Opponents checking after aggresive action

If you are a serious poker player you know how much of an advantage it is to have position especially in big bet games...

Posted Jan 08, 2013


Bart Hanson BW2

Bart Hanson

Owner and Lead Pro

If you are a serious poker player you know how much of an advantage it is to have position especially in big bet games. Books like the original Super System taught us that when our opponents checked that they were weak and that the pot was ripe to be taken away. 

Through the years, however, people have started to understand the concept of way ahead way behind. They realize that if they three or four bet from out of the blinds with KK that it is going to be tough to be called by worse if they continuation bet an ace high board. So when the pot gets bloated by your opponent preflop and then they follow that action up by checking the flop that does not necessarily mean that they are going to check fold. In fact a lot of the time when a player makes an aggressive action and then checks he has every intention of check calling. 

The same can be said when a preflop raiser continuation bets the flop on a ragged board and then follows up with a check on the turn when a card comes that should hit their preflop raising range. Let us take a look at an example. Let us say that in a $5-$5 game with $1000 effective stacks we call a $25 raise with 9 7 in position. We are heads-up and the board comes out 6 5 4. Our opponent bets $40 and we call. The turn brings the K. Our opponent now checks. What should we do? In order to evaluate our best action we have to put our opponent on a reasonable range. What types of hands would he bet this type of ragged flop with and then check the turn? If our opponent is any type it player he should have some sort of hand with reasonable showdown value. If he has no showdown value than he should almost always use this over card as a good double barrel-bluffing card. So the fact that he doesn't means that he must have something. I actually discuss this specific hand and delve deeper into this concept in my podcast Seat Open episode “My Mistakes”.

Another common example of a player not intending to check fold is when they are the preflop raiser and a flop comes out unconnected with one high card. Let us say that we have called a raise with 4 5, with position and the preflop raiser checks a K 7 2 board. Is this the type of flop that we should try and steal? What do you think our opponent has? Well, if he had a hand like AQ, or AJ, he would most likely try to represent like he had something with the king on the flop. So when he checks it is much more likely that he has a hand with medium strength showdown value like QQ, or JJ. Just because he checks does not mean that he is going to fold. In fact I would almost guarantee in most cases that when a preflop raiser checks a board like this he has every intention of continuing on. What is different, however, is a board like AKQ. There you might want to take a stab at it after being checked to because you do not expect hands like AK or AQ to check and you most likely will get a hand like JJ, TT or any other pocket pair to fold.

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