Owner and Lead Pro
Professional Cash game trainer Bart Hanson has been producing strategy content for over fifteen years. He first started on Live at the Bike! back in 2005, then moved on to host "Cash Plays" on Poker Road, then "Deuce Plays" on Deuces Cracked and then to CrushLivePoker in 2012.
In his career as a professional poker player, Bart Hanson has:
-6 WSOP Final Tables
-Over 15 years of experience at the table
-Over $1,000,000 in tournament earnings
-Multiple appearances on ESPN and Poker Night in America
-4th place finish in 2019 WSOP Monster Stack
The pace of your opponents turn call will often times give away the strength and value of his hand @CrushLivePoker
The pace of your opponents turn call will often times give away the strength and value of his hand
One of the most common situations that occurs in No Limit Holdem is after, with the betting lead, an opponent check calls your flop bet and then checks to you on the turn when a front door draw completes. A lot of people get lost in this situation and they check behind by default because they are scared of the draw or for pot control. But like another article that I wrote last year explained your opponent has a lot more top pair types of hands combination wise in their range than draws especially when the top card is high and you hold an overpair.
Let us take a look at an example of a hand that I played a few weeks ago at $5-10NL in Los Angeles. The pot got folded around to me preflop and I looked down at A♣ A♦ in the cutoff. I opened to $35 and only the big blind called. The flop came out K♠ 5♦ 4♦ and the big blind checked. I made a continuation bet for value of $55 and the big blind quickly called. The turn brought the 8♦, one of the most draw completing cards in the deck. The big blind checked again and I pondered my options. Should I check behind here, scared of a flush or a straight? Well, this idea is pretty illogical unless I was going to fold to a bet on the river, no matter what came, or value bet when checked to at the end. However, I still thought that I could get two streets of value from a king, especially with a diamond kicker, so I decided to bet again and carefully study my opponent. A lot of times a player will look back and check his cards when the third of a suit comes out to check to see if he has a flush draw. Other times you may not see a player check at all which to me is indicative of him having an actual made hand that he does not need to check, like in this case a straight or a flush. Other times of course people feign like they are checking their cards when they have the nuts so you have to pay close attention to this. In this case the player did check his cards and called again. The river brought a blank and he check called about a 2/3 pot size bet and I won a nice pot with my AA.
Now anybody can win a decent size pot with an overpair versus a top pair type of hand but what about when you are bluffing? Should we be paying attention to the same type of things in the way that our opponent calls the turn? Absolutely! In another hand I played from that session I opened the pot on the button to $30 with A♥ Q♥ and the big blind called. The flop came out K♣ 9♦ 2♣ and the big blind checked. I thought that this was a pretty good board to make a continuation bet bluff of $45 and I was prepared to fire again on the turn due to the dynamics of the hand (button vs blind) headsup. In other situations I might only plan on firing one time on this board but I thought my opponent could be rather wide in this situation. The turn put out the 3♣ and my opponent checked once again. Now some people might think that I should shut down at this point. I cannot beat a king and now the flush draw came in. However, I thought this player might fold a nine if I bet again and I did not want to give him a free card with a gutshot broadway draw and a random club so I fired $115.
This is a great example of watching the way in which my opponent calls the turn. If he paused, looked at his cards and thought for a while I would have thought that his “ranged was capped” at a K, with or without a flush draw. And if the river rolled off a disconnected non-club and I fired huge I thought it would really be difficult for him to call with a hand like KT. However, in this situation the player never looked back at his hand. He actually did not take too much time with it and called again. This should have really sent warning bells off in my head. The river rolled off the 6♠ and once again the big blind checked. Stupidly, not taking my own advice about accurately noticing turn calling tells, I thought that if I overbet bombed the river he would not call with a king. So I fired out $575, an over pot sized triple barrel bluff, something I rarely ever do at this level. My opponent paused for a moment and said “how much?” and quickly called. I knew before he even turned over his hand that he had a flush.
I really blew it in this spot even if my assumption was correct that he would have folded a single paired king. I should have paid closer attention to the fact that he did not check back at his hand after the turn, usually indicating a hand like two pair plus, not needing to check to see if he hand a flush draw kicker with top pair.
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