A player makes it $20 to go in early position. A regular calls in the cutoff, and you call on the button with 9♣8♣. The blinds fold. There’s $67 in the pot.
The flop comes K♦Q♥8♠.
The pre-flop raiser bets $30, and the next player folds. What do you do?
Call. Some players would look at the king and queen, the fact that this player raised pre-flop, and assume they were likely behind. But the bet size belies that story a bit. Most players with a hand like A-K or K-Q would bet bigger into two opponents.
There’s considerable chance that the raiser has a hand like T-T or A-5 suited or 6-6 and is simply C-betting.
You can call and see what he does on the turn. This will help you decide how to proceed.
For argument’s sake, say you call. There’s $127 in the pot. The turn is the 3♣, making the board K♦Q♥8♠3♣. Your opponent checks. What should you do?
Bet. There are two ways to look at your hand. First, because you have a pair, you could decide it’s a weak made hand and start thinking in terms of streets of value. This hand has zero streets of value, since very often you can’t reasonably expect a 2-5 player to call you with anything worse.
Often, it’s more accurate to treat hands like this where you pair a smaller board card as bluffing hands. You can get people to fold stronger hands, and if you’re called by top pair, you have five outs.
This is a blurry line. Sometimes when you bet these hands, you won’t actually know if you want to get called by worse hands or get better hands to fold. Sometimes you won’t want to bet—this would make sense if either of those possibilities were unlikely. But other times, you’ll want to bet, because the chance of one of these two positive outcomes is high.
There’s no clear answer in these situations. You should analyze them on their own merits, and attempt to predict how your opponents will react to bets. Try to get a sense of positive outcomes if you bet—and how likely these outcomes are.
In this case, I would treat the hand as a bluff, because there’s a good chance your opponent has a hand like A-Q or T-T, and there’s also a good chance he’ll fold these hands to pressure.
I’d bet about $70 into the $127 pot. The bet’s big enough to get your opponent to release most of your targeted hands, but it’s also likely a bet size you’d choose if you were the one holding A- K.
If you bet on the small side, it encourages marginal hands like K-9 and A-Q to call. If you’re strongly considering a river barrel, these extra calls can be a good thing, since they’ll be your target hands for the final barrel. You’ll make considerably more money if K-9 and A-Q call the turn and fold the river, than if they fold straight out on the turn. This logic applies, of course, only if you barrel the river. Whether to do that is player-dependent (i.e., will your opponent ever fold a hand like K-T to sufficient pressure?).
This hand falls under the “when in doubt, bet the turn,” line of thinking.
A player limps. You raise to $20 from two off the button with
K♦Q♦. The big blind calls, as does the limper. There’s $62 in the pot.
The flop comes A♣8♣5♦.
Your opponents check. You bet $40, and the big blind calls. The turn is the T♠. Your opponent now bets $60 into the
$142 pot. What do you do?
This is a live-read situation that applies in most games. The player in the big blind has an ace with a kicker he’s worried about. He check-calls the flop, and then he bets out on the non-club turn card in an attempt to see where he’s at. He’s worried if he checks the turn, you’ll make a big bet, and he won’t know whether to call down or fold.
He tries to derail that potential course of action by betting out of turn. But he doesn’t want to invest a lot in the hand, because he’s worried he’s beaten. So he bets around half-pot. His plan is to fold if you raise. That’s the entire point of keeping the bet on the small side—so he saves money if he has to fold. So make him fold.
You can just blow him out of the water by raising his $60 bet to $180 or more. Or, if you want to get greedy (entailing more risk on your part, of course), you can min-raise him to $120. That bet may get him to fold as well, but he might feel obligated to call for only $60 more. Then the plan is to blow him out on any river card. Both options are viable. The second is riskier, because it allows a card to come off that helps his hand. It does, however,
save a few bucks if your opponent was setting you up and reraises. But this set-up rarely happens.
If you’re playing out of the big blind against a professional live no-limit hold ’em player, an ace hits the flop, and you want that player to raise you on the turn, you can take this betting line. Check-call the flop, then bet out small on the turn. You’ll get that raise the vast majority of the time. Almost all live pros know about this spot.
A player limps. You make it $20 to go with A♣5♣ from the cutoff. The button calls, the big blind calls, and the limper calls. There’s $82 in the pot.
The flop is Q♣9♦6♦. Everyone checks to you, and you bet $80. The button and big blind fold, and the limper calls.
The turn is the T♥. Your opponent checks. What do you do? ♠
Check. This is the exception to the “just bet” rule on the turn. The ten is the worst turn card for you if your goal is to get your opponent to fold. A lot of different hands will call this flop, from A-Q to 7-5, and everything in between. Almost all these hands improve with the ten.
Here are a few examples. J-T improves from a straight draw to a pair and a straight draw. T-9 obviously improves to two pair. J- 9 improves from a pair, to a pair and a straight draw. 8-7 improves to a straight. T-8 improves to a pair and a double gutshot. And so forth.
Almost no matter what your opponent has, if he thought his hand was worth an $80 call on the flop, he will think this turn card improved his hand. The goal is to attack weakness and avoid strength. This turn card adds too much strength to your opponent’s range.
It doesn’t help that your hand has little value of its own on this board. You caught a bad turn card. Just give up.
If the turn had instead been the 3♥, this would be a clear situation in which to bet again.