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Explain Poker Like I’m Five: The Blocker Bet

by Card Player News Team |  Published: Apr 15, 2015


When you’ve played poker for years, it’s easy to forget that technical poker speak may as well be a different language. Many players just picked up a deck of cards for the first time and are wondering what the hell a reverse implied range merge against a large stack to pot ratio is.

Maybe you are new to poker as well and want to start analyzing the game at a deeper level, but the lingo and foreign concepts get in the way. To help, _Card Player_ brings you this brand new series, Explain Poker Like I’m Five.

Every issue, we’ll take on a new term or idea, perhaps one you might come across elsewhere in this very magazine, and we’ll break it down to its simplest components.

The Concept: The Blocker Bet

What Is It?

A bet from out of position designed to control the size of the pot, freeze your opponent, and possibly get a cheaper showdown.

Okay, Now Explain It Like I’m Five

Rather than checking and calling a bet with a marginal hand, I could make a blocker bet of a small amount when first to act and name my own smaller price.

Give Me An Example Or Two

Let’s say you are playing in a standard $2-$5 no-limit hold’em cash game and call a preflop raise of $20 from the big blind holding QSpade Suit JSpade Suit. The flop comes JHeart Suit 5Club Suit 2Diamond Suit rainbow and you check. Your opponent bets $30 and you call. The turn is the 9Diamond Suit and you check once again. Your opponent bets $50 and you call.

The river is the 6Club Suit. Here, you have a good opportunity to place a blocker bet. In your mind, there’s an equal chance your opponent has a better hand than you or is betting a worse hand for value. You could check, but because the pot size is $202, he may fire in a bet of $100 or more, putting you in a difficult situation. Instead, you can make a blocker bet, an amount such as $50 to $60. If he calls and has you beat, then you got to the same showdown that you would have seen by check-calling, but you saved money.

The downside of the blocker bet is that you take away your opponent’s opportunity to bluff or bet more money with a losing hand. Let’s say your opponent had pocket tens in the above example. By making a blocker bet, he may fold and you lose the money he would have value bet or bluffed off on the river.

You can also use a blocker bet on an earlier street when holding a drawing hand. In that same game, you call another late position raise of $20 from the blind holding 9Club Suit 8Club Suit. The flop is AClub Suit QClub Suit 4Diamond Suit and you check. Your opponent bets $30 and you call.

The turn is the 2Spade Suit. You could check call once again, hoping to hit your flush on the river, but here’s another opportunity for the blocker bet. Your opponent, if checked to, would likely bet $50 or more on the turn. Instead, you can bet $30 to $40. Your opponent may fold, but if not, you have now successfully seen the river for a cheaper price and also disguised your hand should you make it on the river.

The blocker bet should be reserved for your drawing hands and marginal hands. You shouldn’t use the blocker bet when you think you have the best hand and your opponent will call with worse. Generally, you should use the blocker bet against aggressive opponents who tend to make big continuation bets and barrel on multiple streets. ♠