Betting In No Limit And Pot Limit
In fixed limit holdem, sometimes you flop the top set but are afraid that one of the players you're up against might have a flush or straight draw. So you bet to get them out. Unfortunately, the pot odds in limit games are often such that it is correct for a player to call (or even raise) with a flush or straight draw. When they hit that flush on the river after you bet the most you were allowed at every opportunity, it can make you feel unlucky, helpless, and (in a lot of cases) angry.
In a game where the limit allows players to bet different amounts, there are situations where you can push a player on the flush or straight draw so hard that they have to fold. Even if they call, they're not getting the right odds to call because of your bet. In no limit, a lot of the money a player makes comes from making bets and giving odds to a player to call that straight or flush draw. Those odds you give should be enough so that it's incorrect to call and little enough so that your opponent calls. You should give them just enough rope to hang themselves.
Often in hold em we just believe a player to be on a flush draw. It's the most common draw to be on and also the most likely draw to succeed. Since it is the most likely kind of draw to hit, it's often the one used to calculate a bet. So in the upcoming example we don't mention possibilities like a pair turning into trips or an open-ended straight draw because if those events are present, the chance of fulfilling one of those draws is worse than a basic flush draw.
So here's an example in a $5/$10 no limit hold'em ring game...
Mr. Nguyen has pocket rockets, an Ace of Diamonds and an Ace of Hearts. Through preflop betting the pot gets up to $500 with two players left. Mr. Nguyen ($4000 left) and Mr. Smith ($2800 left) with Mr. Nguyen acting first. The flop looks like:
If Mr. Nguyen believes that Mr. Smith may have a flush draw, he should bet enough so that his opponent is getting the wrong odds to call. If Mr. Smith does indeed have a flush draw he'll assume (based on his perceived outs) that he has around a 35% chance of hitting that flush. So in theory, we should bet more than enough to give him the wrong odds to call.
The amount can be tricky. If we bet $800, it would put the pot up to $2100 (assuming he called). $800 / $2100 is around 38%, so it would be enough to statistically ruin his call. We've developed a bet analyst to help you with those amounts.
That's a really close amount and barely, barely makes it a wrong call for Mr. Smith. The bad news is that to really push around players on draws that hit a third of the time, you've gotta bet as much as twice the size of the pot. The good news is that if they call and don't hit their card, their chances will shrink to worse than 20% and you get to bet again.
I'll mention that there can be arguments for Mr. Smith that even though it's wrong to call that bet on the flop with a flush draw, it might be correct for him to raise there. We're not going to get into all that here. There is another approach if Mr. Smith is a player who would actually raise there.
After realizing the minimum amount for a bet to be profitable against a draw, you bet an amount no less than that amount based on the number of chips your opponent has left. Mr. Smith has $2800 left. You bet a percentage of his stack relative to his chance of hitting his flush draw. He's got a 35% chance, so you bet around $1000, a little over a third of his stack.
Not only would Mr. Smith get terrible odds to call, but he would be committing himself to the entire hand if he calls. If he missed on the turn, you would bet the rest of it. Pot would then be at $2500 with an $1800 call on top and a 20% of hitting the flush, which would be another terrible call. Basically Mr. Nguyen is saying "If you wanna try and draw out on me and you miss, you'll be broke."
So many of you might be noticing that in pot limit holdem, you can never offer incorrect odds on the flop for an opponent to chase a flush draw. The worst you can ever give is 2 to 1 (33%). So you bet the pot because it's still better than an opponent's immediate chance to hit a flush card on the turn, which is around 20%.
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