A player limps. You make it $20 to go from four off the button with J♠T♠. Two players call behind, the small and big blinds call, and the limper calls. There’s $120 in the pot and six players.
The flop comes 7♠2♦2♣. Everyone checks. What should you do?
This is a situation I might consider bluffing, even in a multi- way pot against loose players. It’s hard for anyone to make a good hand on this flop. When you’re considering pushing your way through four or five opponents with barrels, you want flops where an obvious, but relatively rare hand, is the boss (i.e., a flop like 9♦4♦2♦). Or where it’s difficult to make anything at all with a
flop like this. As the pre-flop raiser, you can represent A-A and often get anyone not holding at least a deuce to fold.
If I bet the flop, I’d bet on the small side like $40 or $50. I choose this bet sizing for three reasons.
First, if I actually held A-A, I’d probably bet that much. Second, it lets you off cheap if someone check-raises. Third, it encourages people to call with marginal hands. Again, it’s often a good thing to encourage marginal calls if you intend to bet the next street. So I’d bet small, and if called in one or two places, I’d bet the turn for a much bigger amount—perhaps $150 or $200. This line looks like an “obvious” A-A or K-K to seasoned players, and they’ll often be prone to release hands like 8-8 or 8-7 to a turn bet.
I’m talking about representing A-A in this analysis, but realize that we’re not barreling this board because we can represent A-A. We’re barreling because our opponents are unlikely to have strong hands they’ll want to play for stacks. The fact that we can have A- A—giving our opponents a concrete threat to fear—is just icing on the cake.
Notice, again, if your opponents were to fold these hands to a turn bet, they’d be making a fold per Skill #2. This is the core premise of 2-5 skills—your opponents at this level tend to be familiar with the concepts from our 1-2 chapter. You’re going to use their mastery of these skills against them by forcing them to fold their weak ranges on board textures that are hard to hit. And even when they hit these boards, you’re sometimes going to force them into making Skill #2 folds.
If they’re going to refuse to pay you off when you flop a set, then you simply bluff them to death.