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by Bart Hanson |  Published: Sep 19, 2017


July 31 — Five straight boards from out of position get bluffed after the turn is checked through

One of the things that I constantly see at the mid-stakes levels of live no limit is players missing the opportunity to bluff their opponents off of a chop. Usually these good situations arise when the board runs out with a five straight and the player that should bluff is out of position.

Let’s examine a hand that I recently played in at the Commerce Casino’s $5-$10 no-limit game. This spot took place late on a Friday night when the games were very good. My table was typical loose/passive but the villain in the hand was an older professional regular. He plays relatively tight preflop, unless he is tilting, but sometimes has trouble getting away from big hands. As it was common at this table the pot was limped by a couple of players in the field. The villain in the small blind completed and I checked my option with 6Club Suit 5Heart Suit.

The flop came down 6Heart Suit 5Diamond Suit 4Heart Suit giving me top two pair. The small blind checked and I decided to lead out for $35. Both the limpers in the field folded and the villain called. The turn was the 3Diamond Suit bringing out a back door flush draw. I thought that this was an awful card for me, and a good card for my opponent’s range. He checked and I decided to check behind. The river fell the 2Club Suit completing a five straight on the board. My opponent checked to me again and I quickly checked back knowing that I had almost no sevens in my range and that my opponent could credibly represent a straight if I opened the betting up. My opponent tabled 9-6 and we split the pot.

This hand, at the time, was a bit of an afterthought until I realized how much of a mistake my opponent had made by not bluffing the river. Because he called my flop bet he definitely had some sevens in his range. But because I checked back the turn on a double-flush draw board I had very few sevens in mine. If I do not arrive at the river with a straight my opponent loses absolutely nothing by betting as even if I make a hero call we still split. This situation comes up a lot more than people realize.

When you are out of position, have called a flop bet, and the turn brings in what would be an open-ended straight draw, if the action goes check, check on fourth street you have a super profitable bet if the board runs out as a five straight. When you bet your opponent has to lay odds to call you. So if you bet $100 into a $100 pot he has to call $100 to win $50. If you bet larger he has to actually lay larger. This is a familiar concept in big bet split pot games but rarely appears in one-way games.

Let’s take a look at another example where the straight comes in on the bottom end. Say we defend an under-the-gun open from the big blind with JDiamond Suit 10Diamond Suit. The flop comes out 6Club Suit 5Diamond Suit 4Diamond Suit giving us a flush draw. Our opponent is very tight, and when we check to him he makes a decent sized continuation bet that we call. The turn is the 7Club Suit and the action gets checked through. The river comes out a 3Heart Suit. Again, here, we have a profitable bet as it is very unlikely that our opponent has both an eight AND checked back the draw heavy turn. If he is a tighter player he is more likely to have an overpair, or a hand like A-Q or A-K. It would be absolutely criminal for us not to come out and bet this river to try and get our opponent off of a chop.

July 18 — Identify when you can be can represent a stronger range then your opponents.

If you pay close attention to the preflop position and action of your opponents you can sometimes pounce on what people call a “range advantage.”

A few weeks ago I played an interesting hand at the Hollywood Park Casino in Los Angeles. The game was uncapped $5-$10 no-limit and it was 11 am on a Tuesday morning. That meant that the table was relatively passive, straightforward and it was easy to know where I was at in a hand.

Playing eight-handed I opened ASpade Suit 3Club Suit to $30 on the button, $2,000 effective. Both the blinds called and we saw a flop of ADiamond Suit KSpade Suit 8Club Suit. The blinds checked and I decided to check behind. Sometimes I bet this flop due to the button versus blind dynamic (wider ranges). But, because it was three-handed I leaned towards checking.

The turn came the 8Diamond Suit bringing out a backdoor flush draw. The small blind bet out $50 and the big blind the called. At this point I thought there was a good chance one player had an ace and the other an eight, king, or a flush draw. I also thought there was a slight chance I still held the best hand, was getting decent pot odds so I called.

The river came the 2Club Suit, a complete brick, and the small blind now bet out $75. The big blind thought for a while and finally called. At this point the pot was $390 and I was getting very good pot odds. The issue of course was that I was chopping with another ace. I was almost certain that no one had an eight due to the fact that the small blind flat called preflop and the fact that the big blind did not raise the turn or river. These two players were not tricky and specifically I felt like the small blind would bet larger on the river with an eight or A-8. I also thought that either of these players would have reraised preflop with A-K.

So, was there merit to raising the river as a bluff? If I had a hand like K-K could I possibly play it in this manner? I have a tendency not to slow play but my opponents don’t necessarily know that. A lot of players in my spot would check a set of aces or kings on the flop on a non-draw heavy board. When the turn came an eight it did bring in a backdoor diamond draw but it also paired the board. If a player checked back a set on the flop he very well might just flat the turn with a full house allowing the draws to get there.

And the kicker was neither player’s kicker would play if they called a raise, unless they had A-8 or A-K. So a raise almost seemed like a freeroll play. I finally decided it was too good of a spot not to turn my hand into a bluff and raised to $400 enough to make it look like a strong value hand. The small blind took a few moments with it and released and the big blind quickly folded. By the pace of their actions it seemed like my reads were correct – the small blind folded an ace while the big blind was bluff catching with a king. ♠

Follow Bart for daily strategy tips on Twitter @CrushLivePoker and @BartHanson. Check out his poker training site exclusively made for live cash game play at where he produces weekly podcasts and live training videos.