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Poker Strategy With Roy Cooke: Floating Away

Cooke Explains Why Your Hole Cards Aren't Always The Most Important Factor


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In no-limit, sometimes the cards you hold aren’t the most important factor. Sometimes, your ability to outplay your opponent is more important. Making accurate reads, knowing how your opponent will react to given events, and calculating how to exploit the situation creates a lot of extra value.

In an afternoon $2-$5 game at Aria, a tight, predictable player, about $700 deep, opened in middle position for $15. On the button, with $600+, I called with the 8Club Suit 7Club Suit. The small blind folded, and the big blind tossed in the $10. Three-handed, about $45 in the pot.

The dealer flopped the AClub Suit 3Diamond Suit 3Heart Suit, missing me entirely. The big blind checked, and Mr. Predictable-Opener bet $20. I read him for betting virtually 100 percent of his range on that texture of flop. That said, some of his betting range included an ace. Judging from his previous play, I thought he would double barrel any decent ace, and he would check any hand on the turn that didn’t include an ace or better.

However, if I called, since there were no draws on the board, I diagnosed Mr. Predictable-Opener would read me for an ace or better. And if he read me for an ace and didn’t have an ace or better himself, he would check-fold the turn. If that was the case, I could bet and win the pot with a turn bet.

With a 10.5 percent opening raising range, he was about 2:1 against holding an ace on that flop. If I could get above 50 percent turn folds, calling the $20 on the flop and betting $40 when he checked should give me positive expected value. I inflated my odds because there was some risk that he would check and call or raise with an ace or better on the turn. Plus, there was the issue with the big blind, who might hold a calling or raising hand that would lower my call’s equity. However, I’d noticed Mr. BB had lost interest, was patiently waiting to fold, and had made his intent obvious. That reduced my risks, and I called the $20.

Because I don’t have the ability to do complicated math problems in my head at the table, I do the basics and then make a general estimate of any additional risks or value. That methodology keeps my decisions close to accurate, quicker, and easier to process.
The turn came the 6Heart Suit. Mr. Predictable-Opener checked, and I bet $35 into an $85 pot, a wager on the smallish side. I thought that he would fold the non-ace+ segment of his range to any reasonably-sized bet, therefore risking a larger amount would be an unnecessary danger. He mucked, and I took the pot.

These types of float plays tend to work well against predictable opponents. This hand is an example of exploiting a high propensity continuation bettor who tends to check the turn without a hand, a common strategy amongst ABC players. Notice how playing the hand in this manner rather than just raise-bluffing the flop presented me with less risk, but equal reward. That’s because the odds of success on the turn are so great after he checks, whereas if I had raised the flop, I would have made the play with much less information about the strength of Mr. Predictable-Opener’s hand.

Having position is key, and the effective stack sizes need to be suitable. Additionally, any equity your hand has adds value to the play. That’s because when your opponent holds a formidable hand, you can suck out, and your hand will likely be well disguised, adding additional value. Furthermore, this play works only against players who will read your flop call as a strong range and will fold a medium strength hand. If your image is loose, or your opponent can’t lay down an underpair in that spot, the play has lost most of its value.

If you’re not making +EV creative plays like this, you’re missing value and giving up equity to those who are. Take note of your opponents’ tendencies. Between hands think about how you can exploit those tendencies. Which plays can you make that counter the strategy you have observed?

Focusing your mind on these issues will develop a counter-play strategy that will confuse and crush your opponent’s.

And the best thing about it, they’ll never know what hit them! ♠

Roy CookeRoy Cooke played poker professionally for 16 years prior to becoming a successful Las Vegas Real Estate Broker/Salesman. Should you wish any information about Real Estate matters-including purchase, sale or mortgage his office number is 702-376-1515 or Roy’s e-mail is His website is Roy’s blogs and poker tips are at You can also find him on Facebook or Twitter @RealRoyCooke. Please see ad below!

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