You open for $5 in
early position. Everyone folds except the player under the
gun who originally checked to you and who now raises another
$5. We'll assume you know this player will never make such
a play without three-of-a-kind or better. We'll also assume
that with the antes and your implied odds it would be incorrect
to fold even if you knew your opponent had a pat hand. So
the question is whether you should simply call the $5 raise
or reraise another $5.
Your opponent's raise
tells you he has either trips, which must necessarily be
smaller than your three aces, or a pat hand. If he has trips,
you have the best hand and are the favorite to win the pot;
if he has a pat hand, you have the second-best hand and
are an underdog to win the pot. According to draw poker
distribution, your opponent will have three-of-a-kind about
65 percent of the time and a pat hand about 35 percent of
the time. When he has a pat hand, you should obviously not
reraise. However, it's nearly 2-to-1 he has trips. Should
you therefore reraise ?
The answer is no
because when you only call and your opponent draws cards,
you can draw one card, as though you had two pair, and check-raise
after the draw. Assuming he calls your raise, which he will
almost always do, and neglecting the slight chance of your
opponent improving to a full house when you don't, you win
$30 (plus the antes) by playing this way - $10 before the
draw and $20 afterward when you check, your opponent bets
$10, and you raise to $20. In contrast, by reraising $5
before the draw and coming out betting $ 10 afterward, you
win a total of $25 - $15 before the draw and $10 afterward.
Thus, the 65 percent of the time your opponent has three-of-a-kind,
you win $5 more by calling instead of reraising. At the
same time, the 35 percent of the time he has a pat hand
(and you don't improve to a full house), you lose only $10
instead of $15, a savings of $5. Therefore, in this situation
a call is the correct play since it is right all the time
whether your opponent has three-of-a-kind or a pat hand.
Your opponent, who
is a good player, checked and called your bet on the flop.
When the deuce falls, your opponent checks again. Should
you check or bet your pair of kings?
In hold 'em, any
time an opponent bets, calls, or raises, good players ask,
"What could my opponent have done that with?"
Then they think of the various hands the opponent might
have to do what he did. So when your opponent called your
bet on the flop and then checked on fourth street, you try
to determine what hands he might have that prompted him
to play the way he did.
Your opponent could
be slow playing a better hand than yours - say, K,9 or 6;6.
You estimate there's a 25 percent chance he has such a hand.
He might have a fairly good hand such as K,J or K,10. You
figure those hands at 25 percent, too. Your opponent might
have a mediocre hand like K,4 or A,9 or 10,10. The chances
of those hands you put at 35 percent. And you figure there's
a 15 percent chance your opponent has 8,7 and is drawing
to a straight.
You know that if
you bet on fourth street after his check, your opponent
will probably call with his fair hands, with a straight
draw and at least call with his big hands. However this
player will probably fold his mediocre hands because the
pot is not big enough to justify calling with them. Therefore,
after your opponent checks on fourth street, it turns out
the correct play may be to check it right back." Your
intentions are to bet on the end if your opponent checks
and call if he bets.
The rationale for
this play is that, like many players, this opponent will
fold his mediocre hands if you bet on fourth street to avoid
having to call twice to see what you have. Your checking
on fourth street makes it easier for him to call on the
end, not only because you have made it cheaper but also
because you have shown weakness. Obviously checking is also
the better play that 25 percent of the time you have the
worse hand. Finally, checking on fourth street induces a
bluff on the end.
to checking on fourth street are:
||It gives your
opponent a free card to outdraw you.
||There's a 25
percent chance -your opponent has a hand like K,J or
Which he would probably call twice.
It is important that
the pot be small - say, under $60 in a $10-$20 games - to
make checking right because you gain only one bet by checking
and betting on the end into your opponent's mediocre hands,
but you lose the whole pot if the free card gives your opponent
the best hand.
Notice that the percentages
support checking as the correct play on fourth street.
hand (K,J or K,10)
Because you expect
your opponent to fold his mediocre hands if you bet on fourth
street, and you want to win at least one more bet from those
hands, the correct play 60 percent of the time is to check.
It is correct to bet only 40 percent of the time. You usually
pick the play that is likely to be right most of the time:
Therefore, you check.