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by Bart Hanson |  Published: Jan 31, 2018


You should consider backdoor equity when making a continuation bet bluff

A few years ago over at my training site,, I discussed a system that taught players when to continuation bet as a bluff, after being the preflop raiser. I called this system the “C-bet bluffing Matrix” and it involved a number of different factors that one should consider when making a continuation bet (c-bet) as a bluff. I want to further examine one of these factors, backdoor equity, as it is most likely the most important factor in today’s games.

C-betting with backdoor equity means that you should choose to continuation bet boards where you can turn additional equity leading to a profitable double barrel. For example if we have KSpade Suit QSpade Suit on a board of on a 9Spade Suit 8Heart Suit 2Club Suit board we would make a bet with two overcards and a backdoor flush draw. If there was no spade on the flop, we would choose that particular board to check back. Another example would be JHeart Suit 10Heart Suit on a KHeart Suit 5Diamond Suit 2Spade Suit board. Again with one of our flush cards on board and a backdoor straight draw, we would choose to bet — but with no heart on the flop we would choose to check.

Examining the textures and breakdowns of these particular boards keeps us from bluffing too much. If we just blindly c-bet boards that we think are good for our range as the preflop raiser, without any type of frequency selection, then we would definitely be over bluffing. A lot of players understand this concept but also do not choose the right types of cards to double barrel. If we have that KSpade Suit QSpade Suit on 9Spade Suit 8Heart Suit 2Club Suit type of board we certainly are not blindly betting again on the turn if we are called on the flop.

The types of cards that we are looking for on fourth street are spades that give us a backdoor flush draw, and usually an ace. If we had QSpade Suit JSpade Suit instead of KSpade Suit QSpade Suit we would also barrel a king as that would be an over card to top pair to go along with the gutshot straight draw. In most situations when we do bet the flop with backdoor equity we are looking for cards that give us extra equity OR that are scare cards to top pair preferably that do not connect with the board. On 9-8-2 a ten and a jack are overcards to top pair but you have to be cautious about double barreling them as they give a lot of hands that called us on the flop straight draws or two pair.

Let us say we bet on 9Heart Suit 8Spade Suit 2Diamond Suit with KHeart Suit QHeart Suit from the hijack as a continuation bet after both the blinds called our raise preflop. The player in the big blind then calls our flop bet. What is a reasonable range that he may have? Hands like 10-9, 10-8, 7-6, J-10 and 8-7 are all reasonable, along with any pocket pair. You can see that if a ten comes on the turn it improves the overall range of the big blind and we should expect to get called again with a fairly high frequency. So even though we pick up a gutshot and it is an overcard to top pair, a ten is not really the best turn card to barrel again, unless we are planning on triple barreling some run outs. I would most likely only choose the 10Heart Suit to bet again (one out of four possible tens) and check the others.

This keeps us balanced and prevents over bluffing. The same could be said for a Jack, seven, six or a five. All of those cards connect with the big blind’s check calling range. However we would continue to bet if we hit a queen or a king for value, and ace as a bluff. Sometimes we can barrel a disconnected low card like a three or four too. The interesting thing about the three and four falling is that it is unlikely that our opponents will fold the turn so we have to accurately gauge how often a triple barrel would work with different run outs.

This is why suited hands in general are better to raise than unsuited hands. Not only do they give you an equity advantage but also a playability advantage. K-Q suited is exceptionally better than K-Q offsuit in the above example because we can pick up that extra equity and continue to double barrel bluff with the right frequencies. The next time you are considering betting the flop as a bluff really take a look at what cards can improve your hand on the turn. If there are not many (like no backdoor draws) you can put that particular hand and board combination in your checking range. You can always bluff at the pot later if scare cards come or your opponent seems to be disinterested in the pot.

High only hands have very little value in deep stack pot-limit Omaha eight-or-better (PLO8) cash games

Pot-limit Omaha eight-or-better played as a cash game is not a very common form of poker. Of all of the poker variants it perhaps has the LEAST variance and volatility making it hard for bad players to even win within a single session. However, recently PLO8 has been creeping into some big bet mixes. Also, Big O, the five-card variety of PLO8, is gaining more and more popularity and is commonly played up to $5-$10 at the WSOP.

One of the biggest mistakes that I see being made in PLO8 cash games is players coming from a PLO high background playing straight high hands. I’m talking about hands like A-K-Q-J double suited, which in PLO is a super premium hand. However, in PLO8, where a low actually qualifies in 60 percent of all hands (three unpaired cards appearing lower than an eight) the types of boards that connect with these holdings do not get a lot of action. Take for example a board of KHeart Suit QSpade Suit 9Club Suit. In PLO high this is an action board as players will have Broadway cards in their hand. But in PLO8 players tend to have ace and wheel cards as their starting requirements so when you flop a straight with J-10 it is very rare that anyone will call large bets with the exception of if they have a set.

So if no one will fight for these types of boards should we not play high hands since we know we can win when high cards come out? The problem with this thinking is that the low comes out 60 percent of the time and when it appears you are only going for half the pot. So you have the worst of both worlds. No action with no low appearing and only drawing for half the pot with a low present.

On another note one of the easiest ways to tell if a player has experience playing a high low game is to see if they are playing middling cards. Hands like 10-9-8-7 double suited are power run down in PLO high but are pure trash in PLO8. That is because if they make a nut straight there will be low on board, so most of the time they chop. If you make a straight with these middle hands with no low present the hand will be the bottom end of the straight.

There is an exception to playing high hands and that is in PLO8 tournaments or when playing very short. In those cases it’s not terrible to get in bad aces or kings (preferably with a qualifying low) or even a high rundown against a hand like A-2-x-x but that’s only in extreme cases where you can get all the money in preflop and you can see all five cards.

However, if you are just learning the game it is a very easy adjustment to play NO HIGH HANDS at all. You will not be giving up that much and will stay out of trouble. These types of hands in PLO8 will usually lead you to winning a small pot or losing a very large one. ♠

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.