Take ad­van­tage of op­po­nent give­aways

Sun Sentinel Broward Edition - Showtime - Broward - - FRONT PAGE - By Jonathan Lit­tle TRI­BUNE CON­TENT AGENCY

You can take ad­van­tage of weak, straight­for­ward play­ers who tele­graph the strength of their hands with their bet sizes, and this hand from a $1-$2 no-limit cash game is a good ex­am­ple of how to do it.

A player in mid­dle po­si­tion limped, as did the player in the cut­off seat. Our Hero raised to $12 from the but­ton with Js 10s.

I’m fine with rais­ing from the but­ton with suited con­nec­tors, but call­ing and rais­ing larger, per­haps to $16, are also rea­son­able op­tions. Call­ing keeps the pot small, of­ten am­pli­fy­ing your post­flop ad­van­tage (as­sum­ing you play well), while rais­ing larger al­lows you to fre­quently pick up pots pre­flop. A bet in the $8-$12 range will rarely win the pot pre­flop, so you of­ten have to flop well to have a good chance to win.

Only the cut­off called Hero’s raise, and two play­ers saw a flop of As Qd 8s, which gave Hero a flush draw and dou­ble-gut­shot straight draw. The cut­off bet $10 into a pot of $27.

This is where the player in the cut­off seat tele­graphed his hand. When some­one leads on a board that should be ex­cel­lent for the pre­flop raiser’s range, they usu­ally have some sort of mar­ginal made hand or junky draw. Hero’s hand made it less likely that his op­po­nent had a draw. More likely, the player in the cut­off seat had a weak ace and was bet­ting to “find out where it stands.”

If you think your op­po­nent will fold an ace to a flop raise, then rais­ing large, per­haps to $50, has a lot of merit. If you think your op­po­nent will never fold top pair, call­ing makes more sense. That said, when you have a pre­mium draw, tak­ing the ag­gres­sive route is rarely wrong, be­cause even when your op­po­nent calls, you’ll still win the pot about half the time.

Hero called. The turn was the 10c, giv­ing hero a pair. Both play­ers checked.

With his op­po­nent’s check on the turn, Hero should as­sume his mid­dle pair is not good (although it will be from time to time when he is up against a junky flush draw like 7s 6s). The real ques­tion is whether the op­po­nent will fold an ace to turn and river bets. In my ex­pe­ri­ence, he usu­ally will, as long as you bet large enough. But if you think your op­po­nent plans to call down once he checks the turn, semi-bluff­ing makes lit­tle sense.

The river was the Qd. The op­po­nent bet $15 into a pot of $47.

At this point, it was highly un­likely that Hero had the best hand, but could he fool his foe? The op­po­nent al­most cer­tainly had an ace or queen. Later on, Hero men­tioned that he’d seen his op­po­nent bet small on the river twice with mar­ginal value hands and large on the river once with the nuts. This made Hero think his op­po­nent was much more likely to have an ace than a queen. Hero raised to $60. I def­i­nitely like rais­ing the river more than call­ing. When you lose to all the mar­ginal made hands in your op­po­nent’s range, call­ing makes no sense. Hero’s only op­tion is to raise or fold. I like Hero’s bet of $60, a sub­stan­tial amount that had a rea­son­able chance to in­duce a fold if the op­po­nent didn’t have a queen.

The op­po­nent grum­bled for a minute about how lucky Hero was to catch a queen on the river be­fore fold­ing A-2 face-up.

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