Bet-call and check-call lines with weak hands

Example 1

$10/$25 six‐handed, two folds and a limper, I raise pot to $110 with K♥-10♥, SB calls and so does limper. I have $2,400 and limper covers me. The flop is K♣‐5♠‐Q♥, SB checks and BB leads out into me for $250. I call and the SB folds, the turn comes the 4♦ and he leads out $600. Now we have a decision to make and now it’s time to start hand reading.

Normally according to the basic concepts of poker this is a fold – it was a three‐way pot pre‐flop, we have top pair and a kicker that isn’t worth much and the opponent has made a decent‐sized turn bet and is certainly threatening to make a big river bet. Normally we don’t play top pair for big pots, let alone 100 BB. And had I been playing on autopilot without consciously and deliberately thinking through the hand I surely would have folded. But doing exactly that yields interesting results. Try putting him on a specific hand. A set? K‐K is very unlikely as there is exactly one combination, since I have a king and there is a king on the board; Q‐Q is also unlikely because he limp‐called pre‐flop, and for the same reason he doesn’t have aces. He also doesn’t have A‐K because he wouldn’t limp call with it pre‐flop.

K‐J is a possibility but this line with K‐J would be quite peculiar as his hand isn’t quite good enough to be played so aggressively. If he had K‐Q he probably would just raise pre‐flop but assuming he limp called he probably wouldn’t lead out on the flop since he has the board dominated. He could have a set of fives but that is only one hand combination so not too likely. Therefore since we can’t put him a set we will continue with K‐10 but should we raise or fold? Raising makes no sense as if he is bluffing we want him to keep bluffing and the board isn’t too scary with draws so we don’t need to raise for protection. The only reason to raise would be if we are very sure he has a draw and also very sure he will not bluff us on the river. So we call, the river is a queen and he goes all‐in. Now we must ask if there is anyway he could have a queen? Not really, he would have had to bet the flop and the turn with a Q somehow like A‐Q, K‐Q or Q‐5, which don’t make sense. So I call and he shows 8‐6 for a gutshot draw he picked up on the turn.

Example 2

$10/25 HU, the opponent has $1,350 and I cover. I have 9‐9, he raises on the button to $75 and I reraise to $225. He calls. The pot is $450 and he has $1,100 left, the flop is K♥‐8♠‐2♣. Now normally pot con‐ trol would be a huge factor here as you would be trying to keep the pot small because if the pot got big and you went to a showdown you would likely lose. In this particular case, however, the opponent is raising very frequently and calling all reraises. So in general pocket nines are a good hand and will often still be best on the flop. This flop is also relatively good with just one overcard so since he is so loose and tilting and our nines are probably the best hand we just have to get the money in and see what happens.

Therefore I bet $325 and he calls. The turn is the 7♠; I check because if he floated the flop with nothing or a weak hand just to see what I’d do, I want to give him a chance to bluff here. He went all‐in, I called and he had 5‐6. In this hand he could very easily have had us beat but sometimes in poker there is nothing you can do to avoid losing money and this would have been one of those spots.

Example 3

$25/50 HU, opponent is very loose‐aggressive and bad. He is raising almost every button and then almost always continuation betting the flop, he has $2,500 and I cover. He raises pre‐flop and I call with K‐10s. The opponent is so bad and needlessly aggressive that I can just wait to see if I hit a flop with this hand, and then get the money in from there because he will always bet. So here I call, the flop is K‐9‐3, I check and he bets $300 as expected. Now normally I have top pair with a medium kicker and it’s not good to get 50 BBs in on the flop with that on a dry board. A good player would either check behind on the flop with something like K‐5 so he can practice pot control himself, or he’d fold it pre‐flop, or if someone raised him he’d make a good decision. This particular opponent will not only bet the flop with K‐5, always raise it pre‐flop and will make a bad

decision if I raise, but he could be betting any two cards and will call with worse kings. So instead of calling which I’d normally do, in this case I check‐raised to $1,000, he immediately went all‐in and his K‐4 lost.

Example 4

$10/$25 HU, opponent is very bad and loose‐passive, he has already been stacked a couple of times. I raise K‐Qo to $75 and he calls. The flop is 4♦‐4♠‐6♦, he check‐calls a $125 bet. The turn is the 6♥ and he checks, I check behind. The pot is $450, the river comes an off‐suit Jack and he leads out $270. My instincts told me that something felt off – there was a combination of factors here that made his play sus‐ picious. He plays straightforward, so if he hit the six on the turn he probably would have led out and so far he has bet the full pot in‐ stantly with hands he likes and he didn’t do that here, which is evi‐ dence he doesn’t like his hand. He calls me pre‐flop almost every time so his hand range is wide, and he calls my flop bets very often, so his hand range is wide there, too. If he had ace high he would probably check the river because ace high has showdown value. With A‐4 in his hand he would raise the flop. A‐6 would probably bet the pot on the river. The combination of all these factors made me suspicious so I called and he had 5‐2. It’s worth noting that a raise is bad as if he has a 4 or a 6 he is never folding. The worst hand he could have is a jack and a raise is so suspicious and he’s so bad that he could call anyway.

Example 5

$10/$25 HU, opponent is a clown but plays like a nit so it’s a grind to take his money away. He min‐raises on the button, I re‐pop to $150 with 8‐8 and he calls. This sequence has happened a few times al‐ ready. He is short‐stacked with $1,200. The flop is A♣‐10♦‐2♣, and I check as there is no reason to bet. He checks too. The turn is the Q♠, I check and he checks. The river is the 4♣, I check and he bets $300.

Normally this is an easy fold just based on the obvious fact that it is an underpair to a board with three overcards in a re‐raised pot.

But my instincts said his bet doesn’t make sense. His pre‐flop range is wide as he raised pre‐flop a lot and would always call my reraise. Then if he has a big hand why wouldn’t he bet the flop or turn both for value and to protect his hand. Then the river is a blank so it doesn’t change the strength of his hand and he chose that time to bet? He bets full pot, too, which on that board indicates a good amount of strength which is inconsistent with the facts, so this is suspicious. Also, it indicates a lot of strength because he was not a sophisticated opponent so if he bets full pot it’s not with a medium strength hand mixing it up and he is not sophisticated enough to trap by checking the flop and turn with a good hand that often. Even given all of these factors it is still a hard call to make, given the board and the weakness of my hand but in HU poker and you can’t let scare cards get to you and you can’t let yourself get run over. I called and he had 6♥-9♥.

Example 6

$10/$25, same opponent, he has $1,300 and I cover. He limps on the button, I raise with K‐K to $75, he calls. The flop is J♣‐10♦‐3♥; I bet $150 and he calls. The turn is the 7♥ and it felt like he would fold if I bet and he might bet so I checked hoping to check‐raise but he checks behind. The river is the 8♥. I check and he quickly bets $450. Again my instincts said his bet was off partly because of his bet tim‐ ing. But it’s also based on straightforward hand analysis. He could have a flush but this is a backdoor flush and those are hard to come by HU. He could have a straight but that means very specific hands for him like 10‐9 or J‐9 or Q‐9. The big question is how sophisticated he is, e.g. would he bet two pair on the river against me to get value? A tough player would bet many two pair hands on the river as well as a flush or a straight so his hand range is a lot wider. But in this case the opponent isn’t sophisticated and would only bet a straight or flush or a bluff, which makes it a lot more likely I’m ahead. I called and he had 5‐3.

Example 7

$10/25 six‐handed, I raise in MP with A♥-9♥ to $85 and only the SB calls. The flop is 3♣‐10♦‐2♦, check‐check. The turn is the 4♠, check‐ check. The river is the 7♦ and the opponent quickly leads out the pot. What is he representing? Well he didn’t bet on the flop or the turn so based on that it doesn’t seem that strong. And if he had a medium to weak made hand wouldn’t he check the river and hope for a free showdown? So he’s representing a flush, but people don’t get

flushes all that often – additionally he might be betting with that on the turn. I called and he had Q♠-J♠.

Example 8

$5/$10 HU, opponent has $400 and I cover, he is bad and loose. I have A♠‐5♠ and raise on the button to $30, he calls. The flop is 5♥‐9♠‐6♦, he checks. In NLHE it can be hard to protect your hand sometimes – for instance if we bet the pot of $60 then he will not call with worse hands but he could bluff or semi‐bluff us and he can call with better hands. And if we changed our bet size to protect the pot to something like $20 then it would give a lot of information away about the type of hand we have and he could outplay us. So nor‐ mally to be deceptive we are forced to check in this situation. How‐ ever given that he is especially bad here I bet $25 for the purpose of protecting my hand since he is so bad he won’t be able to take ad‐ vantage of my obvious bet size.

He called and it’s unclear what he has at this point. The turn is the 3♦, he checks and I check behind. The river is the 9♦ and he leads out $110 quickly. Let’s do some hand reading – he quickly bet out the pot so he’s representing a good hand, which here would be a flush or a nine. Its not likely that he back‐doored a flush so does he have a nine? Well, because we bet so small on the flop his flop call does not prove to us that he has a nine. And particularly in light of the fact that he’s so bad and part of the reason we bet $25 is because he’s capable of calling it with garbage. Things get a little trickier if his hand range expands to include a pair of sixes because that expands his range significantly and makes it more likely he has one of the hands that he could be playing it that way that beats us. Fortunately this player is not sophisticated enough to make such aggressive value bets with weak hands. I called and he had J‐Qo.

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