Dec 8 2009

Missing Max Value and Getting Stuck in a Tough Spot

written by: John under Poker Strategy Comments: Comments Off

Extracting max value from a solid hand requires that you bet your hand on every street, in one way or another. If your hand’s strength improves it is generally a good idea to increase your bet sizes accordingly.

There will certainly be times where you can implement a check raise to help build the pot most effectively, but more often than not you will be best off by simply firing out bets. Think about the times where a check raise is effective. The only time a check raise is truly profitable is if you cooler the other player or they floated you. The reality is that you will not usually be coolering another player, you will instead have them crushed (or you will be crushed).

So what am I getting at? Try to cut down on check raises when aiming for value as the odds are that you are using them far too frequently. You will be surprised at the average player’s complete unwillingness to fold when someone leads into them and their complete willingness to fold when someone check raises them. A check raise is always indicative of extreme strength so it comes down to a matter of whether your extreme strength is better than their extreme strength.

No-Limit Hold’em, $.50 BB (6 handed)

Button ($49.75)

SB ($52)

BB ($29.50)

UTG ($62.17)

MP ($109.28)

Hero (CO) ($62.88)

Preflop: Hero is CO with Ad, Jh

2 folds, Hero bets $1.75, Button calls $1.75, 2 folds

Pre flop we are dealt a pretty strong starting hand, definitely big enough for an open raise to start the action. Our open is called by the button and we will see the flop out of position.

Flop: ($4.25) Jc, 2h, 9d (2 players)

Hero bets $4.25, Button calls $4.25

The flop hits us pretty hard and it is a near guarantee that we are holding the best hand. The first step in extracting max value from our hand is of course to lead out with a bet. Anywhere from $3.50 to pot ($4.25) is alright. The board is not very draw heavy so we don’t really need to worry about our opponent chasing down a draw.

Turn: ($12.75) Ac (2 players)

Hero checks, Button checks

The turn is a great card for a number of reasons. Not only is our hand improved, but it is also entirely possible that the button floated our flop bet with a random ace. This is a spot where a check raise would push a random paired ace out of the pot a large portion of the time. If we check raise and get it all in there will be very few hands that we have crushed, maybe something like J9 or A9, but that is about it. A bet would have been the best play on the turn.

River: ($12.75) 10d (2 players)

Hero bets $6.37, Button raises to $24.74, Hero calls $18.37

The river is a seemingly harmless ten. We need to lead out here in an attempt to get one last bit of value from our hand. Once we lead out we are raised. Now we are left with a difficult decision. While we do have top two pair, what types of hands are really shoving over use here knowing that we will rarely fold? Not many. An argument can be made for folding here considering how small the river lead was, but if we had led out for $10 or so we will always have to make the call. Two things were incorrect about this river play. The lead needs to be bigger (in which case we make an easy call), or a fold should be made if we lead out this small. We end up calling and are beat by a hand that has us crushed, QK for the straight.

Total pot: $62.23 | Rake: $3.50


Button had Kd, Qs (straight, Ace high).

Hero mucked Ad, Jh (two pair, Aces and Jacks).

Outcome: Button won $117.46

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