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 headsup.
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 A72 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 QJ or QT. We bet a little smaller to induce those calls and make it $25. The big blind calls. The river is an off suit 7 and our opponent checks again. The pot is $90 and we bet $50. Our opponent tanks for a bit and calls with a Q 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 AJ and raise to $20 from middle position and both the blinds call us. The flop comes out KJ2r. It gets checked to us and we check it back. The turn is the 7♣ 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 J.
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 KK 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.