Monday, January 31, 2011

Value Betting and Pot Control

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Whilst many the decisions you will have to make when playing no limit Texas Hold'em will be pretty straightforward there will be occasions where the correct choice is not easy to make. It is in these spots that the better players amongst us excel, often winning money where other would lose it.

In the long run, whether using the betfair offer code or not, we all get our fair share of big hands, marginal hands, monsters and coolers so the biggest difference between winners and losers cannot be in the cards they are dealt but in how they use them. One of the areas where good players constantly outperform their weaker opponents is value betting and pot control, the former being extremely important in short-handed cash games.

At micro, low and medium stakes games then you should only really worry about taking the most optimal line available and not give too much credit to balancing your play. For example, if you raise preflop with AsKs and you and one other opponent see a Kh-Jh-6c flop. The obvious, and correct play in this spot should be to continuation bet both for value as you probably have the bets hand but also for protection against the possible draws your opponent could have. Against an opponent who is pretty aggressive and would likely bet if you checked, allowing you to then check-raise, you could check but this should not be your default line because your opponent likely has a draw or a weaker hand than yours and will mostly check behind but would call a continuation bet. You lose value, something you cannot afford to do regularly.

Those looking ahead to Betfair Poker Live London note that having position changes how you approach the game as it allows you to dictate the flow of the game and the pot size. Say you raise a limper whilst holding black queens, he calls and you see a nice looking 2h-6h-Tc flop. He check-calls your continuation bet and the 9h comes on the turn. Again your opponent checks, now is the perfect time to check behind to control the size of the pot. If you bet and he raises you are going to be hard pressed to call and he could be making such a play with a hand like ace-ten, much worse than your queens. By checking the turn you have made the pot size much less so if they do fire a bet out on a relatively blank looking river you can call and if they do have the flush you will not lose as much money as you could have.

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