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Apr 13th: Be aware that when your bottom two gets counterfeited by top pair pairing this can be a good spot to turn your hand into a bluff

One of the most frustrating things that can happen in big bet hold’em is having an opponent’s overpair in bad shape with two pair and then getting counterfeited on the river. It’s extremely annoying especially when we expected to make a good amount of value on the river. For some reason though, even if players recognize that they are up against a probable better hand, they will just check and give up – not realizing that this very well might be a good spot to turn your hand into a bluff. In reality, especially on non-drawy boards, bottom two that has been counterfeit has no showdown value at all.

Let’s look at the following example. Say a good, tight opener raises from early position to $40 in a $5-$10 no-imit game and we call with 5Spade Suit 4Spade Suit with $2000 effective stacks. The board comes out 10Club Suit 5Heart Suit 4Diamond Suit and our opponent bets $75. We hope that this player has an overpair so we start to build a pot up right away and make it $250.

He calls rather quickly. The turn comes an 8Spade Suit, he checks and we bet $375. Our opponent thinks for a long time and calls. The river is a horrifying TDiamond Suit. Our opponent checks and we check back our worthless two pair. He tables J-J and takes down a nice sized pot.

I’m never a huge fan of bluffing players off of overpairs at the lower levels but sometimes this can be a rare spot to do it. Especially on a non draw-heavy board where top pair has now paired, it’s difficult for our opponent to put us on a hand that he beats. There were no real draws on this flop and now he can’t even beat top pair, although if you think a little bit deeper, and we are a good player, it’s really tough for us to have just trip tens. However, in general, recreational live players are bad hand readers and get scared of boards that actually don’t make a lot of sense.

Of course you can also be counterfeited by another card pairing besides top pair. Say, for example, instead of the ten coming on the river, an eight paired. Now we have the same counterfeited, worthless two pair, but our opponent may be far less likely to fold a hand like K-K, which has now made kings-up on the river. For this same reason, if we actually flopped a set instead of bottom two, we should absolutely bomb the river for value with our full house when checked to, especially if we are almost certain that our opponent has an overpair.

April 18th: As the preflop raiser betting turn and river after checking back flop w 2nd pair or 2nd pair to board is critical to maximize value

We’ve all had it happen to us – we raise with pocket kings, get a few callers and the board comes out with an ace. We dread our luck and proceed with the rest of the hand very cautiously. However, if you watch a really good no-limit player you’ll see that that he finds spots to get thin value in this situation. Usually, this means checking the flop and betting both the turn and the river, especially heads up.

Take for example we raise to $20 UTG in a $5-5 game. It gets folded around to the BB who calls. The flop comes out A-7-2 rainbow. The big blind checks and we decide to check back because it is very difficult to get called by a weaker hand unless there is some sort of crazy history. The turn is a queen, bringing a backdoor flush draw and our opponent checks again. This is a great spot for us to bet. Normally if the big blind checks here after we check back the flop he doesn’t have an ace. There are now several draws that we can get value from as well as a hand like Q-J or Q-T. We bet a little smaller to induce those calls and make it $25. The big blind calls. The river is an offsuit seven and our opponent checks again. The pot is $90 and we bet $50. Our opponent tanks for a bit and calls with a queen and we win a nice little pot.

You see amateur players miss these thin value spots all of the time. The key here was our check on the flop with a medium strength hand, allowing our opponent to make a weaker hand and extracting value from that hand. The same can be said when we flop second pair/good kicker after being the preflop raiser. Let’s say we have A-J and raise to $20 from middle position and both the blinds call us. The flop comes out K-J-2 rainbow. It gets checked to us and we check it back. The turn is the 7Club Suit bringing a backdoor flush draw. It’s checked to us again and we bet $40. The small blind calls. The river pairs the deuce and the small blind checks to us again. This a great spot to bet small and we bet $45. The SB thinks for a while and calls us with a jack.

It is amazing how light people will call down when you show weakness by checking the flop. On the flip side to this you have to be willing to call down much lighter after checking the flop especially when most opponents river betting ranges are completely polarized (big hand or a bluff). If in the above example with K-K our opponent bet the turn, and when the draw bricked out, bet the river we would seriously have to consider calling down as most players aren’t capable of value betting a weak ace. The simple fact that you checked the flop makes your opponents bluffing frequency higher and we must adjust.

April 27th: Live no-limit is 95 percent value betting at the low to mistakes and not bluffing or hero calling.

Whenever I have a new student come to me for lessons they always want to talk about a big bluff that they ran or a big call that they made. I tell them all the same thing – live no-limit is about value betting, not making big plays.

There is only a finite amount of time that one has to study the game away from the table. The best way to spend that time is to practice hand reading and work on maximizing your value against a second best hand. Figuring out an accurate range of your opponents’ holding takes a lot of experience. But the time spent developing these specific skills will win you way more money in the long run as opposed to running elaborate bluffs or trying to figure out when your opponent is bluffing you.

The next time you are at the table pay close attention to the amount of value that other players miss. You’ll see that there is an incredible amount of money left on the table. There is also an incredible amount of extra money that can be won when you can accurately evaluate your opponent’s hand and bet with proper sizing to get paid off by worse.

I cover good ways to achieve thin value and work on these skills in Deuce Plays and Deuce Plays Premium episodes “Hands from a Cash Game.” ♠

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Follow Bart for daily strategy tips on twitter @barthanson. Check out his podcast “Deuce Plays” on and his video training site specifically for live No Limit players— He also hosts Live at the Bike every Tuesday and Friday at 10:30 pm ET at