Why are you betting?
With all poker decisions, itís very important to define why
youíre doing something before you do it.
I'm always flipping through the e-pages of cardchat's hand analysis section, frequently in threads made by struggling microstakes players, and one of the bigger problems I notice is that people don't actually stop to think why
they're taking a certain action. The intent of this article is to benefit those posters.
I believe the best illustration I can give is with postflop continuation betting. You should have an exact reason for why you're doing it. Why? Simply put, it makes your subsequent decisions easier, gives you a plan for the hand, makes everything more profitable, and most important of all gets your poker brain thinking properly.
There are three reasons for betting:
- For value
- As a bluff
- To collect dead money
Some might argue that betting for information
might be a reason for betting, but it is more of a result
of betting for one of the above reasons. If you're in a 3bet pot with AQ, flop a Q and cbet, you're not betting for information (or "to see where I'm at"). You're betting first and foremost to get value, and getting information is simply a consequence of that. The goal of every poker hand is to make the most money (or lose the least), not to get the most information on our opponent's range.
1) For value:
Villain is a loose-passive fish who plays about %40 of his hands vs a raise.
Hero raises AK in LP
Fish in BB calls
Flop comes A92
Fish checks, Hero cbets...
Why are we betting here?
First thing's first, let's define our opponent's range: it's wide. Any ace, any broadway, any pair, and plenty of suited connectors.
Second, what part of that range will continue against our cbet? Probably any pair from Ax through 9x, maybe worse. Maybe sometimes he peels with KQ thinking he has the best hand. Maybe sometimes he gets fed up and check-raises with 67c. Sometimes he also has A9, A2, 99 or 22, and very rarely a slowplayed AA, but this part of his range is much smaller in comparison to the part that we have beat.
So we bet for value.
To clarify: we think our range not only beats our opponentís, but his CALLING RANGE vs our cbet will be a significant dog too.
2) As a bluff:
Villain in this hand is a
Hero raises 76 in LP
Reg in BB calls
Flop comes K82
Reg checks, Hero cbets...
Again, step one is to define our opponent's range on the flop. It most likely includes some AT, AJ, AQ type hands, most pairs up to probably JJ which he is normally 3betting preflop, some broadway hands and some suited connectors.
What part of that range continues vs a cbet? Most hands actually fold - he continues with all of his monsters obviously, Kx, probably 99-TT, and the occasional 89s or 78s. Everything else folds for the most part.
So again, to clarify: we bet as a bluff because we think we can fold out a large portion of villainís range, which often has us beat.
3) To pick up dead money:
This reason is clearly a bit more tricky, and should actually never be your primary reason for betting. It works for two reasons: 1) to buy our equity share in the pot, and 2) the dead money we pick up when our bet is successful is going to make up for all the times we're called and lose.
Let's make a very specific situation here, to illustrate this third point. Villain in this hand is a loose-passive fish who never
bluffs if we check back the flop, never
folds any pair on either the flop, turn or river, and folds everything else.
Hero raises KQ in MP
Fish in BB calls
Flop comes A62
Fish checks, Hero cbets...
Why are we betting?
Reason #1 doesn't apply, since he never calls with worse (like 89s for example).
Reason #2 doesn't apply either, since based on our assumption of him never folding a pair means he can't fold a better hand.
What about if he has a hand like 9
? It's a worse hand than ours, but we actually don't mind folding it out. Why? It still has equity against us. It has 6 outs to a pair and even has a backdoor draw - this means there's a non-zero chance he'll improve to the best hand, and in this theoretical situation, we can't allow that.
A more practical example would be something like 99 on an A82r flop. This is a spot where we could conceivably bet for value (perhaps a fish peels 8x here often) or as a bluff (in a 3bet pot a tight reg may fold TT), but either way it's thin
. The dead money in the pot is usually enough to make a hand like this a bet, and once again we don't mind folding out a hand like JT because it has equity that we don't want him to realize.
Remember that we can use combinations of several reasons too. With As7s on a Ts9s2c flop, we may bet as a bluff (to fold out 8h9h for example), and at the same time bet for value (to get a call from QcJh for example). All the while, collecting dead money if we get a fold is perfectly fine with us.