You can sometimes over bet the turn to add maximum fold equity
The act of over bet bluffing, especially on earlier streets before the river, is somewhat of a lost art. We often talk about situations where it can be correct to bet the turn as a bluff only if you continue on with your bluff on the river and other situations where continuing to bluff the river after your opponent called the turn would be considered spewy. But what if we could actually add max fold equity on the turn and sometimes force our opponent to shove or fold due to stack sizes? This line can actually risk less money in the long run than making standard bet sizes on the turn and the river and can achieve the same rate of success.
Let us take a look at a hand I played at the Commerce Casino recently in the $5-10 no limit game. In this particular spot my opponent started with $1200 and I covered him. The villain in second position open for a raise to $35, MP2 called, I called on the button with 5♠ 6♠ and the big blind also called. The board came out K♣ 3♣ 4♦ giving me an open ended straight draw. Everyone checked to me and I decided to bet out $100. I thought that it was extremely unlikely that the preflop raiser would check a strong hand like top pair here due to the nature of the draw heavy board and the player to his left in middle position was also unlikely to hold a strong hand due to his checking. The only player whose hand strength was entirely unknown was the big blind (due to the fact that almost everyone automatically checks to the raiser, but he quickly folded to my bet, which was obviously a good thing for me. Unfortunately, the preflop raiser thought for a bit and called. The other opponent in middle position got out of the way.
In this spot I think it is fairly easy to read my opponents’ range. A lot of players will bet a king but will check medium strength showdown hands like a pair of nines and higher. Because the big blind did not call my flop bet and the other player showed no interest in the pot many players would continue on with a hand weaker than top pair. Knowing this, I had a decision to make if I bricked out on the turn. Should I
1. Bet again and if called give up if the river does not improve me
2. Bet again and if called bluff the river if the river does not improve me
3. Check and take a free card.
4. Over bet the turn forcing my opponent to either move all-in or fold
Firstly I think that choosing option three would not be a great play because there is always going to be a fair amount of fold equity against flop check-callers that are just “one and done’ing” you.
Option one has some merit because you very well might convince yourself that after your opponent calls two barrels that he is not going to fold on the river. This would likely be due to the fact that he puts us on a club draw and recognizes that so few people bet one pair for three big streets of value especially in large pots. We also may have incorrectly read his hand and he is actually pot controlling a hand like a king, which he does not intend to fold given our line.
Option two also has some merit if you think an opponent is capable of calling the turn and then folding on the river when the board does not change. If you have read my material in other CardPlayer articles you know that I am actually a big fan of calling turn bets and then check folding rivers when the board does not change because the mere fact that our opponent has bet again IS change enough. I call this the concept of playing “fifth street chicken” on my live training site CrushLivePoker.com.
But this article is about option four. With the pot being $340 and our opponent having a little over $1000 left what if we were to bet $500 on a non-king turn? This would basically force our opponent into an all-in or fold situation given the pot size and his stack. Also, if you compare this bluffing spot to standard bet sizing in option two you can see that $500 here actually risks less than betting $200 on the turn, followed by $500 on the river—or if we get frisky an al- in on the river. This type of situation becomes somewhat more complex when you have a draw that has enough equity to call an all-in, however.
But there can be other scenarios where both players are deep enough your opponent does not really have the option of an all-in. In these types of spots you do not have to worry about getting raised off of your draw as much and the same concept of maximum pressure due to over betting still applies.