Sunday, November 22, 2009

Analyzing NLHE:TAP Concept 40

After this post, I'll be two-thirds of the way through my analysis of the sixty concepts at the end of No Limit Hold 'em: Theory and Practice by David Sklansky and Ed Miller.

Concept No. 40: Certain flops require certain-size bets. No matter what hand you hold, your flop bets, on average, should be smaller on flops like AhKdKs than they are on flops like Jh9s7h.

I think the authors have overstated the idea here, but I still like this concept. Most players underestimate the importance of flop texture in sizing their bets, but the authors go too far when they imply that flop texture is the only factor worth considering. Also important are position, stack-sizes, number of opponents, your hand, your table image, and your opponents' tendencies. On the AKK flop, for example, the bet should usually be around 1/4 to 1/2 of the pot. Bets outside this range might sometimes be better if stack sizes are quite small or if your opponents are maniacs, but these are unusual circumstances. On the J97 flop, you should almost never bet less than 3/4 of the pot, and sometimes it will be correct to bet 3/2 of the pot.

The reasons for the different bet sizes on different flops are basically those described in the book's discussion. If you are ahead on a AKK flop, your opponents have little chance to outdraw you, and even if they do, they usually won't be able to make much more from you. They have very little implied odds and very little incentive to call a bet of over 1/4 of the pot unless they have you beat. Similarly, your bluffs should be small on this flop to cover your small value bets. On the J97 flop, however, there are all sorts of draws, meaning that your opponent could easily draw to beat your hand, and if he does, he might be able to win quite a bit more from you. Your opponents are likely to have good implied odds in this situation, and so you must bet more to discourage them from calling. Your bluffs must follow suit.

Another way to look at this is that if you have a made hand on the J97 flop, you can make large value bets without worrying about making your opponents fold, but on the AKK flop, the most you can hope to win is a small bet or two.

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