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A Player Who Has Bet Aggressively

A player who has bet aggressively before and on the flop, and then checks on the turn usually has one of these hands:

  • Two big overcards such as A♥ K♦.  This is especially true if he’s last and it’s been checked to him.
  • An overpair but the turn card looks like it could have completed a straight or flush draw. 
  • An overpair, but the turn card paired the highest card on the flop.  For example the flop is J ♠ 8♦ 3♥ and the  turn is another jack.  He might have been able to beat someone holding a Jack but he can’t beat them now because it looks like they just made three Jacks on the turn.  He has nothing to gain by betting.
  • Top pair with a good kicker but it appears that someone else could have made two pair.  For example, you have A ♦ J ♥ and the flop is J♣ 8♠ 5♥ and the turn is Q ♥.  It is likely the Q ♥ helped someone make either Queens and Jacks, or a straight.
  • An inside straight draw without the right pot odds to draw to it.
  • A pair in the pocket lower than the highest card on the flop.  He bet it one time on the flop to represent top pair and is now checking.
  • Third High Card on the Turn

Most low limit players will play any and every time they’re dealt any two of the top five cards (Ace through Ten).  If two of these cards come on the flop and a third comes on the turn, then it is extremely likely that someone has made a straight, or at the very worst, a one card draw to the straight.  The chance of making a gutshot straight with one card to come is only 8.7%, so if that’s the draw you put someone on, then you should make then pay to make it.

  • Here’s a Tip

This saves me a few dollars on the turn once in a while: If I’m in a $ 1-$ 4-$ 8-$ 8 game with a player who habitually makes string bets, I will usually not correct him.  When it’s obvious he intends to bet $ 8 on the turn, but only puts $ 4 out there and then goes back to his stack to get $ 4 more, I don’t say anything if I intend to call anyway.  But…if I have a hand that I’m not too proud of and I want to see the river for as little as possible, I yell “Call” as soon as he puts that first $ 4 in the pot.  According to the rules, he cannot bet any more than that unless he said he was going to before he put the $ 4 in the pot.
  There’s a variation of this play that will save you some change in the long run.  If you’re first on the turn and you have that same lousy hand, you can bet $ 4 instead of $ 8 if you don’t fear a raise and having to ultimately call your $ 4 bet and an $ 8 raise.

  • Here Is an Advanced Play

When you have an Ace in the pocket.  Assume you have the A♠ and the flop has two spades and a third spade comes on the turn.  You can bet it right out as if you had the ♠ flush.  After all, you’re the only one who knows your other pocket card is not a ♠.  You will often win the pot right there, and if you do get called, you have a 19.6% chance of making the ♠ flush on the river.  You also have an additional 6.5% chance of making an Ace on the river, to give you a 26.1% chance to win the hand.
What makes this is a good play poker is that you know that no other player can have the nut flush and this makes it more likely that they won’t call you with a ♠ draw when you bet.  Also, there are a few players who will actually throw away a completed flush on the turn if it’s bet and their flush is not that high.  They know that if you have a ♠ in the pocket higher than either one of theirs, they could lose a big pot.  You just have to know your opponents.

  • If You Are Going to Call on the River Anyway

You should consider raising on the turn, especially if you have a medium strength hand with a chance of improving on the river.  The logic is that since you’re probably going to put two big bets into the pot anyway, you can put it all in on the turn and possibly win the pot right there.  You will be giving the impression that you have a great hand and this sets up an opportunity to steal the pot on the river.
  Because of your raise on the turn, players will now muck better than average hands on the river.  If you improve on the river, then you will have extracted an extra bet from the other players when you had the best hand.  If everyone checks on the river because of your raise, then the play didn’t cost any extra chips since it would have went bet-bet on the turn and river anyway.
  In summary, the turn is when you have the first big opportunity to bet more, raise when the bets have doubled, and make the draws pay to beat you.

Pot Odds & Calling on the River
  The first thing you need to understand when it comes to calling on the end is the concept of pot odds.  It’s pretty easy, but it’s very important.  Simply put, put odds is the odds that the pot is offering you in relation to the size of the bet you are making or calling.  For example, if a sole opponent bets $ 8 into a $ 72 pot (to create an $ 80 pot) then you are getting pot odds of 10 to 1.  if you think your odds of winning if you call are better than 10 to 1, then you should call.  If you think your odds of winning  the hand if you call are less than 10 to 1, then you should not call.
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  Here is why this logic works: Assume that your chances of winning the hand in the above example are exactly 10 to 1.  You will call $ 8 ten times for a total loss of $ 80.  This is the “10” in the 10 to 1 odds.  Then you will call one time and win for a total gain of $80  (the $ 88 pot minus your $ 8 call).  This is the “1” in the 10 to 1 odds.  Your net win/loss after these eleven plays (10 losses and 1 win ) is exactly zero.  Since your odds of winning the hand are exactly equal to the pot odds, you have a zero expectation in the long run.  And since you do have a zero expectation, it makes no difference if you fold or call in these situations.
  Notice that if you win two hands out of eleven instead of only one, you would be ahead $ 80 instead of even.  So, to justify calling, you have to have a better than one out of eleven chance of winning poker tricks hand. Whether or not you actually have those odds is up to your judgment and experience.  When it’s up to you to call on the end, all you have to do is divide the size of the bet you have to call in, to the size of the pot.  This will give you a number that we will call “X”.  Then you mentally ask yourself, “Do I have at least a one out of “X” chance of winning this pot if I call this bet”?  If the answer is “yes” then you should call the bet.
  This often leads to what sometimes appears to be some really silly betting and calling on the end, especially if the pot is huge and there are only two players.
  Let’s say the pot has $ 160 in it and the first player bets in to the second, and only other player.  The first player flopped the nut flush draw and missed.  He knows that he cannot check and win and that his only chance of winning the hand is to bet and not get called.  Since $ 8 goes into $ 160 twenty times, he needs only a one in twenty chance to win the hand to show a profit in the long run.
  Now the caller, who also has nothing but can beat a pure bluff, only has to call $ 8 in to a $ 168 pot ad have a one in twenty-one chance to win the hand.  If he puts the better on a busted flush and knows that the bettor cannot check and win, (which is more often one time in twenty –one) then he should call every time.
  On the river, you have an opportunity to make a certain type of mistake that you usually don’t get until the river.  When it comes to calling a bet, especially on the river, there are two types of mistakes you can make:

  • A mistake that will cost you a single bet.
  • A mistake that will cost you the pot.

Obviously, the bigger the pot is, the more costly to you a mistake is if you fold but should have called.

There is one other consideration when the pot is very large.  That is: When the bettor is sure you have at least a reasonable hand and that you will probably call no matter what he bets or what type of poker hand you have.  The question is, “Does he know he’s going to be called”? If so, it’s much less likely that he’s bluffing and you should use this information to reevaluate your actual chances of winning the hand.
No pot is so big that you have to call if you are certain that you are beat.  There are times, that you will learn from experience, when you just know that you are beat and you don’t have to call that one last bet.
Here’s a few miscellaneous thoughts about calling on the end:

  • Be Aware of the Pot Odds

Couple this information with who it is that is doing the betting.  If you are getting terrible odds, i.e., you have to call an $ 8 bet into a $ 24 pot, and the bettor is a very good player, then you can usually fold the hand without much worry.  On other hand, if it’s a $ 140 pot and it’s just you and the loosest player in the game, I’d call his bet just about every time.  Don’t forget to consider the bettor’s position and your estimation of what you think his hand is.

  • Nuts on the River

Realize that if you make the nuts on the river and you have to call a bet in early position, you just might make more money in the long run if you call rather than raise.  Better to have five players call behind you than to raise and get only one or no callers.  Also, if you just call, there is a chance for someone behind you to raise, and then you can reraise.

  • Did the Draw Get There

One good method of helping you figure out what the bettor might have when he bets on the river is to compare the river card to the flop and see if it helps make a straight or flush or even Aces-up.  This is especially helpful when two to a suit came on the flop and the bettor checked and called until the other of that suit came on the river.
Another good example would be if the flop were Q ♦ T ♠ 6♣ and he checked and called on the flop and again when the turn card was 5♥. If the river is a King or an 8 and he bets it right out into you, then you can be pretty sure he’s holding J♠ 9♦ and he made the straight.

  • If You Make a Flush with Big Cards

Then you would like to make it on the turn so that weaker hands will pay you off in an effort to draw out on you.  Anyone with a set has a 21.7% chance of making a full house with one cards to come and anyone holding two split pair has only an 8.7% chance of making the full house to beat you.  Make them pay since you’re going to win the hand most of the time.
If you make a flush using small cards, like 5♥ 4♥, then you would like to make the flush on the river.  This gives you the best chance of winning the hand because a player holding a higher ♥ in the pocket does not get any more cards to draw out on you.  If you make your 5-high flush on the turn, you will lose to a higher flush 19.6% of the time.  Do not slow play either of these types of flushes since you either lose money when you have the best hand in one instance or you give a free card that could hurt you in another.

  • Don’t Check, Bet

If you’re going to check and call on the end anyway, you should consider going ahead and being the bettor yourself.  If you check, you might induce a bluff from a player who wouldn’t call if you bet. This is especially true when you’re head-up with just one player and the river was not a straight or a flush card.  This also gains you a bet when you have a mediocre hand but your opponent calls with just a slightly worse hand.  The added possibility that you could be bluffing will also get some calls on the end.

  • Flash One of Your Cards

Often you will have the nuts when it’s just you and one other player on the end.  If you bet and that player is genuinely undecided about calling your bet, you can show him just one of your cards to make him think about your hand.  Usually, showing him one of your cards will pique his interest and he’ll often go ahead and call just to see your other card.
  If he decides to fold without calling your bet, it’s important that you do not show your other card to him, or to anyone else, for that matter.  Why should he call your bet if he knows you’re going to show the card games after the hand anyway?  And if you show it to another player or a spectator, he has the right to ask to see it also