If you have read some of my previous articles or have checked out my training material at Seatopenpoker.net you will know that I think that the bread and butter play of any great live player is bet-folding.
When I first started playing poker seriously I remember reading somewhere that you should not bet if your hand could not stand a raise. This article was from 2003 or 2004 and I am pretty sure it was from a big named pro. Since I knew little about poker strategy back then I took this advice and checked down hands that now I would value bet in my sleep. What a bunch of rubbish that advice was. We all know that we can easily bet with what we think is the best hand versus straight forward players because they will call us with worse and raise us ONLY with better. This is why bet-folding is such an important concept.
But, what if we are playing against opponents who know that we are capable of bet-folding? Most of the time we still should do nothing. Even if these players know what we are doing and could easily exploit our thin value bets they still are not capable of raising as a bluff. The tricky spots are when you get involved with good, thinking players which are definitely a rarity at the low and mid stakes levels. In these situations sometimes you actually have to bet and be willing to call a raise. Let us take a look at an example. Say in a $5-$5 No Limit game with $1000 effective stacks we raise over one limper to $25 with A♠ A♣. The cutoff, a good, thinking player, calls us and the limper calls. The board comes out Q♠ 5♥ 2♠. It gets checked to us and we bet $55. The cutoff calls and the limper folds. We surmise that the thinking player could have a queen, a flush draw or some sort of straight draw. It is unlikely that he is totally floating us with air. The turn is the 9♣. We bet $120 and the cutoff calls again. Now the pot is $440. The river is the T♠. We feel like we can get some value from a hand like KQ and decide to bet $200. The cutoff now pushes all in for $800 total. Against straight forward opposition this would be an easy fold as our opponent has a flush here almost always. But, it is intriguing that we do have the nut spade blocker in the A♠ in our hand. The pot is $1440, $600 for us to call. We are getting a little under 2.5-1 which means we need to be good just over 1 out of 3.5 times. If we have ever seen this guy make a raise bluff before this maybe a time where you might want to bet and call as he could be turning a queen into a bluff.
The situation would be a little different if we had say A♦ Q♣ in our hand because of card removal. In that case our opponent actually is less likely to have a Q and more likely to have a flush. He also could have the nut flush as we no longer hold the stiff blocker. You really have to proceed with caution when heeding this tweet’s advice. Most players just are not capable of adapting to different situations and usually when you face a river raise people have it.