Checking back top pair

As more of the money in poker has switched over to big bet games often times you will see limit players making the trans...

Posted Jan 12, 2013


Bart Hanson BW2

Bart Hanson

Owner and Lead Pro

As more of the money in poker has switched over to big bet games often times you will see limit players making the transition to No Limit. Usually you can spot these players because they buy in for the minimum and have absolutely no clue about correct bet sizing. The concept of way ahead way behind escapes them. They also constantly make bad decisions preflop as they do not understand the necessary stack depth needed to call with implied odds types of hands (suited connectors) AND they also under value certain hands that are strong in No Limit like small pocket pairs.

Since checking top pair is almost always a crime in limit hold’em you can sometimes play hands backwards against these types of players in order to extract multiple streets of future value from their weak hands. Let us say, for example, you raise with Q T from the button to $20 in a $5-$5 game. A limit hold’em player, waiting for his $20-$40 game, calls from the big blind. This is another tell tail sign of a transitional player, by the way, defending his blinds way too often. The board runs out Q 2 6. The blind checks and you decide to check behind. The turn is a 3, he checks again and this time you bet out $30, he calls. The river is a 9. He checks to you again and you bet $75. The blind reluctantly calls with A 2 and you scoop a nice pot of almost forty-five big blinds.

Why did this opponent, who knows nothing about you, decided to call you down so light? It is simple, because you checked the flop. Limit players cannot comprehend why someone would not bet with top pair especially on a draw heavy board and simply think that you are bluffing on later streets. I see this time and time again. They do not realize that you actually have won more money by checking back the flop because it has induced them to call you down light on the turn and on the river. This is one aspect of the game that takes a long time for an experienced limit player to understand. Because the betting structure is no limit we can actually make up for some lost value later on in the hand something that you rarely have the opportunity to do in limit. Now obviously you should not take this advice too far. When you are playing against someone with deeper stacks and you have a strong hand you must “spike” the pot so that you can bet larger later on to make the most amount of money. This is another concept that the inexperienced player has difficulty understanding. The deeper the stacks the less “trapping” should go on and the more betting for value should be done with the best hand.

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