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Four Plays I Make Frequently

by Ed Miller |  Published: Jan 22, 2014

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Ed MillerLast issue I wrote about some plays that other players make that I never make. This time I flip it around. These are plays that I make frequently that I see other players use less often.

Preflop Reraises From The Blinds

Ok, I know I’m not the only one out there reraising from the blinds. But few players in my games do it quite as often as I do.

In fact, I talk to a lot of players who rarely reraise when they are in the small or big blind. Most frequently, these players say they don’t want to build a big pot out of position. They’d rather just call and see a flop.

In my opinion, this thinking is backwards. Reraising is one of the most powerful plays you can make to protect your blinds and negate your opponent’s positional advantage.
I use this play most frequently (by far) against an opponent who has raised from late position in a blind-stealing or limper-punishing situation. Let’s say it’s a $5-$10 no limit hold’em game, and everyone has folded to the cutoff or button, who opens for $30. Or let’s say that two players limp in and then the button (an aggressive player) raises to $50.

In either of these situations, I’ll likely reraise approximately 15-to-20 percent of my hands. That means I’m reraising the obvious hands like Q-Q and A-K. But I’m also reraising a whole lot of other hands — stuff like 4-4, A-4 suited, K-7 suited, and so forth. For the most part, my “junk” reraise hands will be either small pocket pairs or suited hands — hands like J-3 offsuit are a fold no matter what.

These reraises are critical, because without them, good players can profitably attack your blinds with 100 percent of hands. If you don’t reraise very much, then your choice is either to fold too much preflop and just let the button have your blind equity or to call with most hands and then be too weak on most flops.

Reraising roughly 20 percent of the time lets you fold more of the junk preflop while still protecting your blind interest.

Mini Bets On The Turn

I make mini-turn bets all the time in position, but I rarely see other players do the same. Here’s the situation. Your opponent bets the flop, and you call. Then the turn comes a blank, and she checks. Very frequently I make a mini-bet here.

The logic is simple. When my opponent bets the flop and checks a blank turn, most of the time she’s planning to just give up against a bet. Rarely, she may be lining up a check-raise. It would be uncommon on many boards for an opponent to take this line with a hand like a strong top pair or two pair.

The main idea, however, is that I expect my opponent to play with a high fold percentage in this situation. Thus, I want to bet as many hands as I can get away with to force all the folds. Any time I want to bet a lot of hands, I’d like to shade my bet size small to protect myself.

So here’s how I’d frequently play this situation.

Someone opens for $30 from two off the button, and I call on the button. The big blind calls also. There’s $95 in the pot.

The flop comes QHeart Suit 9Spade Suit 3Heart Suit. The big blind checks, the preflop raiser bets $80. I call, and the blind folds. There’s $255 in the pot.

The turn is the 4Club Suit. The preflop raiser checks. This is a situation I might bet as little as $60 and do it with most of my hands. (I might also bet a small subset of my hands for a larger amount — say $200.)

My opponent might do a double-take at the small bet size, but typically I get over 50 percent folds against this bet. At this folding frequency, it’s clearly profitable to make this bet holding any two cards.

River Overbets

These are another of my favorites. The time to consider one of these is any time an opponent has capped the strength of his hand range by failing to bet or raise on the turn. On certain board types, a failure to bet or raise on the turn nearly rules out hands better than a certain strength (typically top pair). If the river doesn’t complete too many draws, it’s quite likely that your opponent has just one pair. An overbet on the river turns your opponent’s entire range into bluff-catchers. Typical live no-limit players react to these bets by folding too often. Against many players, you can bluff in these situations with near impunity.

For example, say you make it $30 preflop, and a player calls from the big blind. There’s $65 in the pot.

The flop comes QHeart Suit 8Spade Suit 2Club Suit. Your opponent checks, and you check.

The turn is the 9Heart Suit. Your opponent checks, you bet $60, and he calls. There’s $185 in the pot.

The river is the 3Diamond Suit. Your opponent checks. It’s a good situation to consider betting $300, $400, or possibly even more.

The turn card puts a flush draw on board and also creates the possibility of a four-card straight arriving with a jack or ten. Most players with a strong hand would either bet or check-raise the turn. The line of checking the flop and then check/calling the turn serves to cap your opponent’s range to hands no stronger than perhaps Q-J.

When the river bricks, the vast majority of the time your opponent will be stuck with a weak pair. On the other hand, you could have J-10, you could have 9-9, you could have Q-Q, you could have Q-9, or perhaps even some other strong hands.

If you bluff in situations like these, you will likely find that your opponents fold too frequently.

Flop Calls

If we’re heads-up to the flop, it’s hard to get me to fold to a continuation bet. Most players still continuation bet too frequently. When someone bets at almost every opportunity, it means that they usually have junk. Many players also frequently bet half-pot, which offers me 3-to-1 on a call. It’s hard to find many hands I want to fold getting 3-to-1 when my opponent likely has junk.

I call a lot. Some people give the calls with marginal hands special names like “floating” or “reverse floating.” I used to think of my flop calls this way too, but I don’t anymore, because these names imply that I’m making a “play” when I call. Instead, I’m usually calling just because the price is cheap and I still have a good chance to win the hand.

I call flops a lot. I raise continuation bets frequently also. What I don’t do very often, however, is fold. ♠

Ed’s brand new book, Poker’s 1%: The One Big Secret That Keeps Elite Players On Top, is on sale now at notedpokerauthority.com. Find Ed on Facebook at facebook.com/edmillerauthor and on Twitter @EdMillerPoker.