You must make this play and lose to be a WINNER in poker

Maximizing your profits is one of the most important aspects of live poker, but many newer players seem to struggle with...

Posted Jan 05, 2021

Contributor

Bart Hanson

Bart Hanson

Owner and Lead Pro

Maximizing your profits is one of the most important aspects of live poker, but many newer players seem to struggle with capitalizing on even the easiest of value betting situations. All too often players will be a bit nervous on the river and just take the easy option, checking it back and showing down, to avoid the risk of value-owning themselves against a better hand. Today we’re going to talk about why it is so important to value bet, even when we may only have the best hand around 60% of the time.

Let’s dive into it.

The Concept of Value-Owning Yourself:

One of the bigger fears newer players seem to have is the fear of value-owning themselves by betting for value into the stronger hand of their opponent. This fear doesn’t lack logic either, who wants to lose more money on the river when their opponent was willing to check it down? The problem is that you’re just thinking about how your hand could be beaten by better hands that your opponent could have, instead of looking at your opponent’s range as a whole.

If you want to win a lot of money in no limit and you want to be an extremely good player who wins the maximum, you simply must value-own yourself sometimes. You need to make value bets even when your hand isn’t the nuts or the second nuts, and you just have to be okay with not always having the best hand when called. Think about it, if you only ever value bet when you have the literal nuts, how much money will you win long term? You’ll probably be a losing player, as you’ll be the ‘old man coffee’ at the table who telegraphs his hand every time he bets!

The Timid Nature of Live Poker:

The simple fact is, 80%-90% of live low stakes poker players aren’t value-owning themselves nearly enough. Stuck in timid mindsets revolving around just showing down and winning as many pots as possible, these players fail to realize that far too often they’re missing out on value with hands that are good enough to bet. If you are only making value bets when you have the best hand 90%+ of the time, you are missing a ton of value! You should be making value bets when your hand is good 60%-65% of the time against the range of hands that you think your opponent can call.

If you are value betting when your hand is good 60% of the time, the simple fact is that long term you’ll be making much more money than the player who is only value betting when they’re good 90% of the time. Let’s take a look at an example and see if we should be going for thin value or checking it back.

Example Hand Breakdown:

Hero is on the Button and raised preflop, Villain called in the Big Blind. Hero bet the flop and Villain called, both players checked the turn, and now it’s Hero’s action on the river (Villain checked).

Board: K 6 6 2.

Hero has A A.

test
test

Let’s say that we’ve decided that Villain will call with any 6 and any king in his range. We’ve seen (for the sake of this example) that Villain is an extremely passive player and can have a ton of 6x in his range that didn’t raise the flop and checked all the way to the river, but he can also play the same way with his Kx combos. Let’s break down his range and count the combos.

Villain can have approximately 60 combos of 6x (A6s-76s, 65s, 64s, A6o, K6o)

Let’s say that we’ve decided that Villain will call with any 6 and any king in his range. We’ve seen (for the sake of this example) that Villain is an extremely passive player and can have a ton of 6x in his range that didn’t raise the flop and checked all the way to the river, but he can also play the same way with his Kx combos. Let’s break down his range and count the combos.

Villain can have approximately 60 combos of 6x (A6s-76s, 65s, 64s, A6o, K6o)

Villain can have approximately 110 combos of Kx (K2s-K5s, K7s-KQs, K7o-KQo)

Should we value bet?

If you input this hand into Power-Equilab you’ll see that Hero has around 76% equity against Villain’s range of hands. This means that around a fourth of the time (24%) you’ll end up value-owning yourself, but you’ll still be making money long term every time you bet, because you are betting with a clear equity advantage.

Summary:

Value betting for thin value can be a scary proposition, but it’s a skill that is an inherent part of becoming a winning poker player. If you’re too scared to bet when you may not have the best of it you’ll end up cheating yourself out of money that should have been yours. Especially at low stakes where players are very timid to bet top pair but will snap call you down with it, it’s vital to be able to get the maximum from them when you know they can call you with worse.

If you enjoyed this article and would like to see another example where Bart ended up value-owning himself (correctly), you can watch an in-depth video on the topic by clicking on the link here.

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