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What do you do next?
If your opponent bets consistently on the flop and then checks on the turn, what do you do next?
Many players are used to betting with a good hand on the flop. Then, when the turn card is dealt, they check. always.
They choose to check because they don’t want to get raised on the turn or river.
I’ve found this habit to be very common in low stakes poker. If you play mid-stakes poker this vulnerability is not so common.
In any case, it’s worth exploring because some of the mid-stakes and high stakes tables attract a lot of players who have kept this behavior in their game plan.
Texas Holdem Poker Tips – Observations
Watching how your opponents play is the top poker tip you can follow if you want to go the distance.
In the following scenario, you are playing against several regular players and a new face (we’ll call him Player X) in an infinite derby ring poker game.
We don’t know much about Player X. So you need to keep an eye on him and try to remember his style of play inside.
As the game progresses, the following hand occurs
- Hand X holds the AT and the flop is A-8-4.
- Hand X bets on the flop circle and both players call.
- A 3 is dealt on the turn.
- Hand X checks.
- Hand X calls immediately after a bet from one of the hands.
- On the river, Player X check-calls again.
- At showdown, Player X shows an AT.
From the above description alone, it appears that Player X is a “weak” or “weak-tight” player.
But is this assumption correct?
What if this is a recurring action? What if additional observations will help you identify a pattern that will give you valuable insight into your opponent’s undercard and game style?
To explore whether this is an isolated incident, you lock on to player X and observe how he plays Texas in the same position in subsequent hands.
If this pattern of behavior continues, then it is time to deploy the right poker strategy to exploit his weaknesses and use this knowledge to your advantage.
Why does he do that?
Keep in mind the motivation for this behavior.
If he’s tight and weak, then he’s not going to flop a turn bet and check the turn simply because he gives up a bluff or thinks he’s being turned over on the turn.
He is afraid of being raised on the turn or river circle where the bet is doubled.
Therefore, he checks with the intention of calling all the way to the showdown. the situation is often that simple.
How do you combat this type of opponent?
Whenever you find yourself at a table where Player X is sitting, you should use your observations and findings to implement two important changes to your game plan.
First, you can flip forward and call with more marginal cards. In fact, you can do that on the flop when you’re sitting in the back seat and he’s sitting within two or three spots of you.
Let’s look at an example from a live tournament ring.
If you’re in back seat with 67o, you probably shouldn’t game the hand unless there’s a big multi-player floor pot possible.
However, if it’s a medium-sized bottom pot and Hand X calls preflop, you should probably call.
If you hit any listening cards on the flop, chances are this opponent will give you a free card on the turn.
This is why you can game more hearing cards against these types of opponents, even if your hearing cards are not very good.
Need another example?
Suppose there are five callers preflop, including you and this opponent, and you hold 67o.
The flop is K-8-4, the player ahead checks, and this opponent bets.
Therefore, in order to win the six small bets in the bottom pot you must call a small bet.
In addition, there may be one or two opponents calling behind you on the flop circle. But let’s say you only have 6:1 odds on the flop circle.
Should you call?
The chances of hitting a five on the turn or river circle are 1/5.
However, if you don’t hit a 5 on the turn, you may have to fold, even if you call on the flop.
Your odds of hitting a 5 on the river are 1/10, and you may not get those odds on the turn.
So if you miss the turn you don’t continue to look at the river, you actually call the flop just to see if you can hit a five on the turn.
Therefore, the only probability that matters is the probability of hitting a five on the turn.
Since your odds of hitting a five on the turn are about 1 in 10, you don’t get the right price for a flop call.
However, if you know that your opponent will check on the turn after betting on the flop, giving you a free card, you should call on the flop anyway.
The odds of hitting a five on the turn or river are about 1/5 (or 5:1 odds) and since you will see two cards at the price of a flop circle call, you can accept that 5:1 odds because you get 6:1 odds, not to mention the huge potential bottom pot odds and the possibility that some front position opponents will call behind you, improving your bottom pot odds.
There are three derby considerations for this approach
- If that particular opponent bets again on the turn, you must fold. If the opponent is inconsistent (or becomes inconsistent) in “betting on the flop without thinking and then checking on the turn”, you must fold this strategy.
- If another player at the table detects the pattern of your opponent’s behavior, as you do, and starts to mess up your plan by check-raising on the flop and betting from a disadvantageous position on the turn, you duck out of the way. Wait for the right moment. This hand can further weaken a specific opponent, leading to more free cards on subsequent hands.
- This strategy is not as effective if that opponent is in front position. If he bets on the flop and then checks on the turn, the middle-position, back-position player between you and him may bet frequently on the turn, disrupting your freeroll strategy.
You should also never bluff or semi-bluff against such opponents on the turn.
In my experience at the Deuces Club, I have earned far more chips from players who give me free cards than I have won by semi-bluffing.
This goes back to the motivation for his behavior: he has a good hand, but checks on the turn in order to avoid getting raised when his bet doubles.
Therefore, he intends to call all the way to showdown, and likely has a hand good enough to do that. Don’t bluff a caller.
When to play this way?
Finally, when you’re playing a reasonably good hand against a crazy player, you should use this flop-circle bet-and-turn-check strategy.
Let’s say the flop is A-8-6. If you bet on the turn, he may raise. In this case, you should just check-call on the turn and river circles.
By doing this, you avoid losing big bets when you are really behind and avoid having your opponent expel you from the bottom of the pot with a hand that could have won.