Allowing opponents to valueown themselves

Occasionally bad players accidentally play in an optimal way. One of the things I have noticed over the past few years i...

Posted Dec 03, 2012


Bart Hanson

Bart Hanson

Owner and Lead Pro

Occasionally bad players accidentally play in an optimal way. One of the things I have noticed over the past few years is the propensity for some weak competition to allow their good opponents to value own themselves. When I talk about valueowning I am referring to betting with the worst hand for value.

I have discussed many times in previous articles about how important thin value betting is to increase your win rate. Simply put a value bet is + expected value on the river if when called you are good more than 50% of the time. The better the player the thinner the value better. So how do we counter this type of thin value betting? We allow our opponents value bet weaker hands.

This advice is only applicable in hands against good, capable players. Taking a valueown line does not usually work against average or bad competition because those types of opponents do not value bet enough. I saw this interesting hand go down a few months ago in a $10-25 game. A good, solid pro raised under the gun to $100 and a fishy, recreational businessman called heads up in the big blind. The board ran out K45 rainbow. The businessman check called a $175 bet on the flop. The turn was a 9, completing the rainbow. The businessman again check called, this time a $375 bet. A 2 fell on the river. The businessman paused for a moment and checked once again. The young player thought for a while and finally bet $1000. The businessman snapped called. The pro tabled KJ and the businessman proudly turned over 5 9 for two pair.

Was this a good value bet by the young player? Of course. In reality this businessman had shown that he would call down any amount with top pair and sometimes made big calls with lesser holdings. If I were the preflop raiser I would expect him to usually have a weaker king here, figuring that I would have heard from two pair or a set earlier. Most of the time I would expect to be good when called. However, if the businessman, who had shown that he was not all that aggressive but more of a calling station, had check raised the turn, I would have almost immediately folded as would have the young pro. However, the businessman accidentally took the most optimal line. He did not announce any strength and because he was up against a thin value better ended up making the maximum amount from his hand. If you are a tighter player or you are up against competition constantly going for thin value you can see that allowing people to bet weaker hands for value can be a good game plan. Otherwise if you ever put pressure on the pot good competition will fold. Again it is very, very important to realize that this only applies to good players and for the most part you should play your hands rather straightforward at the lower levels. A detailed explanation of this concept can be found in my new podcast “The Seat Open Podcast” Hands from A Cash Game Volumes 1 and 2 at

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