Saturday, November 11, 2006

Inducing Bets

Bet induction. To me it sounds like something that my car does that the body shop would probably charge me $250 to repair in order to get my state inspection sticker. But in reality, being able to induce my opponents to put more chips into the pot when I've got a good hand is one of the most important skills for a regular no-limit holdem player to develop and master. You get good cards and hit the board well so infrequently in these games, it is just absolutely crucial to make the most out of the few big hands you're likely to be dealt, say, during a large multi-table tournament.

As I've written about several times before here at the blog, the #1 way I find to make your average online poker opponent commit chips to the pot when you have a good hand is to bet and raise (as opposed to checking as a slowplay), but to make bets and raises that do not scream out that you're strong. We all play with those clowns who just pushmonkey all their chips into the middle before the flop whenever they have pocket 10s or better. For the most part, that is clearly not the most effective means of getting paid off bigtime on your big hands. In that case, most of the time everyone will fold to you, and you end up winning the blinds plus whatever small additional amount of chips were in the pot. My suggestion is to use a bit more finesse and a bit more deception -- as I always say, I focus hard on telling a consistent, believable story to my opponents -- one they will want to believe and that I've given them every reason to believe -- and then try to convince them through my actions that my hand is decent, but not so great. That I have found is the most effective way of getting people to pay me off with big hands in the large mtt's available online, and it tends to work very well.

For example, here's a hand from early on in a $20 mtt on pokerstars, where I find a huge hand and put in a nice-sized checkraise from early position before the flop, even with one limper, a raiser and a caller of that raise already in from UTG:

Just the original preflop raiser (cheddardick) called my big reraise here, and the flop came out a raggy 653 with two of a suit. No way I'm putting this clown on a hand that hits with this flop at all. So I am about as sure as one can be that I am ahead here, and I'd love to get my opponent to push with whatever it is he has that justified him raising 2 limpers preflop as well as his calling my preflop check-reraise once everyone else had folded. So what's the best way to accomplish this here? The pot is 1005 chips, and I have 1215 chips left in my stack, while my opponent holds 1435 more chips himself. So I know I can just push here, it is around the size of the pot and so it won't look too out of line to do that. But if I do, and let's say my opponent has pocket 9s, or AKs -- just the kinds of hands he could have to justify his actions so far, and just the kinds of hands I want him to have at this point. If he's sitting on 9s or AK or something similar, he may well be likely to fold to an allin bet from me that requires him to commit the rest of his chips early on in a large mtt, when he has nothing (in the case of AK), or just a middle pocket pair (the 9s) when I could have a higher pocket pair, trips, etc. So I want to avoid making the allin push here, as I do not see that move maximizing my expectation for this hand.

Instead, I want to get some more chips in the pot -- not give a free card, where say an Ace could fall and ruin my pocket Kings completely, but get a bit more chips into the pot -- while also at the same time giving a subtle impression of weakness. Whereas I have no confidence that my opponent will call an allin push from me on this flop with a good but not great hand like the 9s or AK we discussed above, I instead want my opponent to see a smallish bet from me, conclude from my bet that he must be ahead, and therefore have him push allin on me. That's the goal here, and nothing less. I want to make the bet that convinces him to push, since I don't think he is nearly as likely to call my push bet if I throw that at him now.

So, take a look at this bet here:

380 chips, into a 1005-chip pot. So here I'm getting some more chips involved in the hand, but at the same time, my opponent with hopefully a semistrong hand sees a guy betting just over a third of the pot at him, and he starts thinking he's got to be ahead. Why would I only bet a third of the pot here, after the huge reraise preflop? Then my opponent will think I must have something decent to have raised preflop, but something that for whatever reason is scared by this flop. Maybe I have AK or AQ and was just making a move with two high cards preflop. Whatever it is, give most online players a few seconds to stew over a bet like this, and more often than not here is the result:

He responded by raising me allin, which I of course quick-called, and the rest is history.

Similarly, in the Bad Beat on Cancer tournament from last month, when I flopped top two pairs with my A9 on a board of A93 with two suited cards, and my opponent bet out 600 chips or 2/3 the pot at me, I opted to go with this raise, rather than a smooth call and rather than pushing allin here with my hand that was fairly certain to be ahead at this point:

While that was a good-sized raise in terms of actual chips that it added to the pot, given our relative stack sizes my raise stood out more almost for the fact that I did not want to go allin as it did for the absolute size of the raise. My opponent (holding AQ in the end, it turns out) did not believe I was on AK, and thus called my 1500-chip bet, and then called this bet again after a King fell on the turn, mostly because he was set up by my only semi-strong raise on the flop:

and he even called this bet on the river, a crying call on his part to be sure:

Again I like to think that this player ultimately made these calls because he figured he was likely ahead because many (most) people online would have pushed allin on that flop if they held AK or better. So he is holding AQ, and he wants to believe already that he's ahead, so when I put in a raise that does not seem like the raise of one who has caught top two pairs on the flop, in his own mind he is already committing all his chips to the pot. This is one way that I find to take advantage of players who can be fooled into thinking I'm weaker than I am, and thus to give me all or most of their chips in situations where they would not otherwise have paid me off, at least not to the degree that they do after getting a little "nudge" from me in the form of semistrong or semiweak-looking bets. I never underestimate the power of one weakish bet, even as early as on the flop, to get an opponent mentally committed to moving in his entire stack because I've convinced someone that they are likely ahead.

Have a good weekend everyone. I look forward to my Philadelphia Eagles making mincemeat out of the pathetic Redskins this Sunday in Philly, and then next week is FTOPS time baybeeee!


Blogger Iakaris aka I.A.K. said...

I think there is a real potential to confuse your opponents by oscillating between this tactic and the overbet for value.

Nice post. Here's to one of us taking down a seat to Event 4.

10:20 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home