The Blocker Bet

I vi ii V7

Blocking Bets

I don’t claim to be an expert on the subject, but hopefully I can get the discussion going in the right direction.

Definition: A bet made OOP on the turn or river, attempting to “set the price” of the river or showdown. You bet because your hand has value vs some of your opponent’s range, but you don’t figure to have the best hand if you have to call large bets and get to showdown. The bet you make is typically smaller than what you would likely face if you checked.

In a sense, a blocking bet is kind of a bluff. You do have showdown value, but you do also fold out a few better hands, enough so that it makes betting slightly better than check/ calling or getting to showdown.

Things to consider:

Your hand strength: I would not make a blocking bet with a nuts/air type hand. When making a blocking bet, you should feel fine about getting called. I don’t feel fine about getting called when I make a small bet with the nuts/air. I’m losing value when ahead and not effectively bluffing when behind.

I am much happier making a blocking bet with second pair/ underpairs or weak top pairs than I am with total nothing.

Your opponent: Make blocking bets vs villains who don’t see them for what they are (as in, basically most regs at 50NL and below). Don’t make blocking bets vs aggor-tards who will raise you anyways. Don’t make blocking bets vs passive players who would check behind anyways.

Board texture: My input here might be a little more vague. Basically, you want to make blocking bets on boards where your opponent should realistically only be raising with hands that beat you.

Why villains call: You may be sitting there reading that last statement, thinking to yourself, “Wait a sec, I vi, if they only raise with better hands, aren’t I bluffing?” Sort of, yes and no. Villains call (incorrectly) for two reasons when you make a blocking bet. One, “lolol pot odds, I have to call this.” And two, “Whut fux?? I has Ace King, I draw to tawp pair!!” Which brings me to my next point.

Bet sizing: A pot sized OOP turn bet is not a blocking bet. A 2/3 pot sized OOP turn bet is not a blocking bet. I will go so
far to say that a 1⁄2 pot sized OOP turn (or river…) bet is pretty much the most I will blocking bet for. Remember what I said about why people call? Give them a reason to call unprofitably. Are you OOP on the turn, up against a TAG reg, with JJ on a 26TK board? Go ahead and bet 1⁄4 or 1/5 pot and see what they do. They call? Bet 1/5 pot again on the river and laugh when they show you 77 or AT.

Each situation is different, but the main thing to remember is that you are keeping them from making big bets that you can’t profitably call, and you do rate to have the best hand a fair amount of the time if you can keep the pot size manageable.
If you get raised with JJ after block betting a 26TK board, you can be like 90% certain you’re beat. But hell, with the games playing as nitty as they are these days, I could see even a hand as strong as KQ/AK just calling you down, for fear that you flopped huge. So keep in mind that when you get called, you sometimes won’t have the best hand, BUT you kept the better hands from maximizing against you. And what was that thing that Split taught us all a while ago? Say it with me: Minimizing loss is the same as maximizing gain.

And now the fun examples!

Hand 1
Villain is a reg running 14/9/5 over 2400 hands. His flop Cbet % is 68%. I figure he is opening with basically all pocket pairs, strong face cards, and medium suited face cards, sometimes medium suited connectors. His flop check doesn’t mean
much, because this board is super dry. He checks his AK here sometimes. He’s betting the turn with his whole range, IMO, after I check both streets. I bet super small on the river both to get all of his weak crap to call “because lolol pot odds I have to call this,” and because I do get to fold out better hands sometimes. I’m basically gonna have to flip a coin and guess if I check the river and he decides to bet like $7 with his 22 – 88 UI.

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HAND #1

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Poker Stars, $0.25/$0.50 NL Hold’em Cash Game, 9 Players Hand History Converter by Stoxpoker

SB: $47.20 (94.4 bb)

Hero (BB): $52.25 (104.5 bb)

UTG: $49 (98 bb)
UTG+1: $51.90 (103.8 bb) MP1: $53.40 (106.8 bb) MP2: $59.05 (118.1 bb) MP3: $55.90 (111.8 bb) CO: $10 (20 bb)
BTN: $66.70 (133.4 bb)

Hand 2
No stats, no HUD. Villain seems interested in the pot, my hand has showdown value, but I can’t call a big river bluff, should he decide to turn his unimproved pocket pair into a bluff. I set the price, hopefully getting a “lolol pot odds” call from those hands, and I’m folding if he raises (since it will mean Jx almost always and Ax sometimes). Villain claims he had TT, and I’m inclined to believe him.

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HAND #2

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Poker Stars, $0.25/$0.50 NL Hold’em Cash Game, 8 Players Hand History Converter by Stoxpoker

CO: $68.60 (137.2 bb) BTN: $34 (68 bb)
SB: $43 (86 bb)
Hero (BB): $50 (100 bb) UTG+1: $44.45 (88.9 bb) MP1: $45.10 (90.2 bb) MP2: $54.50 (109 bb)

MP3: $59.25 (118.5 bb)

Hand 3
Villain was 80/13 over 3 orbits

I use blocking bets to keep the pot small and get to showdown, and because i think worse will call. I fold if he raises at some point…betting prevents me checking and being bluffed off the best hand. Note here that even though we didn’t win the hand, we got to showdown and lost the minimum because we set the price. I do think this is the type of player who will call down with much worse, sometimes even AK.

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HAND #3

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Poker Stars, $0.25/$0.50 NL Hold’em Cash Game, 8 Players Hand History Converter by Stoxpoker

MP3: $50.15 (100.3 bb)
CO: $69.55 (139.1 bb)
BTN: $70.05 (140.1 bb) Hero (SB): $50.50 (101 bb) BB: $63.35 (126.7 bb) UTG+1: $60.40 (120.8 bb) MP1: $11.30 (22.6 bb)

MP2: $67.15 (134.3 bb)

So anyways, I hope this week will provide some great discussion on blocking bets. I think people either don’t use it enough, use it incorrectly, or use it without knowing why. Again, I don’t claim to be an expert on the subject, or even that my examples were good ones, I only hope I get the thread going in the right direction.

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