Bet Big With Your Big Hands

There are a number of situations in No Limit Holdem where you will find yourself on the river with a huge hand, but your opponent will almost never have a strong hand. This usually happens when more than one draw gets there at the same time.

If your opponent will call with the same range against a large bet as he will against a small bet, then you should go ahead and make the larger bet. Your expectation will be higher. Sometimes you can go so far as to make a fishy looking overbet, hoping to arouse suspicion. Unfortunately, these tactics won’t work that often against most opponents.

What you’re left with is the task of selling your hand. Here’s an example:

You call in the cutoff with QJ♥ against a hijack opener. Stacks are 200 blinds deep. The flop comes out T83♥, and the plan is to raise. When the preflop raiser makes a full pot sized bet, however, it’s time to change plans. This guy’s range is now too strong to push him off of many hands. It looks like he’s happy to play a big pot.

The turn is the 2♠, so no help there. Again, the opponent fires off a pot sized bet. With a flush draw, gutshot, two overcards, and position, you call again. Given the deep stacks, implied odds should be strong, particularly if the straight comes in.

The river is the A♥ and the aggressor checks. Unless he’s getting tricky with the nut flush, this must look like the worst card in the world to him. Flushes got there, and ace-ten just pulled ahead of his overpairs.

Firing off a large bet in this situation is a large mistake. The hijack will almost never have a strong hand. He’s not happy about the river card. When he looks at that river card and a large bet, he’s going to flip his cards in the muck without thinking twice.

This is a time to sell your hand. We know that you want to win a big pot when you make a big hand. We do too! But your opponent is clearly unhappy with his hand now, and won’t let you win a big pot. There is a chance that he’ll call a smaller bet, though. Bet half the pot, or even a little less.

Against some sophisticated opponents, it’s not worth trying to sell your hand. But this is a situation where many players simply can’t resist calling down. They want to fold, but they think about how strong their hand was on the turn, look at the attractive pot odds you’re offering them, and click the call button. That could be 20 or more blinds in your pocket every time this situation occurs.

Don’t make small bets to sell your hand to players who are willing to call more, but you can’t always blow weak hands out of the pot either. Especially not when your opponent can’t be strong. Recognize when your opponent hates the river card, and make him an offer he can’t refuse.

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