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What are their intentions?
In no-limit hold’em, when we and our opponents enter the flop round, the deck structure is sometimes favorable to our range and sometimes more favorable to our opponents’ range.
When the cards are clearly more favorable to our opponents’ ranges, they are eligible to bet. Conversely, if the board looks more favorable to our range, they will not bet. So, when they still choose to bet, we have to ask ourselves, what is their intention? Do they know the board is more favorable to us, but they have a value hand and therefore need to bet? Or are they bluffing because they don’t realize that the board is clearly more favorable to our range?
Let’s look at an example of a flop that is clearly more favorable to our range, and our opponent bets ahead.
A $50 buy-in no-bet derby, and everyone folds to us – holding A♦10♠ in co position. Now it’s on to the final table and we have about 30BB and are in third place in chips. The shortest yardage at this point is 25BB, so it’s not realistic to stall and wait for him to get out, and it doesn’t make sense to hold out for the next money round.
Of course, this is the final table and we should value our tournament lives. But the way things are going, there’s no obvious ICM pressure.
We made a min-raise, everyone else folded, and the big blind called. The flop round was K♦J♦4♠. The opponent checked, we persistently bet half the pool, and he called.
In this instance, it’s unlikely that we would be over-raised by a seasoned player. Looking at the structure of the hand, our range is much more likely to hit a strong hand than our opponent’s.
Many times, the big blind has two cards in his hand that fall between the 4 and the jack, and usually only has to worry about the opponents flush combo. On the other hand, our raising range has more high card combinations relative to our opponent’s resisting range.
In both ways, we are ahead of our opponent: we have more hits and he has more misses.
Texas Holdem Poker Tips – Turn
The turn card is a Q♦, and this time the opponent leads to play 3BB (about 1/3 of the pool).
The turn card makes us an A straight, plus a nut flush hear, plus the chance of a card royal flush. the Q, being a high card, is more favorable to our range for the same reason as previously stated, whether it’s a preflop raise or a bet on the flop round. On the contrary, his opponent’s range has changed due to his overcall-call on the flop round.
On a board like this, most of the time we can just collect the bottom pot with a sustaining bet. However, when the opponent chooses to call with no position, we can start to consider other scenarios.
Consider the opponent’s overcall-call action, where the likelihood of holding two ♦’s becomes greater. For example, suppose we never raise in this position with 5♦3♦, but our opponent can certainly call with such a hand; after all, a minimum raise is worth calling in the big blind with any hand. Ditto for 10♦7♦.
In other words, he has a better chance of holding a flush than we do. Meanwhile, if we hold a flush, we are more likely to hold a nut flush than our opponent. Our range is more likely to hit a pair or two, as well as some straights, while our opponent’s range is more likely to hit a pair, as well as some flushes.
Therefore, we should be cautious about choosing to raise for value, and will likely only get a stronger hand in response. When faced with such a lead, we should ask ourselves what our opponent’s intentions are. Yes, he may hold a flush, but we still have the range advantage, don’t we? Here we would choose to make a call of confidence.
Texas Holdem Poker Tips – River
The river card is a 10♥, so the final board consists of K♦J♦4♠Q♦10♥ and the opponents are all in. The pot is about 16BB, and this all-in effective chip stack is about 18BB. now, we still have the best straight, but our opponents can also notice that we probably hold the best straight. If this is obvious, why would our opponents use an all-in against us?
Let’s regroup – if our opponent is behind, he knows that we have a high probability of holding A-A, A-K, A-Q, A-J, A-T, A♦Xx, X♦X♦, and even some A-5, A-4, A-3, and A-2. He wouldn’t expect an all-in to force us to discard these strong hands, and he knows that the turn is not a good bluff card, but he does it anyway.
Against such an opponent, we should fold – we need a flush hand to call.
Unless our opponent is at a very poor level, things get fuzzy. Poor players bluff for the sake of bluffing, and in such a situation, our hand seems like the ideal catching bluff. We have the best straight and an A♦ blocker. If he is capable of bluffing, this might be a good time to catch a bluff.