Today we’ll show an example of the real value behind betting a big hand when you have it. Too often poker players try so hard to hide the value of their big hand and end up not getting any value at all (called slowplaying). This principle stems from the idea that when you have your opponent in a place where you can take his whole stack with little risk, you must take advantage. Every round of betting missed was an opportunity to build the Pot and get it all-in.
I’m on The Button holding Ad-Jd with blinds and antes at $0/$100/$200. I have 38 big blinds in my stack, which qualifies as medium. Players 29, 57, 25, and 23 also have medium stacks (between 20-50 big blinds). Players 36, 42, and 7 all have small stacks (1-20 big blinds). To asses the situation I must tap into The Poker Model’s table awareness principles of position, stack size, previous action, and my hand These are:
- Players tend to raise with stronger hands from early position and weaker hands from late position
- Larger stacks tend to be more aggressive than smaller stacks
- The more players raising in front of you, the stronger your hand must be to join
- Players can make any move with any two cards, your hand is the most important indicator of them all
We must see what happens before our turn in order to understand which principles are relevant to the hand.
The Players in early position fold (29,57,36) and Player 25 calls from middle position. Player 42 folds and the action is on me. The first two principles don’t seem to fit with Player 25’s play because Player 25 did not raise at all. When the action comes to us on The Button, we do have one previous player in the hand and we also have a qualifying hand. Because one Player called into the hand in front of us and we have a qualifying hand, we’ll raise to $600, which is 3x Player 25’s call. Remember that we 2x the blind with no players in front of us and 3x the blind with one caller in front. This makes the Pot more expensive for the players on our left to call and creates better isolation. This will give us control of the hand and force all other players to fold, call, or go all-in.
The Players on my left fold and Player 25 calls the Pre-Flop raise. The Flop comes 3h-Jc-Ah and Player 25 checks the action to me. This is a very big flop for me because I have top Two Pair and we are looking to get all-in. Because I raised Pre-Flop and the action checked to me Post-Flop, I’m in position to make a continuation bet. Recall that most of the time we are making continuation bets with nothing in our hand because we want our opponent to fold. When we do have a big hand, like the the one here, our continuation bet will look like all of the others. This is precisely why we need to make a bet here. It will be disguised as a continuation bet, but will have the power of a big hand.
I bet $499 in hopes of inducing a raise from Player 25. This bet is ⅓ of the Pot (which is small). A small bet will encourage a raise from my opponent because it is less expensive for him to execute the raise. If I bet $1,000, a 2.5x raise is $2,500. But if I bet $500, a 2.5x raise is $1,250. Player 25 is much more likely to bluff if my bet if it’s smaller and he doesn’t have to risk as much.
Player 25 may call my bet with a Flush Draw, Gut-Shot Straight Draw, or One Pair. Player 25 may raise my bet with a Set, Two Pair, or a bluff. Player 25 may fold if he doesn’t have a hand at all, but as mentioned before, he may bluff instead. If we didn’t bet here then we’d allow another card to hit the board. This card could be a heart, 2,4,5,10, or King which fills up all Straight and Flush Draws. We’d much rather get our money in now than have to play out a longer hand where we are unsure if our opponent made a Draw.
Player 25 raises. This is exactly what we wanted. The only hand that Player 25 can have that’s beating us right now is a Set of 3s (3-3-3). The chances of flopping a set are ⅛ and if we flopped two pair during that time then it’s unlucky. We are beating ALL OTHER hands that Player 25 may have (except A-A or J-J, which can be ruled out based on the Pre-Flop call and the lowered odds because we have an ace and jack in our hand).
I raise back (called a 4-bet) and Player 25 folds. Did he have a draw? One Pair? Was it a complete bluff? We’ll never know. The major takeaway here is to bet your disguised big hand when you have it.
In today’s hand we used Poker Model Principles to come to a decision to raise from the Button with a qualifying hand. This raise isolated the action and allowed us to make a big hand on the Flop. After the action checked to us, we made what looked like a standard continuation bet. Our opponent was not buying it and decided to make a raise. Because we had such a big hand, we put our money in where out opponent folded.
Remember to always bet your hand when you have it. If nothing else, you may get an irritated player to bluff all of her chips away to you just because. There are only so many moments in poker where you can double up without a sweat, betting your big hands is the surest way to make your diamonds last forever.