Considering whether to bet or not often leads players to completely ignore the issue of bet size. One of the most important factors in the success of my students has been to be more accurate in their betting scales, especially when using unusually small or large bets. Today, let’s start with a small bet.
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Texas Holdem Poker Tips – Blocking bets on the river
Sometimes we hold a hand on the river that we can’t bet big and don’t want to call a big bet. In situations like this, the best play is often to make a very small bet of about 25-33% of the size of the pot.
Let’s look at an example. Hero calls the button player’s lead raise in the big blind, and then the flop is J♦ 8♦ 6♠. Hero checks (checks), and his opponent continually bets 1/3 of the pot – an action he might take with a variety of hands in this situation. Hero calls. The turn card was the 5♥ and both players checked. The river is the 2♣. What do we now know about our opponent’s range?
First, it is highly unlikely that he has a strong hand. It is especially necessary to bet with a hand of nuts on the turn in favorable position, as missing a street of value is a huge loss. Second, the opponent may have many cards in his range with marginal showdown value, and he turns the table to see a cheap showdown with those cards and subsequently checks.
When we hold a hand like 9♣ 8♣, we can be confident that we will win against most of the cards in his range. The other problem with checking with a hand like 9♣ 8♣ is that we will have to check-call when our opponent holds a strong hand on the river, or when he makes the turn with 99-TT or a better 8x hand for bottom control. call a bigger bet than we would like.
In such situations, a smaller stopper bet is an extremely sensible solution to these problems. By making a 33% pot size bet here, we will force our opponent to call with a weak hand because of the good pot odds, ensuring that we make some money from worse 8x cards, 6x cards, 5x cards, 2x cards, pairs less than 8, and some ace highs. We also lose a little less money to his better hands than if we check-call his bets.
Texas Holdem Poker Tips – Trapping aggressive opponents
If the opponent is the type that wants to put a lot of pressure on others and drive them out of the pot, then betting small may be a helpful way to cause him to make a big pot with a weak range. Let’s say we are playing against an overly aggressive opponent who doesn’t fold much preflop. They 3bet in the small blind with 10♦ 10♠ against his lead raise in CO. The opponent calls, and then the flop is 4♣ 4♥ 2♠. We take a short pause to think about our options. The opponent’s range is very weak, and it’s mostly air on this relatively dry flop.
If we make a big bet here, we are unlikely to get action from many of his cards. If we check, we can induce some offense, but our check looks a bit unexpected and might make some players suspicious. Our range should often be bet here, so checking may cause our opponent to be suspicious. If he is alerted and subsequently checks, he will realize too much free pot equity.
Again, a smart way to solve these problems is to bet small. I would use a betting scale of about 1/3 of the pot size in such situations. If the opponent doesn’t take the bait (folds), then we have at least protected our hand from some random high cards. If he does hook and raise, then we have made our opponent make a very bad raise.
Texas Holdem Poker Tips – Bad Cards vs Bad Cards
There are times when we hold a hand on the river that will never win the pot by checking (the bad cards), while at the same time our opponent may hold the bad cards (such as a busted listen) that is still good enough to beat our bad cards.
Suppose we call the flop and turn bets with 8♠ 6♠ from a favorable position, and the final public card is 10♠ 4♠ 2♥ 2♣ 3♣, and our opponent checks on the river. of course, part of our opponent’s range intends to catch our bluff with a check-call, but many of the cards in his range are similar to ours, and are bluffs on the flop and river circles, and now intend to fold.
The best way to force Q♠ J♠ and A♠ 7♠ to fold while ensuring that the damage is not too great when caught bluffing is to once again use our 1/3 bottom pot size bet. Such a bet only needs to work 25% of the time to be equal to the EV of a check that always loses the pot.
As a poker player, we need to think outside the box. In Texas Hold’em, you have a variety of betting sizes to choose, so you should avoid unthinkingly choosing bottom bets or half-bet bets, each of which achieves its specific goal.