Q Q 9 5 6) and the small blind again bets. Now, there is nothing to think about. Our hero calls and is rather frustrated when the small blind shows the 7 6 and beats his pair of fives with a pair of sixes. The small blind had picked up a gutshot-straight draw on the turn and was making a reasonable play for the pot. He got lucky on the river, but I believe he deserved it, as he was the only player who made any sort of play for the pot.Our hero is now a bit cross and senses that this hand - much like the previous one - somehow slipped through his fingers. Thinking it through, he begins to suspect that he should have raised on the turn. He actually had the best hand at that point, and a raise probably would have gotten the small blind to fold, as he would have been scared that our hero was slow-playing a queen (or even a 9) and he had nowhere near the right pot odds to chase the gutshot.
The real error occurred much earlier in the hand. First, let's rewind and consider the preflop play.
61 When you are involved in heads-up or shorthanded battles, the dynamics of play between the blinds can become quite complex.
For example, the small blind might limp quite often with some very decent hands in order to "protect" limps at other stages with much weaker holdings. However, in a random ring game, a limp from a passive small blind almost certainly means what it says: "I have a pretty feeble hand, but I would like a cheap look at the flop, please - if you don't mind." However, this is not a dinner party, it's a poker game, and you should mind. You should charge the small blind an extra bet to look at the flop with anything but the very worst hands. Sometimes when you raise here, he notices that he is out of position, reconsiders his piece of junk, and folds immediately. Needless to say, this is a great result.
62 Having said that, the 5 2 does indeed fall squarely into the category of
"the very worst hands," and although I would not criticize a raise here, the hand is so awful that it is quite reasonable to check.
63 Now, the flop comes Q Q 9 and the small blind checks. Our hero is looking down at 5 high and checks it back. Stop! This check is a big, big error. Why?
The small blind is a passive player, he has limped in preflop, and now he has checked the flop. So, what does he have? In all likelihood, absolute zilch, and it is most unlikely that he can call a bet here. A $10 bet here stands to take down a $20 pot, and thus has to succeed 33 percent of the time to break even. I would suggest that a bet here has about a 75 percent to 80 percent chance of taking down the pot at once. Of course, the small blind may well understand that you are on a steal with no hand, but what can he do about it - call you down with 7 high? A trickier opponent might raise back, attempting a re-steal, but we know that the small blind is passive and is not likely to go to war over a $20 pot. He will dump his hand and move on, and you will be $20 better off. It's not much, but it is one big bet, and many players are happy to earn that over an hour. Here, you have made it in 30 seconds by the simple virtue of not being asleep.
71-The first opponent is RagingBull. RagingBull is very loose and very aggressive, betting and raising at every opportunity and running bluffs and semibluffs with the slightest provocation. However, although aggressive, he is not reckless. If it is obvious he is beat, he is perfectly capable of mucking, and he also will not chase hopeless longshots. His aggression mainly manifests itself preflop and on the flop, especially in shorthanded and heads-up play. He invariably open-raises rather than limp in and he tries to take down pots quickly with his aggressive play. His post-flop play is more circumspect. Many players play like this. The second opponent is TheRabbit, who is the complete opposite of RagingBull. He is very timid and tends to scuttle away into his burrow at the slightest sign of danger. If he has a decent hand and gets heat, his natural reaction is to limp to the river with a series of calls to see if his hand holds up. He does not make pressure plays, preferring to call down even with quite decent holdings. He is a wonderful opponent, as he pays you off when you have the goods and lets you draw cheaply when you are the underdog. He also is invariably a preflop limper, raising only with premium holdings.
player descriptions
72-You are in the big blind in a $20-$40 hold'em game, holding A 9. The cutoff turns out to be your opponent in this pot, and as we discuss the hand, this will alternate between being RagingBull and TheRabbit. It is passed around to RagingBull/TheRabbit, who open-raises. The button and small blind fold. There is an argument for reraising here, but you decide to call. The flop is delightful for you: A 10 9, giving you two pair on a relatively unthreatening board. There is $90 in the pot and it is $20 to bet. How are you going to play the hand vs Raging Bull
Your strategy should very much depend on who your opponent is. First of all, let us assume that your opponent is RagingBull. In this case, the best plan is probably to bet out. If you are lucky and he is holding a good hand such as A-K or A-Q, he will raise and you can three-bet or possibly wait to pop him on the turn. You could end up with very good action. Even if he has a modest holding that has vaguely connected with the flop, he may raise to try to take the initiative. Whatever he is holding, RagingBull will want to compete hard, and since it is very likely indeed that you have the best hand, this will be good news.
73-You are in the big blind in a $20-$40 hold'em game, holding A 9. The cutoff turns out to be TheRabbit. It is passed around TheRabbit, who open-raises. The button and small blind fold. There is an argument for reraising here, but you decide to call. The flop is delightful for you: A 10 9, giving you two pair on a relatively unthreatening board. There is $90 in the pot and it is $20 to bet. How are you going to play the hand vs TheRabbit?
You are slightly surprised that he open-raised, as it is much more usual for him to limp preflop. He probably has something fairly decent, which may or may not have connected with the flop. If you lead out, he may raise you, but he is very likely to just call. So, your best plan is to check, planning a check-raise. Even a player as timid as TheRabbit will probably bet after you check, so at least you can guarantee getting two small bets in the pot on the flop. Let us assume that you check, TheRabbit bets, you check-raise, and TheRabbit calls.
74-Let us assume that you bet out, RagingBull raises, you three-bet, and RagingBull just calls. After the turn, the board is A 10 9 6. There were three bets on the flop, so there is $210 in the pot. It is $40 to bet. You bet and RagingBull calls. On the river, the board reads A 10 9 6 J. You bet and RagingBull now raises
It is not that likely that RagingBull is launching a hopeless bluff, so the jack probably helped him in some way.
75- Having played out the hand against RagingBull, we now return to TheRabbit. There was just a bet and a raise on the flop, so there is only $170 in the pot although this will have no bearing on the subsequent play. Again, after the turn, the board is A 10 9 6, and again, you bet and TheRabbit calls. On the river, the board reads A 10 9 6 J. You bet and now get raised. Bearing in mind the very different style of TheRabbit, how should you now respond?
(A) A-J, and we are losing. This is very likely. It is good enough to encourage TheRabbit to open-raise but also insufficiently powerful (from his timid point of view) to prevent him from switching into call-down mode when he gets check-raised on the flop. (B) J-10 and J-9, and we are winning. This is possible, but not very likely. The key piece of evidence here is that we know TheRabbit generally likes to limp preflop, even from late position. These are classic limping hands. In fact, TheRabbit is so passive that he might even just call on the river with these hands, being afraid (justifiably - as it turns out) of a better two pair. (C) J-J, and we are losing. This is certainly possible. This holding would be quite in keeping with TheRabbit's play to date. (D) K-Q, and we are losing. This is certainly possible. Players like TheRabbit are not great observers of pot odds, and the lousy call on the turn for the gutshot would be fairly typical of his play.
pocket aces in the small blind. A good, aggressive opponent raised from the cutoff position, and you reraised. Cutoff calls. flop of Kspade 4diamond 4heart, you bet, he raised, and you called. Turn 8spade.
check-call the turn and raise the river. You are headsup. He will almost always keep betting as there was no chance that he was on a draw, since there weren’t any on the flop, and he might fold to a raise on the turn since he is good.
Raising the turn or river--The number of players
In general, you always want to raise on the turn when you have the best hand and are facing two or more opponents. At least one of them will probably not be around to pay you off on the river, and you need to get the extra bets in now. Also, one could fold to your raise, making it more likely that you will win. Only when you are heads up should you weigh the options of raising on the turn or the river.
Raising the turn or river--Your position
It is easier to delay your raise from the turn to the river if you are in position. If your opponent bets on the turn and you call, and he crosses you up and checks on the river, you will get at least one bet in. If you are out of position and decide to check-raise on the river, your opponent may check behind you, and you will collect nothing on that street. Jennifer’s play from out of position was much tougher than if she were in position, so she relied on some of the other factors.
Raising the turn or river --How aggressive your opponent is
When you decide to wait until the river to raise, you are relying on your opponent to keep betting. The more aggressive he is, the more likely it is that this will happen. Some opponents fear the river so much that they tend to check almost no matter what hits. Against these players, you have to raise on the turn. On the other hand, others just keep bulling their way totally unfazed by scare cards, your calls, or anything else. They believe they have the best hand and are willing to back it. If you raise on the turn, some of these players are good enough to realize they are beat and can make a good laydown, but they will call a raise on the river. In addition, raising on the river works well against frequent bluffers. In this case, your raise will shut them down. Waiting until the river gains you an extra bet against frequent bluffers, while breaking even against aggressive players.
Raising the turn or river --The nature of the flop and turn
If the flop presents few or no draws, your betting opponent is representing a made hand. If your hand is better than his, you can wait until the river to raise. In Phil’s hand, the flop of Kspade 4diamond 4heart seemed ideal for Jennifer’s purpose. There was no chance that Phil was on a draw. If the flop has several draws and your opponent bets his draws, raise on the turn. He will always call because of the draw, while he may decide to surrender on the river if you keep on calling and he does not get there. Only if your opponent will bet his busted draws all the time can you wait until the river to raise.
Raising the turn or river --The hands you believe the opponent holds
Reading opponents and hands is a subject beyond the scope of this column. Be aware that if you are going to wait until the river to raise, you must believe that you have a good understanding of your opponent’s tendencies and his likely holdings on this particular hand. The harder you find it to read his cards or intentions, the more often you should raise on the turn.
Raising the turn or river --What sort of scare cards can fall on the river
This is perhaps the most important consideration, and I left it for last so that we can examine it in more detail. There are two kinds of scare cards that can come: those that scare the opponent into checking and those that scare you into just calling.
On boards with several draws, raise the turn or river?
raise on the turn even if you are sure your opponent has a made hand instead of a draw. The problem is that if a draw gets there, it may scare your opponent into checking, and cost you a bet even if that card did not improve either hand. If you were on a draw and made it on the turn, you also should probably raise. Again, the problem is that another card relevant to the draw may be irrelevant to you but may scare off your opponent. For example, I have seen a number of players make the nut flush on the turn (let’s say they hold the Adiamond 5diamond, the flop is Kdiamond 6club 3diamond, and the turn is the 9) but flat-call a turn bet, intending to raise on the river. This works well when a blank hits, but if a fourth diamond comes, their opponent will check and possibly not even call. So, they congratulate themselves on a clever play when no suited card comes, but miss bets when it does. In the long run, they are better off just raising on the turn.
Raising on the turn or river- cards that can scare you into just calling
Sometimes a card can hit on the river that can scare you because you were possibly drawn out on. In fact, this possibility is one of the key reasons to wait until the river to raise if all of the other signs align. Ex-Looking at Jennifer’s hand again, she probably put Phil on a big king for his preflop raise, call of the reraise, and raise on the flop. She was certain that Phil would bet his top pair/excellent kicker throughout. The board had no draws, and no real scare card could come (except perhaps an unlikely ace) that would keep Phil from betting on the river. However, if a king hit on the river and Jennifer had not raised on the turn, she simply could check and call and see if her read was correct and Phil had outdrawn her. She would save a bet if a card came that was not to her liking, while still making her raise every time a blank hit.
A player raises from middle position and you three-bet with A-K. Everyone else folds. The flop comes A-6-3, he checks, you bet, and he check-raises. You flat-call, and the turn is a deuce, he bets
The turn is a deuce, almost certainly no help to your opponent. He bets
I was in the big blind with the Aheart 4club. After three players folded, TBP exhibited his look-around tell and then raised. I took that to mean he had a mediocre raising hand, perhaps a medium pair or a hand like K-J offsuit. He was another stranger, but he was young and seemed to have been fairly active in the previous hour. I had designated him in my mind as an "action player (AP)," a guy who wanted to participate in several pots. He was fairly aggressive, so Everyone else folded to the button, who called. The small blind folded, and I had to decide whether to call. Normally, that decision is easy. I strongly dislike playing ace-rag. I dislike it even more when I have to call a raise, and I truly hate it when I have to call a raise from out of position. I almost always muck this hand without a second thought after a raise and a cold-call. I thought he would three-bet with a big pair or big ace. In fact, he might even have been the type of action player who reraised with any pair in that spot. This time was different, however, as my reads convinced me that I likely had the best hand. I called the raise.The flop came Aspade 6club 3spade, so I had top pair and a terrible kicker. If I was right, though, I had the only pair of aces at the table. I don't always check to the raiser in this spot, but in this case, I wanted TBP to bet so that I could trap AP for an extra bet if he called. So, I checked, and TBP dutifully bet, which he almost certainly would do with any hand. Now, however, AP raised!
What was happening? I came up with four possibilities: • He had a medium pair and raised to eliminate me and find out from subsequent action whether his hand was good. • He held an ace. • He had a flush draw. • He had 6-6 or 3-3 and had flopped a set. None of these possibilities made a lot of sense to me. If he had one of the first two holdings, he most likely would have reraised before the flop, being an action player. If he flopped a set, he probably would wait for the turn to put his raise in, and he still might have three-bet preflop with that holding. If he had the flush draw, he might be better off calling and letting me in to help pay for his draw. The flush draw seemed to be the most likely, though, so I three-bet from the blind. TBP folded, so that took care of that concern. AP called. The turn was a disappointing 10spade, completing the flush draw if he had one. In fact, I was rapidly running out of hands I could beat. If my flush-draw assumption was correct, he just drew out on me. If he didn't, I was wrong earlier, and he was ahead all the time. In either event, it was bye-bye Barry. I checked, he bet, and I folded.
After two limpers, you call the blind with the K Q. The button calls, as does the small blind. On the flop of K 6 2, you bet after everyone checks. The button and the big blind call. The turn is the 9. You bet and only the button calls. The river is the A. Should you check or bet?
Certainly, you cannot be pleased to see that ace. If your opponent has one, you will lose the pot. Could he have an ace? Sure, he easily could have A-X of clubs and have just gotten lucky. If you check and he has an ace, he will always bet, you will call, and you will lose one more bet. If you check and he has a king, he will probably check and you will win the pot. If he has most anything else, he will also check and you will win, although he might occasionally bluff. If you bet and he has an ace, he will call and you will lose the same bet. He would raise if he has a hand like the A 6, but that holding is a remote possibility. If he has a king, though, he will still call, and now you will win a bet. But what if he has a hand like the 7 6? He called on the flop, hoping you were betting a flush draw. Now, with six and a half big bets in the pot, he has to call one more to see if you were bluffing. He will convince himself to make this call fairly frequently. If he has pocket tens, he will not like it, but he will call once in a while. And if he has a busted flush draw, he will fold and you will not have to show your hand, adding a tiny bit of mystery to your play. All in all, if you bet in situations like this, you will lose the bet every time you are beat, but you also would probably lose that bet if you check, planning to call. You gain a bet every time your opponent calls, which he would not do if you checked. Remember, people invent the most amazing reasons to call with losing hands. This single change to your game will net you many extra bets.
81- You hold the A K. The player on your right is a cautious professional who plays well without huge amounts of imagination. He thinks you are a tough professional who is hard to read. He raises before the flop, you three-bet, and he calls after everyone else folds. On the flop of Q 7 4, he checks, you bet, and he calls. He bets out when he sees the A hit the turn. You raise, and he calls. On the river, the 7 does not help you. He checks. What hand(s) could he hold and how should you continue?
OK, time's up. I hope you said he has A-K, as that is certainly his most likely holding. He raised before the flop and almost certainly has a big pair or a big ace. With a pair smaller than queens, he might check-call the flop, but his turn play makes no sense. With A-J, he should not have called the flop, and should not have called the raise. With A-Q, he would have done more raising either on the flop or on the turn. With A-A or K-K, he probably would have reraised preflop or put more action in on the flop. Certainly, with A-A, he would be three-betting the turn. With K-K, even if he called the flop and bet the turn (unlikely), he would have folded for the raise. So, he has A-K, or else he has suddenly morphed into a much trickier player than you thought.
82- And what should you do on the river?
Even though I love betting the river, I think this is an easy check. He almost certainly has A-K and you are chopping once you missed your spade freeroll. If your read is wrong, it is far more likely that you are somehow beat than you would win an extra bet. So, check and chop gets my vote.
91-The hand: Playing in a $30-$60 hold'em game, the player, let's call him Josh, was in the cutoff seat with the K J. Everyone folded to the player on his right, who limped in. Now Josh had to think about what to do
My opponent on the right limped in, and I am in late position. I clearly have too much of a hand to fold, so I must decide between calling and raising. The button and blinds are pretty tight, so if I raise, I have a good chance of getting heads up with the limper. I'm not sure whether I have the best hand or not, but raising will give me control of the hand and force him to make a hand to stay in. (For example, if he has A-9, he has the best hand, but will check and fold on most flops.) Plus, if I can get the blinds to fold, the dead money will add up to long-term profit for both of us. And finally, I may be able to force out the button and act last throughout the hand, which would give me a greater edge. Of course, raising may backfire in many ways. Perhaps the button or the blinds have great hands, or the limper could make something and beat me. But if I allow the blinds to play for free, I will have no idea what they have and won't know how to react to them. All indications are to raise, and that's what I should do.
92-Josh called. After Josh's call, the button folded, the small blind completed the bet to $30, and the big blind (a professional player) checked. The flop came A J 10. The small blind checked, and the big blind bet. The limper folded, and it was back to Josh
• (S) The big blind is leading out into a crowd on a suited, connected, Broadway board that probably has hit at least one of us, and maybe more. This is not a flop he would think he could bluff into, so he must have a good hand, or a very good draw. He might have the nut straight, an ace of some kind, a hand like mine, or a big draw. But he is a professional player, so he is not betting out just because he has a hand. He would know the first limper, who entered the pot voluntarily, is more likely to have a piece of the flop than the small blind is, who simply threw in one chip. Therefore, he typically would like to check-raise to put pressure on the first limper, which he would do with a mediocre hand like A-rag. [Note: Many players like to check-raise with very good hands, but most pros use the check-raise on the flop as a means of thinning the field when they have a decent but vulnerable hand. With an excellent hand, most times they encourage action.] But he is betting out, and therefore does not have a mediocre hand. He most likely has either a hand worth three-betting or a very big draw. I can find out a lot by raising. If he is on a draw, I have the best hand and can gain by putting in more money. If he three-bets, I know I am well behind and can play my hand as drawing and not as the best hand. In addition, I can increase the stake for the small blind, so that he does not call with a hand like Q-rag, hoping to hit a gutshot and beat my two pair if a king comes. Certainly, a call is possible, but a raise has lots of advantages.
93-Josh called. The small blind folded, and the turn was the 4, putting a possible flush on the board. The big blind bet.
• (S) I wish I had raised so that I would have a better feel for where I am. One of the primary draws got there, so my opponent might have made his hand if he was drawing. If I had raised, he would now be forced to bet out with the flush, giving me useful information, or check and risk missing a bet. This aggressive professional would never check here because he was afraid of a flush, so I have learned nothing and might be drawing dead. On the other hand, he still might have two pair, in which case I have flush and straight outs of my own, or he might have flopped a straight, in which case I have flush outs. I can raise to represent a made flush and still have outs if he calls, but that is unlikely to work if my original read was correct that he does not have the sort of mediocre hand I might get him to lay down. Unfortunately, I am forced to call here and await the river.
94-So, Josh called, and the river was the Q, making the full board: A J 10 4 Q. The big blind bet again, and Josh had to decide what to do
• (S) OK, I made a straight, but what is going on here? This is a very scary board, and everyone in the room can see the possible straight. What is the professional player doing betting into me on a board like this? Why isn't he worried about the one-card straight? In all likelihood, he has the same hand himself, or he made the flush on the turn. Of course, it is possible he is betting a hand like A-J, hoping to get a crying call from me if I have a hand like J-10. But in this case, he will recognize my raise for what it is, and simply fold. I can't see any way that I can make any money by raising here against a pro, and I sure can think of ways to lose money. I call.
Let's start with a one-question quiz. You hold the K Q. After three limpers, you choose to limp in from the cutoff seat. The button raises, and all the limpers call, as does the big blind. On the flop of J 10 6, the big blind and first two limpers check, but the other limper bets. You decide to call, as does everyone else. The turn is the A, giving you the nut straight. Again, the first three players check, and the player to your right bets.
d. Raise because you want to charge possible draws the maximum or get them to fold?
You hold the A J and raise before the flop, with only the big blind calling. He bets on the flop of K 7 4, and you choose to call. He also bets when the 2 hits on the turn, giving you the nut flush.
Many players call in this spot, not wanting to alert the opponent to the flush, but the reasons for raising are compelling. First, a fourth diamond might come on the river, frightening your opponent into checking and folding. Second, he might think you are bluffing (as you sometimes will be), or have a big hand himself and call or perhaps even reraise. He might believe you and be forced to fold a hand like two pair that could possibly river you. He might have a hand like the K Q and think the Q is an out if a diamond comes. And he just might be the type of player who never folds on a street once he has put money in the pot. Acting aggressively is also important when you make your hand and are out of position. If you are first to act, you typically should bet rather than try for a check-raise opportunity that may never come. Frequently, your opponent will reason that if you really made the hand you are representing, you would go for the check-raise, and he will call or even raise you. If you do check-raise, he might choose to fold
100-I posted the big blind and was dealt the Kclubs Jclubs. From the small blind, an aggressive, active, and very tricky player raised after everyone had folded. From previous play, this meant he had something better than pure trash, but the range of possible hands was still very large. I reraised with my excellent heads-up hand and position.The flop came Kdiamonds 3hearts 3spades, and he checked.
Of course, I might have been behind if he had A-A, K-K, A-K, or K-Q (or something with a 3), but I thought I was probably far ahead. In fact, if I bet, I should win the pot immediately most of the time. While I like winning pots as much as the next guy, I also thought that if I checked, he would probably bet any hand he held, trying to bluff me out. So, I checked to give him a chance to bluff off some money to me.
101-The turn was the 10hearts, making all sorts of draws possible. Sure enough, he bet, and I had to determine whether to raise or just call.
I decided there were three possibilities: • He had the best hand • He had picked up a draw • He was flat-out bluffing
102-The river was a good news-bad news Jhearts, making the board Kspades 3hearts 3diamonds 10hearts Jhearts. I had two pair, but all sorts of straight and flush draws had helped. Again, he bet, and I called. He turned over the Qdiamonds 9diamonds for the straight and took the pot. How should I have felt? Obviously, I had lost a pot that I easily could have won just by betting the flop. I had lured my opponent into betting and eventually making the best hand. So, did I make a significant error? Let's look at the math Before we discuss the general case, let's look at the specific situation in which my opponent holds the Qdiamonds 9diamonds.
He almost certainly would have folded if I had bet on the flop, so I always would win the three big bets in the pot. Assuming we played this situation 15 times (for reasons that will be clear soon), I would be +45 big bets by betting the flop. After I checked and the 10hearts came, my opponent bet. Notice that he put a full big bet into a pot that contained only three bets when the odds against making his hand were just under 14-1. He needed a jack to beat me, and I had one, so there were three left in the deck out of 44 unknown cards. Thus, he was a
111-$80-$160 game. You are in the cutoff seat with the Kclubs Qclubs, after everyone folds in front of you, you raise. The button folds, and the small blind reraises. This knocks out the big blind, so the two of you will be heads up. The small blind is a tough player, and you should take a moment to decide what sort of hand he can have here.
Because you raised from late position, he does not have to give you credit for a premium hand, so his raise was made with a wider range of possible hands than if you had raised from early position. Also, because he is in the small blind, his raise has a chance to knock out the big blind, which is another reason he might have a less than premium hand. Of course, he also would raise with excellent hands, as well.
112-You elect to call the raise, since folding is out of the question, but your hand could easily be second best to any ace or any pocket pair. The flop provides some help for you: Khearts 8diamonds 3spades. Your opponent bets out. What should you do now?
113-After you call his flop bet, the turn is the 6clubs, and your opponent now checks. Again, take a moment and decide what you would do.
Many people would bet here, since they would not want to give a free card that might beat them even if the opponent has only a couple of outs. Analyzing the turn play: Because he is a good player, he realizes that you have some sort of hand yourself. If you had nothing, you would have folded on the flop. Therefore, if he is way ahead, this would be a terrific time for him to check-raise. So, if he is ahead, you certainly want to check, not bet. But what if you are ahead? Almost certainly, a bet by you will win the pot, while a check will risk losing it. Interestingly, though, there is another factor to consider. If you check here, how will your opponent act on the river? By creating doubt in his mind about your hand here, you may very well get him to call you on the river (or even bluff the river if he does not improve). For example, if he has pocket jacks, he probably would fold here if you bet, not wanting to call both the turn and the river. If you check the turn, you will lose when he hits his two-outer, but might gain a bet when he does not.
So, on this hand, if he is way ahead, you certainly want to check, and if he is way behind, you also want to check! Clearly, you cannot do all of this math and figuring at the table after he checks, but by studying and recognizing this repeating theme, you should be able to make the correct play based on your general knowledge. The river becomes very easy after that. You want to play for a one-bet scenario. If he bets, you call
if he checks, you bet. This type of "Way Ahead or Way Behind" situation gets resolved in this manner.
121-In a recent Bellagio $30-$60 game, I got a free play in the big blind while holding the Kspades 7clubs. Four players had limped in, and the small blind had called, so we were looking at six small bets. The flop came Kclubs 10diamonds 3spades, and the small blind checked.
This is not the sort of situation I like to get involved with. I had a hand that I would have never played had it not been in the blind. I was out of position. My kicker was weak. The pot was small. If I bet and got any action, there was a good chance I was beat. Generally, I check and fold in this kind of situation, and I decided to do so here.
122-Somewhat surprisingly, it was checked around.
The presence of the 10 made it very unlikely that anyone else held a king, because it would have been too dangerous to give a free card to the various draws that are frequently present when two Broadway cards are on the flop. It was even unlikely, for much the same reason, that any of the last players to act had as much as a 10, since they probably should bet that. It was starting to look like my weak free hand was good.
123-The turn brought the 2diamonds and the small blind checked.
I had definite reason to believe I had the best hand here. In addition, since a lot of players will bluff at a pot from the blind after everyone has checked the flop, there was a good chance I might get action from a suspicious second-best hand. I bet out, fully expecting to get either zero or one caller. After all, the pot was small, my bet was one-third of the pot, and nobody had shown any strength on the somewhat dangerous flop.
124-Unexpectedly, an action-fest broke out. The bearded guy on my left called, the college kid to his left called, and, after a fold, the guy wearing a purple shirt raised! What was going on here? The small blind folded, and it was up to me again.
I did not mind the calls so much, but the raise really made me pause for thought. There was some chance that purple shirt had just made a set of deuces, or that he had been (incorrectly) slow-playing some form of large hand on the flop. If that was the case, I was in deep trouble, and possibly drawing dead. It occurred to me then that I was looking at a classical raise or fold situation. There was a bet to me (a raise, but still a single new bet to deal with), there were no intervening players, there were players to act behind me, and they were almost certainly drawing to beat me. If I decided that I likely had the best hand, I needed to protect it. If I was in trouble, I should get way from the hand now.
125-I decided that purple shirt was unpredictable enough for me to play my hand as the best one at this point, but subject to change later if the action dictated. That being the case, though, I had to raise. So, indeed, I three-bet, not really knowing what to expect. The bearded guy called two more big bets, the college kid folded, and purple shirt just called. That was a relief. If he had raised again, I might have had to release my hand even though the pot had grown quite large. The river card was the 3clubs. This seemed safe in terms of draws, anyway. But I had to decide whether to bet.
It seemed clear that the bearded guy was on a draw and had missed. That left unpredictable purple shirt. I certainly did not want to face a raise, since I still had a suspect hand, in sprite of my bravado in three-betting the previous street. Plus, a check by me could possibly induce a bluff. I determined I had more to gain by checking than by betting, so I checked - and so did everyone else. I showed down my king-rag and it was good. The bearded guy showed me the Qdiamonds 9diamonds, so he had a flush draw with a gutshot-straight draw, as well. Purple shirt just mucked and slumped a bit more.
131-In a recent session of a $30-$60 hold'em game, I held pocket queens in the big blind. After three players called the blind and the small blind just called
I checked. This play gave me an easy laydown if an ace or king flopped, and provided me a lot of strategic scope (as well as some deception) if I flopped a set or an overpair.
132-We saw a flop of 9hearts 7clubs 4diamonds. The small blind checked, and I bet out. I was called in two places, one player folded, and the small blind check-raised.
She was a solid player, but there was no clear meaning to her action. She could have my queens beat, a hand like A-9, or a straight draw, wanting to build a large multiway pot. I three-bet to try to get rid of the other players, and was successful.
133- The small blind called, and we were heads up. The turn was the 8hearts. She checked, and I bet. She check-raised again!
What should I have done? I had shown considerable strength in leading into a large field and three-betting a check-raise. I was the big blind and easily could have had an overpair, two pair, or even a set. But in spite of that, here she was trapping me by check-raising. Given that she was a very solid player, in my experience against her, my play was easy. I tossed the queens into the muck and waited for a better chance. Sure, I was sad about giving up the pot, and about losing with queens, but it was obvious I was beat, and probably had few, if any, outs.
141-Here is a $20-$40 hand that was played by one of my students (we will call him "Ron"). He held the Aspades 4spades and called before the flop from late position. There were two other callers, and the blinds played, as well. Ron liked the flop of 9hearts 8spades 3spades. The blinds checked, a middle-position player bet, and Ron
called to keep a reasonable number of players in the hand.
142-The big blind check-raised, and just the bettor and Ron called. The turn was the 9spades, making Ron's flush but pairing the board. Both players checked to Ron who bet. Now, the big blind check-raised and the other person folded. What was going on?
The big blind had check-raised the flop, and then checked when the board paired and a flush card hit. In spite of the very scary board, this player had check-raised again. Could he have made, say, three nines and check-raised, thinking it was good? That was unlikely, because he would have been worried about giving a free card to someone with a single spade. Could he have made a flush? If so, why would he check when the board paired? It was more likely he would bet, hoping to get action from someone who had made trips while not giving a free card to players with two pair. No, the check-raise here showed a total lack of concern for offering free cards. The only conclusion was that this player had already filled up, and was trying to get extra money from anyone who had made a flush (or might make one on the river). Ron understood all of this, but still fell from grace and reluctantly called the turn and the river, so he got to see the full house that he was almost certain he was up against.
143-Perhaps you are thinking the check-raise worked here - and it did, to some extent. Ron paid three big bets to see the river. But consider what would have happened if the big blind had just bet out when the 9spades came?
Certainly, Ron would have raised with the nut flush, not expecting that the big blind had a full house. The big blind then could have three-bet at that point, or even check-raised on the river. Given that Ron was inclined to pay off the bets, this would have made four big bets for the big blind instead of the three he got by check-raising.
Here is a hand played in an $80-$160 game. In this case, a player in late position raised as the first player in, and only the big blind (let's name him "Jesse") called. Jesse held the Adiamonds 2diamonds, and considered the flop of 4spades 3diamonds 3clubs. He checked and called when the preflop raiser bet, believing that the ace and 5 were possible outs, and there was a reasonable chance that ace high was good at this point. In addition, this particular opponent might check the hand down if he could not beat ace high, increasing the number of reasons for the call. The turn brought the 5hearts, making the wheel for Jesse. How should he have played the hand?
I know many people would try for a check-raise here, hoping to pick up the extra bet. They would think, "I have made a surprise hand, and what one does with surprise hands is check-raise." Let's consider the options, though. If Jesse checked, his opponent might have checked with a hand as good as A-Q. If Jesse bet, however, an opponent holding A-Q would probably call with his gutshot-straight draw and two overcards. In fact, the opponent might have thought the A-Q was the best hand (perhaps he would think Jesse might have been semibluffing with a hand like K-6). Of course, we know that a player with A-Q would be drawing nearly dead to Jesse's actual holding, so Jesse would pick up a bet he might never get if he simply checked on the turn.
Playing limit hold'em, you have finally flopped something good and bet it out, and someone has raised you. Of course, you want to punish him, take more of his money, and establish your proper place as Hero of Poker, but how best do you do it? Should you three-bet him now or wait until the limits go up and check-raise him on the turn? Consider how many opponents are there?
The more opponents there are still in the hand, the more likely you should be to three-bet on the flop. Many opponents stay in, or try to, with long-shot draws on the flop that they will give up on the turn. Collecting extra bets from them is typically worth more on the flop while they are still in to stand the raises. Even better, if they have called only one bet so far, a reraise by you might get some of them to fold a hand that might draw out on you, potentially saving you the whole pot. Conversely, if you are heads up, the extra money can come only from collecting an additional large bet instead of an additional small one. While this difference should not dominate your thinking as much as the considerations below, it is extra money. If you can go for it, you should.
You get a free play in the big blind with the Qdiamonds 4clubs and see a flop of Qspades 8hearts 4diamonds. You bet out and are raised, which narrows the field down to the two of you. I would classify this hand as vulnerable, but you have to decide what the bad cards are.
Clearly, an 8 is terrible. It counterfeits your two pair, leaving you with queens and eights. What else might be bad for you? Typical middle-limit opponents in this situation would have raised with A-Q, called with K-Q and Q-J, and possibly folded with Q-10 or worse. This makes a king or a jack a likely dangerous card for you in addition to the 8. It might be right in this case to call on the flop, planning to check-raise if a danger card does not come, and check-call or even fold if a bad card for you does fall. On the other hand, if you got the free play in the blind with Q-8 and bet out, I think you should three-bet right now. Trying for a check-raise also might work, but there are still chances that your opponent will check behind you (for reasons we will discuss). In addition, there is some chance that your opponent will want to get into a betting war on the flop, which he rarely will want to do on the turn unless he has you beat.
In the big blind, you call a raise from a tight opponent with the 8hearts 7hearts. The flop comes 8diamonds 7clubs 2spades. You bet out and get raised, almost guaranteeing that this particular opponent has a big pair.
There is probably nothing that can come on the turn that will deter this opponent from betting out, and you would be correct to wait and check-raise. Waiting becomes even more profitable when you consider that another deuce will counterfeit your hand and save you money if it does show up.
In the big blind, you call a raise from a tight opponent with the 8hearts 7hearts. Suppose the flop were 8diamonds 7clubs 6hearts. You bet out and get raised.
You still have top two pair, and there is almost no chance that this particular opponent has any kind of straight draw. Now, however, if a 5 or 9 comes, your opponent will be too scared to bet, so you will not get a chance to check-raise. In this case, then, you have to three-bet now or risk having your opponent shut down and give you no more action if the wrong turn card hits.
Playing limit hold'em, you have finally flopped something good and bet it out, and someone has raised you. Of course, you want to punish him, take more of his money, and establish your proper place as Hero of Poker, but how best do you do it? Should you three-bet him now or wait until the limits go up and check-raise him on the turn? Considering who is the raiser?
As always, it helps to know who your opponent is and how he plays. Some players never make a free-card raise, so you need not consider that. Some players are so aggressive that they will bet the turn every time if they raised the flop, regardless of what comes or why they raised in the first place. This behavior is especially common in shorthanded games. Against such players, you almost always should wait for the turn and check-raise. Conversely, some opponents are very tricky and raise with all sorts of hands, hoping you will fold now, or they will get to see the river, and perhaps even call it, for one more big bet. Against these opponents, you must get your raise in now and take the lead.
Playing limit hold'em, you have finally flopped something good and bet it out, and someone has raised you. Of course, you want to punish him, take more of his money, and establish your proper place as Hero of Poker, but how best do you do it? Should you three-bet him now or wait until the limits go up and check-raise him on the turn? Consider what is your image?
Opponents take advantage of many timid, passive players by raising them frequently. Typically, these timid players go into check-and-call mode, unwilling to lay a hand down, but unwilling to take any further aggressive action without a near-nut holding. If you are one of these timid players, or if you think you might be perceived as such, play back on the flop frequently. Do not wait for the turn. Your long-term success requires you to be seen as a force to be reckoned with. Going into a protective shell whenever you get raised invites more and more players to raise you with impunity. After all, if you do not reraise occasionally, the raiser will figure that, at best, you will fold, or, at worst, you will check on the next street. You will encourage opponents to raise you, which is exactly the wrong thing to do. When you can, then, you should three-bet on the flop with a good hand so that people will not be able to run over you. Waiting for the turn, even when it works and you get to check-raise, will still not be seen as being as powerful as reraising now.
151-that makes poker a terrific game is that the presence of one new player in an otherwise regular lineup can change everything about the game. In this case, the player is a frequent bluffer (FB). Usually, when an FB sits down, he wins a few pots before the players at the table work out what kind of game he plays. Once they understand that he's a bluffer, the most common adjustment they make is to call him down much more often. That's fine as far as it goes, but there are other much more radical adjustments that they can and perhaps should make. This FB's primary characteristic is that he will virtually always bluff on the turn if nobody bets the flop. This tendency can be exploited in a number of ways, and in this hand, the players involved (Neil and I) tried to take full advantage of it.
player description
152-I am in middle position with the Au 4u. FB is the big blind. Neil is in early position and just calls the blind. Everyone else folds to me.
Now, normally with this hand I might raise to isolate the limper, possibly drive out a better ace, and try to get heads up. However, I do not want to isolate Neil, because he is an excellent player (I make money isolating poor players, not experts). In addition, I do not want to raise FB out of the pot, because I may be able to use his turn-bluff tendency. I also do not want to fold, even though this is a marginal hand, for similar reasons. I want to be in pots with FB, as he is willing to take far the worst of it quite often. Call.
153-So, I call, and we also get the small blind (SB) calling. The flop is Aspades 4hearts 2hearts. Great, I have flopped two pair, and everyone checks to me.
Under most circumstances, this is an automatic bet. Not only do I have the best hand, but there is also a two-flush and possible gutshot straight on the board. A free card is dangerous, and I should not want to give one. As I am last to act, my bet might not even be read as my having a particularly good hand, and I might get extra action. I am influenced by two other factors, however. First, if I check, FB will surely bet the turn and give me the chance to raise. Second, Neil did not bet. Since he knows that FB will bet the turn, he will probably bet with any flush draw on the flop to keep FB from betting through him. FB does not have a flush draw or he would have bet the flop (since he enjoys betting so much). So, the free card in this situation is not as dangerous as it might be in any other, given that at least two of my three opponents almost certainly do not have a four-flush. I decide to check.
155-Now, let's get back to Neil. In this hand, he had the Aclubs 8clubs.
(No, I am not clairvoyant - not that I will admit, anyway. Neil and I discussed this hand later
Key elements that need to be present in order to make a free showdown play.
1)You will have to invest two bets by calling the turn and river anyway (your hand is strong enough/ pot big enough you cant fold for one bet on the turn or river)
2)You can safely fold if reraised.(or, with a strong draw-on the river for another bet if you don’t improve.) This means if your opponent is consistently aggressive and tricky you should just call turn and river. 3)You are unlikely to get re-raised.—If there is anything more than a small chance off getting 3-bet, because folding the turn forfeits your opportunity of catching a miracle card and of showing down your hand.
4)Your opponent is not prone to donk-betting. 5)There is a recognizable benefit to raising the turn. Example-getting bets out of third party opponents, you wont be able to get extra bets on the river if you hit b/c some of your outs are scare cards, or give the bettor a chance to fold a better hand.
You are playing in a game with opponents who in general appear to be competent but rather passive. Much of the time when players show strength, the opposition simply backs off. A middle-position player limps in and everyone folds around to the small blind, who also calls. You are in the big blind with the Kclub 5diamond and check. There are three players in the pot and three small bets. The flop comes down Kheart 7diamond 2spade and the small blind checks. Your first instinct should now be that this is a very decent flop for you, and that you should bet your hand. However, you notice that this is a tiny pot and your hand is actually rather strong. There is a saying in chess that when you see a good move, you should stop and look for a better one. Is there a better move here? Is this a good moment to check and slow-play the hand? Pros/cons?
In fact, the arguments in favor of slow-playing here are rather persuasive: 1. The pot is tiny - just three small bets. 2. The flop is completely uncoordinated, so your opponents are most unlikely to stumble into straights and/or flushes. 3. You are vulnerable to only one overcard. 4. If you bet now, it is probable that everybody will fold. However, if you check, an opponent with a hand such as 9-8 may make a pair on the turn or pick up a straight draw. He will not get the right price to pursue this draw, so you will benefit from bets that go into the pot on the turn, regardless of the actual outcome of the hand.
There is an argument against slow-playing. If an opponent happens to have a lower pair - say, 9-7 - you are giving him a free shot to outdraw you. However, this is not that big a deal. Firstly, if the middle-position player has this hand, he almost certainly will bet after you check, and this will enable you to get in a favorable check-raise. Secondly, if the small blind has this hand, he probably would have bet out on the flop. However, if the small blind does have such a holding and checked the flop, and you now bet, he will (at the very least) call, so betting cannot protect your hand. If you are going to get outdrawn in this hand, it will happen whether you slow-play or not. However, by slow-playing, you possibly create chances to win extra bets on the many occasions that you have the best hand and it stands up.
our hero is in the big blind, and a tight, aggressive player open-raises from under the gun. This player plays by the book and will have a very decent hand for this raise. The next eight players fold and our hero is looking at the 5 5 and decides to call. Folding is probably preferable, as the hand is difficult to play post-flop, but never mind - he calls. The flop is a rare pretty sight: 8 5 2 Barring some horrible accident, our hero is now certain to win, and the only question is how to extract the most money from his unfortunate victim. What happens if we check-raise the flop?
First, let's give the other player his big pair. Now he will think he is winning, as the check-raise represents a low pair or maybe a draw. He may well three-bet or possibly just call with the intention of raising on the turn. If he does three-bet, you can cap it and then lead out on the turn. Even if he then goes into check-call mode, you will end up with eight small bets. If he plays more aggressively (raising on the turn), you will end up winning a whole load more. So, what if he has just big cards? He is certainly not going to fold after you check-raise, and he may even three-bet, suspecting that you are on a draw or low pair and wanting to create the possibility of a free card. Aggressive players will often make this play, and against a player who is pushing a small pair or a draw and is likely to back down here, it is a good play. Now you have already gotten three small bets out of him, and there is still a lot of play left in the hand. Even if he just calls on the flop after your check-raise, he may well look you up if the turn card is not scary. So, it appears that by check-raising the flop, you can probably pick up eight small bets when your opponent has a big pair and an absolute minimum of three small bets (and very likely more) when he has high cards.
44 Answer from 1 continued
6. RockSolid is weak-tight. Our hero is strongly representing a big pair, and he may fold a medium pair. He likes to make these "tough folds" no doubt thinking he is playing good, solid poker by not paying off a big overpair. 7. Holding A-J - rather than A-K or A-Q - is actually very helpful for our hero, because if a king or queen appears on the turn, it will be a good scare card. If BigLeak folds and RockSolid calls, and a king comes on the turn, RockSolid is likely to abandon a medium pair. He will find it hard to believe that our hero has given all of this action without a big overpair or, at the very least, A-K - which is now beating him.
$210 in the pot. It is $40 to bet. You bet and RagingBull calls. On the river, the board reads A 10 9 6 J. You bet and RagingBull now raises
It is not that likely that RagingBull is launching a hopeless bluff, so the jack probably helped him in some way. The possible hands that have been seriously helped by the jack are as follows: A-J, J-10, J-9, J-J, and K-Q. Note that the improbable 8-7 would have completed a straight on the turn, and Q-8 is a nonsensical holding based on the play to date. (A) A-J, and we are losing. It's possible, but not very likely. Holding position over us, he probably would have capped it on the flop and may even have raised on the turn (possibly angling for a free showdown) with such a strong hand. (B) J-10 and J-9, and we are winning. These are very likely. RagingBull would play these hands aggressively preflop, and raising your flop bet with middle pair and backdoor-straight possibilities (while trying to create the possibility of taking a free card on the turn) would be very much in keeping with his style. (C) J-J, and we are losing. This is certainly possible. This holding would be quite logical, bearing in mind RagingBull's conduct in the hand. (D) K-Q, and we are losing. This is highly improbable. This hand had only a gutshot possibility and would have required RagingBull to call the turn with nowhere near the right pot odds. Although aggressive, he is not the sort of player to do this. A minor point is that there was no two-flush on board after the turn, so even with K-Q suited, he could not have picked up a flush draw. Thus, the most likely holdings are (B) and (C). Without getting bogged down in the math, it is obvious that there are many more ways for RagingBull to hold J-10 and J-9 than J-J, so on the balance of probabilities, we are winning with our aces up and should three-bet.
75- Having played out the hand against RagingBull, we now return to TheRabbit. There was just a bet and a raise on the flop, so there is only $170 in the pot although this will have no bearing on the subsequent play. Again, after the turn, the board is A 10 9 6, and again, you bet and TheRabbit calls. On the river, the board reads A 10 9 6 J. You bet and now get raised. Bearing in mind the very different style of TheRabbit, how should you now respond?
(A) A-J, and we are losing. This is very likely. It is good enough to encourage TheRabbit to open-raise but also insufficiently powerful (from his timid point of view) to prevent him from switching into call-down mode when he gets check-raised on the flop. (B) J-10 and J-9, and we are winning. This is possible, but not very likely. The key piece of evidence here is that we know TheRabbit generally likes to limp preflop, even from late position. These are classic limping hands. In fact, TheRabbit is so passive that he might even just call on the river with these hands, being afraid (justifiably - as it turns out) of a better two pair. (C) J-J, and we are losing. This is certainly possible. This holding would be quite in keeping with TheRabbit's play to date. (D) K-Q, and we are losing. This is certainly possible. Players like TheRabbit are not great observers of pot odds, and the lousy call on the turn for the gutshot would be fairly typical of his play.
When our opponent was RagingBull, our analysis showed that (B) was the most likely holding, with (C) being a possibility. However, with TheRabbit in the cutoff seat, all four are candidate holdings, and we are winning only in scenario (B). Furthermore, because of what we know of TheRabbit's style, this is now his least likely holding. Obviously, we are not going to fold, but calling - rather than three-betting - is now the percentage play.
Let's start with a one-question quiz. You hold the K Q. After three limpers, you choose to limp in from the cutoff seat. The button raises, and all the limpers call, as does the big blind. On the flop of J 10 6, the big blind and first two limpers check, but the other limper bets. You decide to call, as does everyone else. The turn is the A, giving you the nut straight. Again, the first three players check, and the player to your right bets
d. Raise because you want to charge possible draws the maximum or get them to fold?
Let's look at the pot odds. There are 12 small bets before the flop (plus the small blind, which I will ignore in order to keep the numbers simpler) and six more on the flop. That makes nine big bets and one more for the bet on the turn. Your call, therefore, would give the next player 11-1 odds. If he has two pair, like A-J, he has four outs to beat you and will be getting the right price without considering implied odds. Your call makes it correct for him to call to try to river you. If you raise, there will be 12 bets in the pot, but he must call a double bet and will be getting only 6-1. He will either have to correctly fold, thus forfeiting his chances to river you, or incorrectly call, thus making you money in the long run. Even if he has a flush draw (4-1) and will always call, your raise will charge him more, and you will profit from this, as well. And even if he is drawing nearly dead (with A-K, say), he might decide you have two pair (or are semibluff-raising with something like a pair and flush draw) and call anyway, hoping to catch his gutshot or make a second pair himself. In reality, he has at best three outs for half the pot, but he might not realize it. Raising is clearly the best option, protecting your equity in the pot and gaining you long-term bets when you are called.
101-The turn was the 10hearts, making all sorts of draws possible. Sure enough, he bet, and I had to determine whether to raise or just call.
;I decided there were three possibilities: • He had the best hand • He had picked up a draw • He was flat-out bluffing
If he was ahead, calling would be far better than raising. If he was on a draw, I should probably raise, and if he was bluffing, I should clearly call. So, calling seemed better than raising, but there was an even more compelling reason to call. Since the board looked like many draws had developed, my opponent would probably interpret my call as meaning I had picked up a draw. If he thought that, he would probably bluff on the river with all of his pure bluffs and most of his missed semibluffs, hoping that I had missed my draw and would fold. Clearly, I was not about to fold, so I would frequently pick up an extra big bet on the river, as well as the one I had just picked up on the turn.
102-The river was a good news-bad news Jhearts, making the board Kspades 3hearts 3diamonds 10hearts Jhearts. I had two pair, but all sorts of straight and flush draws had helped. Again, he bet, and I called. He turned over the Qdiamonds 9diamonds for the straight and took the pot. How should I have felt? ? Obviously, I had lost a pot that I easily could have won just by betting the flop. I had lured my opponent into betting and eventually making the best hand. So, did I make a significant error? Let's look at the math Before we discuss the general case, let's look at the specific situation in which my opponent holds the Qdiamonds 9diamonds.
He almost certainly would have folded if I had bet on the flop, so I always would win the three big bets in the pot. Assuming we played this situation 15 times (for reasons that will be clear soon), I would be +45 big bets by betting the flop. After I checked and the 10hearts came, my opponent bet. Notice that he put a full big bet into a pot that contained only three bets when the odds against making his hand were just under 14-1. He needed a jack to beat me, and I had one, so there were three left in the deck out of 44 unknown cards. Thus, he was a
41-3 dog, which is close to 14-1. In other words, by checking the flop, I convinced him as a 14-1 dog to put a full bet into a three-bet pot. Since I know I will call, he is taking 4-1 odds on a 14-1 event. Let's see how that turns out. If we play the hand 15 times in this situation, he will win five big bets one time (I will always pay him off on the river), and lose at least one big bet 14 times. Assuming he never bluffs on the river when he misses, I win four bets 14 times (56 bets) and lose five bets once, for a net total of 51 bets, compared to the 45 I would win if I bet on the flop. My check nets six more bets over 15 hands. Moreover, if he bluffs half the times when he misses (and I expect him to bluff more than that), I win another seven big bets on top of that! That makes an additional 13 bets in all that I will win. So, by offering him the chance to overpay greatly for his draw, I earn almost a full bet on every single hand when he holds exactly what he held.
I also gain if I am behind, because I get to the showdown as cheaply as possible (given that I will not lay down a hand this good to a player this tricky, whether he raises me or not). And when I induce a pure bluff on the turn (and perhaps another on the river), I gain a bet for every bet he puts in, since he is drawing dead.
112-You elect to call the raise, since folding is out of the question, but your hand could easily be second best to any ace or any pocket pair. The flop provides some help for you: Khearts 8diamonds 3spades. Your opponent bets out. What should you do now?;
You realize that you really have no idea where you stand. If he has A-A, A-K, or K-K, you are far behind, with five, three, and zero outs, respectively. On the other hand, if he has a hand like pocket queens, jacks, or tens, he has very few outs. If he has A-Q or A-J, again, he has three outs. If his hand is somehow worse than ace high or a pair, he is drawing nearly dead. If you raise here, he will probably fold a worse hand and reraise with a better one. But, being a tough player, he might occasionally reraise with a hand you could beat as a way of testing your hand (since you might raise as a bluff yourself) or your resolve. The real key here is that if he is behind, you want to keep him in, preferably by having him bet, as he has very few ways to win, and he can have many more hands that are behind than ahead. In fact, a call by you might even convince him he should bluff on the turn with nothing at all, hoping (forlornly) you will fold. So, while raising is not a bad play, calling has many more advantages.
114-Let's look at the math in the case he had pocket jacks.
After your call on the flop, the pot holds nine small bets. If you bet now, you will win the nine bets almost all the time. Of course, if he calls with his losing hand, so much the better, but you can't count on it. If you check, one time in 23 he will hit his set and bet. You will call and lose an additional big bet. However, 22 of 23 times he will miss. In those cases, he will either bet, or check and call most of the time. You will win two extra small bets 22 times, and lose 11 small bets once in every 23 plays. Remarkably, you profit hugely in this case by checking and giving him a chance to catch up. Yes, when he does catch up, you lose a pot you might have won, but when he does not, he almost certainly loses a big bet he would not have lost otherwise. The rewards greatly outweigh the risks because: • The pot is fairly small • He rarely catches up • The number of extra calls you might get is relatively large
So, on this hand, if he is way ahead, you certainly want to check, and if he is way behind, you also want to check! Clearly, you cannot do all of this math and figuring at the table after he checks, but by studying and recognizing this repeating theme, you should be able to make the correct play based on your general knowledge. The river becomes very easy after that. You want to play for a one-bet scenario. If he bets, you call; if he checks, you bet. This type of "Way Ahead or Way Behind" situation gets resolved in this manner.
Playing limit hold'em, you have finally flopped something good and bet it out, and someone has raised you. Of course, you want to punish him, take more of his money, and establish your proper place as Hero of Poker, but how best do you do it? Should you three-bet him now or wait until the limits go up and check-raise him on the turn? Consider how vulnerable is your hand?
If you think your hand might not hold up, you might want to wait for the turn before raising to see if you still like your hand. Having the best hand now does not mean you'll win the pot. You must survive two more cards.
Playing limit hold'em, you have finally flopped something good and bet it out, and someone has raised you. Of course, you want to punish him, take more of his money, and establish your proper place as Hero of Poker, but how best do you do it? Should you three-bet him now or wait until the limits go up and check-raise him on the turn? Considering- Might your opponent want a free card?
If you are going to wait for a check-raise, you need to be fairly sure your opponent will bet. The more draws the board presents, the more likely it is that your opponent is raising for a free card, and he will not bet when you check to him. In this case, you must three-bet right now. For example, if the board on your Qdiamonds 4clubs hand were Qspades 9spades 4hearts, you should probably three-bet instead of wait to check-raise. (Some of you would prefer to call and bet out if a blank hits, but that is for another column.) There is just too much chance that if you call and check, you will give up a free card to a flush or straight draw.
Playing limit hold'em, you have finally flopped something good and bet it out, and someone has raised you. Of course, you want to punish him, take more of his money, and establish your proper place as Hero of Poker, but how best do you do it? Should you three-bet him now or wait until the limits go up and check-raise him on the turn? Considering-Can a scare card come?
Another thing that might keep your opponent from betting the turn would be a scare card. A meaningless card to both hands, but which looks like it might have hit you, could foil your check-raise plans.
154-The turn is the Ju. The SB checks and FB, naturally, bets. Somewhat to my surprise, Neil calls. I go ahead and raise, which was my plan. Now, a very surprising thing (to me) happens. After the SB folds, FB calls and Neil folds. Gee, I guess FB has something this time. And what could Neil have had to check the flop, flat-call the obvious bluff on the turn, and then fold to my raise?
? If he had anything, I would expect him to have raised the turn after FB's presumable bluff. In a few moments, we will get to Neil's hand and his logic. The river card is a 9. This looks harmless, and I bet when FB checks. He calls and I win the pot. FB shows K-J, so he really did have something on the turn. Note that the presence of FB in the game not only changed my game plan for my hand, it also changed my reads.