Playing micro-stakes online poker quite often I’ve found this exact thing happen often. When players bet a pot-sized bet on the flop, they’re not doing it for value, but they’re doing it to try and take the hand down with anything. They just want to be the first person firing a decent-sized bet at it. That’s the way I see this bet size played quite often in the very low stakes.
Dry flops encourage blind continuation betting
When it isn’t a particularly competitive pre-flop situation I think that “dry” flops with 3 unsuited relatively low cards encourages just people firing bullets at each other. When you’re out of position you’ve either got to go for something like a donkey bet or a check-raise to try and shut down the action.
Try calling the bet and waiting
That’s the main route: if you’re in position I quite like just calling bets and waiting because the pressure mounts on the guy out of position as the hand unfolds. A huge percentage of these flops you’re going to be winning or losing through non-showdown. Most of the time someone forces someone else to fold and I think showdowns are less common.
I think this encourages this almost bet-raise-re-raise and that seems to happen frequently on really dry flops. Because both players are saying, “I don’t believe you. I don’t believe you’ve hit this flop.” You get this kind of Mexican standoff where it’s, “Who’s going to be the first to fold?”
Stack-to-pot ratio in escalating poker hands
You’ve got to be careful in this type of situation. Stack-to-pot ratio is important. If it’s a really big number (8 is already medium size) then you don’t really want to be throwing too many chips in here with your Ace-10 because hands that go against you all the way to showdown are quite likely to be pocket pairs. Most other hands, it would take a brave player to bluff their way right through this hand. You will see people doing it, but when they’re really deep stacked they’re less likely to do it.
Dangers and benefits of checking in position
I think the danger in checking and an opponent perhaps connecting with the river and you losing the hand is still fairly small. Especially if they’ve got Ace-3 or something, you’re in really really good shape so I kinda feel like checking is not as dangerous as it might appear.
With position, the benefit is that the pressure’s back on your opponent on the river and they could make a mistake. If you bet the turn, you actually allow your opponent to find a correct fold and in poker you’re generally trying to make your opponent make mistakes.
The benefit in checking is that this action on the river is forced upon that player who could make the mistake of betting at the river and I think you want to encourage that mistake to happen. That’s why I like the check in position here most of the time.
How many betting rounds is a hand worth?
One thing that players can think about when they’re playing poker hands is, “How many bets is this hand worth?” Is it worth one street? Is it worth two streets? Is it worth three streets? And obviously if you have a monster you’re going to want to get three streets.
If you think in advance how many streets of value your hand is worth that can keep you from maybe making some ill-advised bets.
I think I have the best hand, but I don’t know if I’m going to get called by worse and I’m checking the turn to probably call on most rivers if the villain decides to bet. A hand like that is probably worth one to two streets and that’s what I’m looking to get by taking this line.
An extra tip for raising from the small blind
The raise size is the minimum, which I think modern theory is suggesting is not the best from the small blind. The reason being is that you’re giving such wonderful odds to the big blind to make the call so you lose a lot of your fold equity.
If you’re raising from the small blind you need to remember in your mind that most of what you’re trying to achieve is to make your opponent fold. So a slightly larger raise size, even just 2½ or 2¾ or perhaps 3x the big blind will secure more folds and that’s more important most of the time. So just a little tip for raising from the small blind.