The world's leading poker book publisher

Being a Bully

07/01/2021 by Jonathan Little
Hand Analysis
D&B MAGAZINE

I was recently told about an interesting situation from a $1/$2 no-limit cash game that illustrates how to take advantage of weak, straightforward players who make their hand’s strength clear with their bet sizes. With $300 effective stacks, a player from middle position limped, as did the cutoff. Our Hero raised to $12 from the button with JT.

While I am fine with raising this decently strong hand from the button, I think both calling and raising larger, perhaps to $16, are also reasonable options. Calling keeps the pot small, often amplifying your postflop advantage (assuming you play well) while raising larger allows you to pick up the preflop pot with no contest more often. When you make it between $8 and $12, you will find that you almost never win the pot preflop, meaning you often have to flop well to have a good shot to win.

While I am fine with raising this decently strong hand from the button, I think both calling and raising larger, perhaps to $16, are also reasonable options. Calling keeps the pot small, often amplifying your postflop advantage (assuming you play well) while raising larger allows you to pick up the preflop pot with no contest more often. When you make it between $8 and $12, you will find that you almost never win the pot preflop, meaning you often have to flop well to have a good shot to win.

Only the cutoff called. The flop came AQ8, giving Hero a flush draw and double-gutshot straight draw. The cutoff bet $10 into the $27 pot.

Most of the time when someone leads on a board that should be excellent for the preflop raiser’s range, they usually have some sort of marginal made hand or a junky draw. Given Hero’s Jack and Ten of spades make it less likely for the opponent to have a draw, he likely has a weak Ace that is betting to try to “find out where it stands”. If you think the opponent will fold an Ace to a flop raise, raising large, perhaps to $50, has a lot of merit. If you think your opponent will essentially never fold top pair, calling makes more sense. That said, when you have a premium draw, taking the aggressive route is rarely wrong because even when your opponent calls, you will still win the pot about 50% of the time.

Hero called. The turn was the (AQ8)-T. Both players checked.

When checked to on the turn, Hero should assume his middle pair is not good, although it will be from time to time when he is against a junky flush draw like 76. The real question is whether or not the opponent will fold an Ace to a turn plus river bet. In my experience, they will as long as you bet large enough, but if you think your opponent plans to call down once he checks the turn, semi-bluffing makes no sense.

The river was the (AQ8T)-Q. The opponent bet $15 into the $47 pot.

At this point, it is highly unlikely that Hero has the best hand. The opponent will have an Ace or Queen essentially every time. In his post-hand analysis to me, Hero mentioned that he has seen his opponent bet small on the river twice with marginal value hands and large on the river once with the nuts. This made Hero think the opponent was much more likely to have an Ace than a Queen (or better made hand).

Hero raised to $60.

I definitely like raising the river more than calling. When you lose to all the marginal made hands in your opponent’s range, calling makes no sense. Hero’s only option is to raise or fold. Hero must now assess whether or not the opponent will fold an Ace to a raise. Some players will always call while others will always fold. If you are confident the opponent will rarely call with an Ace, raising makes a lot of sense. I like Hero’s $60 sizing. It is a substantial amount that will often result in the opponent folding.

The opponent grumbled for a minute about how lucky Hero was to catch your Queen on the river before folding A-2 face-up.