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FAQ Perceived strength and honesty
Scare cards Points of honesty Exercises

8 10
12 12 14

The continuation bet

Let board texture be king Final notes Exercises

16 17 18

Ranges and bet sizes

Actual strength of range and bet size - The Value Bet Conjuctures - The Bluff Catching Conjectures - Positional awareness Words on balance

21 23 23 24 24

Range types and their behaviour

Elastic and inelastic ranges - To bluff or not to bluff - The Elasticity Conjectures (TEC)

26 28 28

Capped range Exercises

30 32

Dry flops as the preflop raiser

When our perceived strength is good or better - Strong made hands: TPGK or better - Made hands: TPNK - strong 2nd pair - Weak made hands and air When our perceived strength is okay or poor - Strong made hands: TPGK or better - Weak made hands and air

33 34 36 37 38 38 39

Wet boards as the preflop raiser

The Plans - Versus aggressive players - Versus passive players - Versus good players Bluffing when a draw gets there Exercises

42 42 44 45 46 48

the preflop calling range In position as the preflop caller

- Fit or fold players - Players with a polarized c-betting range

49 51
51 51

Bluff raising Exercises

51 53

Out of position as the preflop caller

The donk Donking the turn Check-raising the flop Check-raising the turn Exercises

55 57 58 58 60

Fine tuning the 3-bet

A starting point - General comment on bet sizing - A word on trash - Possible adjustments - Things to consider Players who fold a lot to 3-bets - Bet sizing - Postflop play Players who call a lot of 3-bets - Bet sizing - Postflop Exercises

61 62 62 62 63 63 67 67 67 68 68 70

Defending against 3-bets

4-bet bluffing Calling 3-bets - Adjusting to the situation - Postflop play Exercises

71 72 72 73 76

Developing Reads
VPIP and PFR Flop and turn - Low c-bet percentage - High c-bet percentage Check-raise tendencies - Players with a balanced check-raise range The River Taking Notes Exercises

77 78 78 79 80 81 81 82 84

The Cinema
- Playing as the preflop raiser - Adjusting the preflop calling range. - Playing 3-bet pots

85 86 87

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A fundamental question - if not the fundamental question - we have to ask ourselves in poker is: Why do people fold? Definition Perceived strength ~ actions + texture + position + image + level

Perceived strength and honesty

Actions When we bet, raise or re-raise our perceived strength goes up. The preflop raiser is perceived to have a stronger range than the preflop caller. Texture If we are the preflop raiser and there are high cards on the flop, our perceived strength goes up. Position Early position adds to our perceived strength since we are expected to raise with a stronger range of hands.

Image If we have been c-betting a lot and have been caught bluffing our perceived strength goes down. So, based on our actions, the board texture, our position, our image and villains level we can in a sense calculate our perceived strength. The better our perceived strength, the more plausible our line looks. Perceived strength is the strength of our perceived range. Obviously it is not easy, if at all possible, to make any exact calculations since we have incomplete information, so estimates will have to do. You can freely choose how you prefer to mentally represent perceived
Perceived strength and honesty

Level If the villain knows that this is a bad board to c-bet as a bluff and we still c-bet our perceived strength actually goes up.


strength. The words you use are not important but it is important that you actively do think about it when you play. I personally like to use words like: Excellent Good Okay Poor

The better our perceived strength the more bluffs we can have in our range. The reason is simply that it is - in most cases - difficult for the other player(s) in the pot to play back at us often enough in order to make our bluffs -EV since we are telling a very plausible story.

Let us say that we open in early position and we get called by the player on the button who happens to hold pocket nines. The flop comes AJ4 rainbow. Our perceived strength on this board texture is excellent, and if we fire a c-bet there is a good chance that the preflop caller will fold. He might peel one but there is a high chance that he will fold. Pocket nines cant be too happy on that flop. If we change the board texture a little, so that it becomes A74 rainbow, our perceived strength is no longer excellent. It is just good and pocket nines are looking a little better. Many players will call and re-evaluate on the turn when holding pocket nines. If we change the board texture one more time to say 742, there is no chance that the preflop caller will fold pocket nines to one bet. Obviously the preflop caller will not fold if he connected with the board, but since this is No Limit Holdem and nobody ever has anything, this is of less relevance. The conclusion is that there is a connection between our perceived strength and how likely it is that the preflop caller will fold his hand.

The motivation for introducing the concept of perceived strength is to make the thought process smoother. It is much easier to think, My perceived strength is very good than to think, My perceived range
Perceived strength and honesty


hits the board texture hard, so when I bet I can represent a lot of strong hands. Here perceived range is the image the other player has formed in his head based on the actions you have taken so far. I often hear people say that they will fire again on any scare card on the turn. This may or may not be a good strategy against the other player in the hand. We are assuming that we know which cards we can use to scare the villain.

Scare cards

Definition A Scare card is a card where our perceived strength goes up.

In mid stakes poker there are fewer scare cards on turn than there used to be. The problem is that on the turn the scare cards are often very obvious and therefore much less scary. Furthermore, many players will actually check on scare cards with their medium strong hands way too often. This means that they polarize their range when they do bet, since they either have a bluff or a very strong hand.

This may sound a little paranoid but the point Im trying to make is that scare cards should be part of a tailored strategy, and not just auto bluff cards. Later we will identify when we should be using scare cards as scare cards. Every poker player has spots in his game where he tends to become honest. This honesty is often a result of the reactions of the other players at the table but it can also be a result of his natural style.

Points of honesty

Definition A point of honesty is a situation where a player will only continue to put money into the pot with a strong hand.

Preflop most players tend to become honest when they are 4-bet. In other words they are not 5-bet bluffing or defending light often enough that we need to be taking it into account. The situation we create when we 4-bet is an example of a point of honesty for the villain.
Perceived strength and honesty


Assumption The better our perceived strength is in a given situation the more likely it is that the same situation is a point of honesty for our opponent. Postflop most players have points of honesty deeply integrated into their style. When we are making a plan for our hand it can be a great help if we can define when we expect villain to become honest. In other words we can ask ourselves, Where is villains point of honesty on this board texture? Our answer will depend on: 1. The villain in the hand. 2. What our hand looks like if we call, bet or raise. A simple illustration is a double barrel on a dry flop. When we c-bet it looks like we have top pair or better, but everybody c-bets dry flops so we get called by a lot of second pair type hands. When we fire again on the turn it really looks like we have top pair or better. Our perceived strength increased when we bet the turn and it is very likely that our opponent will fold most of his second pairs on the turn. Unless he thinks that it is very likely that we are bluffing there is no reason for him to bluff catch again. When we are the preflop caller we should adjust our calling ranges both preflop and postflop to villains expected points of honesty.

In general it is better to have outs than marginal showdown value against an aggressive player. The reason is that, on a lot of turns, we will find ourselves in a spot where both folding and calling are potential big mistakes - we would play the hand in a very different way could we see villains cards.

Perceived strength and honesty


1. One way of getting used to actively think about perceived strength is to watch a video where you classify every flop.


What is the perceived strength of the preflop raiser on that board texture? When you do expect the players in the hand to reach a point of honesty? 2. The next step is to play a short session of roughly 15-30 minutes where you play without looking at your cards. Turn off the HUD too. Your strategy will be to play every hand in late position and c-bet when you think your perceived strength is good enough. There are various tools that can cover your cards.

Perceived strength and honesty


Okay, so we raised preflop, got called, and here comes the flop. This is likely to be the most common spot we will find ourselves in our career as a poker player. Therefore it is insanely important that we have a good understanding of what we are doing, and why we are doing it. Otherwise we will be making the same small mistakes over and over again. In short, bleeding money. Value We have a made hand, there are worse made hands that can call us and there are virtually no cards in the deck which will give us the second best hand. Villain would not call if he could see our cards.

The continuation bet

We will approach this problem by first breaking down the continuation bet. The goal is to find some words for our thought process.

Value/Protection We have a made hand and there are worse made hands and draws that can call us so there are cards that can come on the turn that will either kill our action or give us the second best hand. Semi-bluff We dont have showdown value but there are cards in the deck that can help us to make the best hand. We bet because we want to take the pot down.

How much we are betting for value and how much we are betting for protection depends on our actual hand, the board texture and the other players in the pot.

When we know what the purpose of our continuation bet is, it is often a lot easier for us to make a plan for the turn and river. The most obvious
The continuation bet

Bluff We have little to no showdown value and there is close to no hope for our hand. We bet because we want to take the pot down. 15

example is when we are betting for value/protection on the flop, and so a c-bet on a blank turn card becomes a bet for protection most of the time. We are only getting value if villain is willing to call a rather big bet on the turn thinking that he has implied odds. I will actually argue that a 100% c-bet strategy is a winning strategy at ssnl and msnl, as long as we know what we are trying to achieve on the flop and have a clear plan for the turn and river; that said I dont think it is the optimal strategy. The story we would be telling is simply not plausible enough and the other players would start to float and bluff raise us often enough to make it only a marginal winning strategy. One often overlooked reason for betting the flop is that it narrows the range of hands that the preflop caller sees the turn with. If we check/ call the flop we have no idea what hand the preflop caller holds, and what cards may improve him. We will look deeper into this when we look at elastic ranges.

When our perceived strength is good and we c-bet, we are telling a story that is very plausible and the preflop callers will have a tough time playing back at us often enough to make it a losing strategy; simply because their brain is telling them that our line looks plausible.

Let board texture be king

On board textures where our perceived strength is poor I generally expect to get played back at more frequently; even with a strong over pair we are still not thrilled about playing a big pot out of position. In aggressive games, where we get played back at frequently, we are therefore forced to bluff less. Against a good player we have to make one more adjustment and that is to balance our flop play by check/calling and check/raising. Otherwise our lines become too transparent.

But balancing our flop play only makes sense when we are playing against players who will use their positional advantage well and also players who are way too aggressive when checked to. In a way we swap
The continuation bet


initiative with position on the flop.

Notice that the checks are different checks. Sometimes we are trapping and sometimes we are trying to get our hand to showdown. In general we can check for:

Pot control We figure that we have the best hand most of the time but we are not ready to get raised, we expect a bet to mostly get called by better hands and we dont mind giving a free card. Equity protection We have a fair amount of equity in the pot but we cannot stand a raise and we expect the other player in the pot to raise us with pure bluffs, semi-bluffs and strong made hands. Deception We have a strong hand and we are going for a check/raise or a check/call. Give up We have nothing and are not planning to bluff.

I want to stress that we should design a c-betting strategy for each player as we develop reads on them. This has been a standard strategy in HU for a long time and should be standard for every good 6-max player too.

Final notes

Before you fire that c-bet on the flop try to have a plan for the turn (and river) as well. I personally always ask myself how big a pot am I willing to play.

The continuation bet


1. Watch a video were you classify every c-bet and every check that the hero makes. If you find spots where you would use a different reason than the coach used in the video dont lose your confidence. They could be using a different set of words to express their thought process or simply be making a mistake.


2. Go over a HH for a session you recently played and do the same.

3. Play a session where you focus on actively expressing what kind of c-bet or check you make in every hand you are involved in.

The continuation bet


Too often I hear people say, Here I fire a standard c-bet, without actually understanding why it is standard, and without even thinking about the size.

Ranges and bet sizes

If we want to improve as poker players we need to start thinking about everything that we do at the tables and constantly ask ourselves the question why? In this chapter we will talk a little about ranges and how to pick the right bet size. Assumption The size of a bet affects the range of hands willing to call. The arguments for this assumption are: 1. If we check call the flop the preflop caller sees the turn card with his whole preflop calling range.

So, by choosing a bet size we form the range of hands that will be calling our bet (we will later identify something called an inelastic range for which the above assumption is not true). Assumption Board texture matters.

2. If we bet really big on the flop he will see the turn card with only the top of his range - or at least the frequency with which he calls with the bottom of his range goes down.

This is just another way of saying that we should be bluffing with a higher frequency than average in spots where our perceived strength is good or better; simply because those board textures allow us to tell a plausible story.

On board textures where the preflop callers expected c-bet calling range has a lot of equity in the pot we should bet bigger with our whole range. In general when the board is more coordinated there are not only more hands that can call our bet, but also more cards that may kill our action. So the big bet on the flop is not only needed for protection,
Ranges and bet sizes


but also because it is often our best chance to get some value when we actually do have a strong hand. So, board texture matters. Notice that as I learn more about my opponents I will adjust frequencies and bet sizes according to their tendencies. Will the villain notice bet sizing tells? A range can be broken down into the following parts.

The foundation for my ABC strategy for picking the right bet size is simply to bet according to the board texture and the absolute strength of my hand. How big a pot do I want to play? So, if I bluff a lot in a certain spot I will be inclined to bet a little smaller. If Im mostly betting for value and betting with strong semi-bluffs I tend to bet a little bigger. The most important parameters are villains range and his tendencies. Nuts Made hands with which the preflop caller is willing to play for stacks with. Strong draws Draws with so much equity that they do not need any folding equity. Getting All in on the flop is +EV. Weak draws Draws that need folding equity. Some weak draws are disguised. A gut shot is an example of a weak disguised draw. Strong bluff catchers Made hands with so much estimated equity that we are willing to bluff catch more than one street. Air Hands with no hope.

Weak bluff catchers Made hands with enough estimated equity to bluff catch one street.
Ranges and bet sizes


Before you fire a c-bet you should consider the preflop callers preflop calling range and match it with the board texture. How do you expect villain to play the different parts of his range?

So, depending on the situation the preflop callers range on the turn will have different compositions. A c-bet is a way for the preflop raiser to force the preflop caller to decided what he wants to do with the different parts of his range.

How many hand combinations does the preflop caller have that he will consider the nuts, strong draw, strong bluff catcher, weak bluff catcher, ... ? I like to mentally name a few typical hands for each part of his range.

The relation between bet size and the strength of our range in a certain spot is actually a very common strategy in poker:

Actual strength of range and bet size

Some will argue that it is because they dont want to be called and play the hand out of position, but the real reason as to why their choice of bet sizing makes sense, is that in general their range is stronger. A mistake I see many players make when they are playing against a showdown happy player is that they adjust correctly by lowering their bluff frequency (it seems like a bad idea to bluff a player that does not like to fold!) but they forget to adjust their bet sizes. I think there are two reasons for this: 1. If our standard c-bet size is already 3/4 pot there is not much room left for flexing our bet sizes. 2. We fear that our change in strategy is too obvious.

We raise bigger in early position than in late position.

We 3-bet bigger when we are out of position than when we are in position.

Both are valid concerns. The first concern should make it clear why it is important to bet according to board texture and the player while the
Ranges and bet sizes


second illustrates that game dynamics and the ability to change gear play a big role in modern poker. In the spots where we expect the villain to call or fold it is actually more relevant to consider the ratio: (nuts + value + strong draws + weak draws):air

For a range we can talk about the nuts:air ratio. It is a measure for how often we are snap calling a shove compared to how often we are on a pure bluff. We could in theory estimate the strength of our range versus villains by estimating the above ratios, but this is impossible to do in the heat of the moment. The strength of our hand depends heavily on the reaction we expect from the other player in the hand which again depends on game flow.

After a session I may try to estimate the range ratio for a player in a certain spot. This helps me figure out what type of hands I want to use in my counter strategy. It is not something I do often. Definition The strength of a hand relative to the other player, the board texture, positions, pot size, effective stack size and the action is known as relative hand strength I prefer to use perceived strength, points of honesty and a basic analysis of how I expect villain to play the different part of his range when I try to answer the question: The reason is that I then play according to the information villain has available. How big a pot do I want to play against this player on this flop? Question 1: How does the size of the pot affect how villain will play the different parts of his range?

Ranges and bet sizes


The Value Bet Conjuctures

You cant bet for value if your perceived range does not contain bluffs. You can bluff when your perceived range contains hands you are betting for value. The more bluffs you have in your perceived range the thinner you can bet for value. The more value hands you have in your perceived range the more you can bluff.

The Bluff Catching Conjectures

Players will bluff catch with a high frequency on board textures where they have a lot of potential bluff catchers and your perceived range contains bluffs. Players will bluff catch with a low frequency in situations where you have a high perceived strength or your perceived range is weighted towards hands you are betting for value. If villains tendency to bluff catch does not depend on the bet size, then the bluff catching conjectures lead to the interesting suggestion that we should be tempted to bet on the bigger side on flops where we are going for multiple barrels and on the smaller side on flops where we are often going for a single barrel. Note: That there are situations where villain will behave in a nonstandard way. One example is when the effective stack is small compared to the pot. Another example is if we for some reason bet really small or really big and there by create a non-standard situation. Players tendency to bluff catch depends more on game flow than on bet size.

Ranges and bet sizes


A player is positional aware if he:

Positional awareness

Understands how being in position and out of position affects the game. Understands that players play different ranges from different positions.

Question 2: How does that affect bluff catching tendencies?

Against a player who is rarely bluff raising we should play with a different balance in our range than against an aggressive player who is bluff raising a lot. The reason is that we will be tempted to fold hands with marginal showdown value when we are put under pressure. The relative strength of our hand drops as the pot gets bigger.

Words on balance

Question 3: What adjustments would you make to your range when facing a player who is re-raising and check-raising a lot?

Question 4: What adjustments would you make against a player who is rarely bluff raising? Question 5: Against which player is 4-bet bluffing most effective? Player A, who 3-bets 13% and 5-bet shoves AQ+, TT+ or Player B, who 3-bets 9% and 5-bet shoves AK, JJ+ Some think of a balanced range as a range with equal portions of each part. I prefer: Definition A range is said to be balanced if the ratios between each part of makes the range unexplotiable.

Question 6: What is the natural adjustment of a weak player when put under pressure? Question 7: What is the natural adjustment of an aggressive player when put under pressure?
Ranges and bet sizes


Playing with truly balanced ranges is almost impossible and fundamentally suboptimal (in the definition I prefer) because players play different styles and they adjust in different ways when they feel that we are exploiting them. Playing a truly balanced style is a waste of time. I will shift the balance in my ranges according to game dynamics, but I never worry about actually having a balanced range. I prefer to exploit and adjust rather than try to protect myself from being exploited. Question 8: When does it makes sense to manipulate the perceived range? What I do worry about is changing my perceived range. Understanding how different player tendencies change the composition of the range of hands we face is the foundation of every winning approach to poker.

Ranges and bet sizes


Understanding how bet sizing affects the flow of a hand is one of the most complex aspects of poker. Our best chance is to look at different types range and how they behave.

Range types and their behaviour

I dont know who coined the term elastic range. The definitions and the terminology in this chapter is developed together with my students especially Derek.

Elastic and inelastic ranges

Definition A hand is called elastic (to the bet size) if the size of the bet will affect the frequency with which we get a call. Definition A hand is called inelastic (to the bet size) if the size of the bet will not affect the frequency with which we get a call . Definition A hand is called strong if it has enough equity to call. Definition A hand is called weak if it does not have enough equity to call.

Whether or not a hand should be counted as elastic, inelastic, strong or weak depends on the size of the bet and how much equity villain estimates the hand to have against our range.

Some villains are paranoid and will bluff catch flop and turn very light. Some villains fall in love with draws. In both cases it is our job to adjust for that when we count. Definition The elasticity of a range is defined as the quotient between the elastic hands and the inelastic hands. #elastic hands / #inelastic hands >= 0
Range types and their behaviour


Calculating the elasticity of a range is a matter of counting hand combinations. I count bluffs catchers and floats as inelastic hands. Definition A range is said to be super elastic if its elasticity is greater than 0.8. If villain has an elastic range we can, with our bet size, adjust the frequency with which we will get called by certain parts of his range, and in that way increase our expected value. Definition A range is said to be inelastic if its elasticity is less than 0.2 If villain has an inelastic range we know that the majority of his hands will be inelastic to our bet size. Definition A strong-weak range is an inelastic range which consists of a strong part and a weak part.

An example of this is the preflop callers range on the turn on a Kinghigh dry flop after the preflop raiser has c-bet the flop. The strong part consists of top pair and better while the weak part consists of second pair hands and floats. Definition A polarized range is an inelastic range which consists of nut like hands and air. Putting villain on a range is the first requirement for becoming a successful poker player. Understanding how the nature of villains range affects our strategy is the second. Question 9: Can you give an example where villains range is polarized? Question 10: When will villains range on the turn have a high elasticity? Hint: It depends on the board texture.
Range types and their behaviour


One application of the above definitions is that they allow us to evaluate if a spot is a good spot to bluff without equity.

To bluff or not to bluff

where #weak hands is the number of hands we expect villain to fold and #strong hands is the number of hands we expect villain to the bet we have in mind. #weak hands / #strong hands > bet size / (bet size+pot size),

The left side of the equation tells us how often we can expect the bluff to work. The right side of the equation tells us how often it has to work to show a profit, if we assume that we have no equity against the strong part of villains range. When we are semi-bluffing we have so much equity that it becomes an important factor. If eq (a number between 0 and 1) is our equity the equation becomes: If a bluff with zero equity has to work 2/5 (0.4) of the time, then it has to work 8/25 (0.32) of the time when our equity is 0.2 . Here we are not even considering implied odds. #weak hands / #strong hands > bet size (1-eq) / (bet size+pot size)

The Elasticity Conjectures (TEC)

tec1: The more inelastic the range is, the fewer hands we can value bet. tec2: The more elastic the range is, the thinner we can bet for value and protection. tec3: The more elastic the range is, the bigger we can bet without making the range inelastic. tec4: The more inelastic the range is, the bigger we can bet for value when we have the best hand. tec5: The more inelastic the range is, the smaller we can bet when we are bluffing.
Range types and their behaviour


It is important to remember that there are degrees of elasticity. It is not a black and white world. As with perceived strength I prefer to use simple words to express the degree of elasticity. Super elastic Flop is QT6tt we fire a c-bet and the turn is a blank. The preflop caller has a super elastic range on the turn. Very elastic Flop is K65tt on a blank turn the preflop caller has a very elastic range.

tec6: The more elastic the range is, the better it is to bluff on scare cards.

Question 11: How does non-blank turn cards affect the calling range on the turn? Now dont worry if you cannot see how you can use this in your own game to pick the right bet size. I understand that the conjecture is a big mouthful, so we are going to look at some different types of board textures where we are the preflop raiser. But before we do that let us see if we can use the elasticity conjecture to figure out how to play against two player types. My goal is that you as the reader will start thinking about how elastic villains range is and use that as a guideline for your choice of bet size. The calling station A calling station is a player who will call almost any bet if he has a piece of the board or holds an ace. He shows up with a very elastic range in spots where you would have expected it to be inelastic (the range is elastic but it was played in an inelastic way).
Range types and their behaviour

Elastic Flop is KQ5tt on a blank turn the preflop caller has an elastic range.

Inelastic Flop is J62r on any turn card the preflop caller has an inelastic range.


For example: You bet the flop and the turn rather big compared to the effective stack and villain showed up with 3rd pair on the river or maybe a missed gut shot with tainted outs.

If TEC is any good it should tell us what counter strategy we should use. His range on the flop can be described as [has a piece, no piece]. The has a piece part is literally any piece and includes ace high hands and fourth pair. This diversity results in elastic ranges in spots where we would normally expect strong-weak ranges. The definition of an inelastic range tells us that he will call almost any bet sized if he has a piece. Tec2 tells us that we should bet thinner for value and protection. Tec3 tells us that we can bet bigger than we normally would. Does this sound like a good strategy against a calling station? Tec5 tells us that if we c-bet on the flop as a bluff we should bet small. We dont need to bet big in order to get him to fold air.

Fit or Fold players Fit or fold players will generally show up with more inelastic ranges than other players. Tec5 tells us that we can bet small when we are bluffing.

Tec6 tells us that we should be looking for scare cards if we want to bluff on the turn or the river.

So Tec can not only serve as a guideline for choosing the right bet size it can also help you answer the question why and help you figure out what strategy you should be using against a player depending on how elastic his ranges are. As with many other concepts in poker there are several definitions of capped range.

Tec4 tells us that we should just bet big when we have a strong hand.

Capped range

Range types and their behaviour


I personally prefer to define a capped range as:

Definition A capped range is a range where either the top or the bottom of the range is missing.

Against a top capped range we can run bluffs since the villain never has a strong hand. Against a bottom capped range we should never bluff catch. The typical example is nits who by design have a range capped at the bottom. In general poker is full of capped ranges: Players who rarely 4-bet bluff have a capped range when they 4-bet. Players who rarely double barrel have a capped range when they suddenly bet the turn. Players who fold a lot to 3-bets have a capped range when they suddenly call.

Players who fold to a lot of c-bets have a capped range on the turn when they suddenly call.

Range types and their behaviour


1. Go over a hand history of a recent session and try to classify the elasticity in the hands you were involved in. Both as the caller and the aggressor. Start by looking at the range of hands willing to call a c-bet. How did the bet sizes on the flop and turn affect the range?


2. Watch a video and try to classify the elasticity on the turn in as many hands as possible. Dont pause the video unless you have to. 3. Pick 5 hands from you database where you are the preflop raiser and evaluate if the turn is good spot to bluff with air (0 equity).

Range types and their behaviour


Because there are no or very few draws on a dry board we are almost always way ahead or way behind with our made hands. The preflop caller rarely has big pairs in his range since he would 3-bet them preflop.

Dry flops as the preflop raiser

All in all this means that unless the preflop caller has managed to flop a set or top pair he will often fold if we put him under (enough) pressure; for example if we fire a second barrel on the turn. We dont get played back at very often - or at least as often - on the dry boards, because there are fewer hand combinations the preflop caller can represent with a raise or check raise on the flop. This means that the standard bluff lines for the preflop caller at ssnl and msnl becomes a one street floats and bluff catching. Maybe if things are really wild that Friday afternoon a two street float or a bluff raise on the turn; both very profitable lines given a good read and the right table dynamics. The lines that I will take as the preflop raiser against most opponents are highly related to perceived strength. The reason is simply that the lower the board texture, the more likely it is that the preflop caller holds top pair or an over pair on the flop, and at least second pair on the turn. Assumptions 1. Nobody likes to call with third pair. 3. Nobody likes to fold top pair. 2. Second pair will often fold to a second barrel.

No matter what hand I hold, Im always happy when I see a dry flop where my perceived strength is either good or better.

When our perceived strength is good or better

On these boards I would consider not c-betting 100% of my range a big adjustment.
Dry flops as the preflop raiser


We have the best hand almost always and all we have to do is to figure out how to play our hand.

Strong made hands: TPGK or better

Flop When we are c-betting dry flops where our perceived strength is good and we have TPGK or better we are betting for value. Why is betting a good idea? Four reasons:

1. Since we are betting all our air when our perceived strength is good or better. We are very rarely check-folding here, so when we bet we keep our range nice and wide. And, over time, by constantly betting these flops the other players will start to call with second pair hands that will fold to further action.

2. When over cards are possible. We are actually not only betting for value, but also a little for protection. 3. If the preflop caller actually has a hand he thinks he can call with, we want to give him the chance to make a mistake and call. When we make a c-bet the preflop callers range becomes strong-weak on the turn, because there are no draws. On the turn his range is: top pair or better, and weak made hands. The top of his range will call any bet, while the bottom will fold to any reasonable bet; hence strongweak. 4. If the preflop caller is only moderately smart he should know that, if we are checking, we are check-calling. In other words we are making life easy for him. Remember we are betting all our air and strong made hands.

Turn If the turn brings a high card then our perceived strength goes up. This could mean that the range of hands we can get value from with a bet on the turn just got smaller. Question 12: Is that true?
Dry flops as the preflop raiser


Because the preflop callers range is strong-weak we could check the turn since there is no significant risk. Possible motivations for a check could be:

Nobody likes to call with 3rd pair and the other player in the hand is floating a lot with second pair type hands. In that case our check is for deception.

The standard line for me is to bet since nobody folds top pair, and we have a really pretty hand.

When we bet the turn there is a relationship between calling frequencies and bet sizing. But the change in the calling range is so small that I prefer to just bomb the turn - trying to maximize my value from a top pair weaker kicker. The preflop caller has a strong-weak range, which means that he is either calling or folding and the size of our bet has very little relevance.

Our read on the player in the hand is that he is the set mining type. In that case we are either checking for pot control or with the intention of giving up!

There is another very important reason to bomb the turn. Lets say that we no longer hold a very strong hand and decide to check the turn for pot control. And lets say that the preflop caller has a strong hand. We can expect him to bet the turn for value, but because we look weak hes often not going to bet big. The result is that we win big pots when we have him dominated and lose medium sized pots when he has us dominated. How beautiful is that? Tip: Look for TAG players who call a lot of c-bets. They are less likely to have a top pair hand on high card boards, simply because their preflop calling range is dominated by pocket pairs. Question 13: What is the gap between VPIP and PFR for a typical TAG? Question 14: How big a percentage of all possible hand combinations are pocket pairs?
Dry flops as the preflop raiser


River Shoving or at least betting big on the river with the top of our range should be the standard line against most players, unless we went for pot control on the turn.

Question 15: Try to justify the big value bet on the river using the elasticity conjecture.

Made hands: TPNK - strong 2nd pair

Flop Again betting seems like a good standard line. Why?

We have the best hand almost always and since we are rarely check/ calling with the top of our range, and never with the bottom of our range (air), checking here would make our hand a little too transparent.

When we are c-betting dry flops where our perceived strength is good we are betting mostly for value, but with second pair hands our bet is also a little for protection.

That being said, we can sometimes pick these hands to balance our flop play and check/call with them. We are not going for 3 streets of value but are happy with as little as one street against many players with this part of our range, and the cost of giving a free card is very small. Question 16: When does it make sense to balance our flop lines on this type of texture? Turn If we did not pot control the flop we should, against most players, pot control the turn by checking. On almost any turn card I prefer check/ calling with this part of my range. We very rarely get 3 streets of value with our hand unless the preflop caller is a calling station, so we are not losing value when we check.
Dry flops as the preflop raiser

If we also sometimes check-call or check-raise with very strong hands and check-fold air we are not too transparent when we check.


Furthermore, there is a chance that the caller will bet the turn with hands that he would fold to a turn c-bet. By checking the turn we are turning our hand into a bluff catcher and make it harder for our opponents to float us on dry boards. Question 17: So maybe a check on the flop would not be a bad idea against a fit or fold player?

Against some players a check-fold is not as nitty as it sounds. We have no kicker and have very little equity against a fit or fold players calling range. River If the turn went check/check then I like value betting the river. The preflop caller could be trapping, but that happens very rarely. By checking the turn we made sure that the preflop caller has a strong-weak range on the river. This allows us to make a thin value bet. Question 18: Do you want to make a small or a big bet on the river? If we check-called the turn for pot control we should continue to pot control on the river. In short check the river also.

Flop looks pretty but we did not connect. Its time to use our perceived strength!

Weak made hands and air

Flop & Turn We have little to no showdown value with our hand. In HU pots on board textures where our perceived strength is very good or good Im c-betting the flop with this part of my opening range 100% of the time. The better our perceived strength on the flop the less likely I am to fire a second barrel.

If the preflop caller is a good player we cant use the fact that his range on the turn is strong-weak and just bet small when we are bluffing (bet sizing tell). But until we actually see that he is willing to call two bets on a dry flop with a weak made hand we can exploit him.
Dry flops as the preflop raiser


River I almost never bluff the river after having bet the flop and turn. Question 19: Is it a bad idea to bluff the river?

So our ABC line is to bet the flop, bet the turn, and check/fold the river. That said, this is the first line I make adjustments to in terms of frequencies and bet sizing. If for some reason we did not bet the turn and it went check/check we can try to bluff on the river since there is some elasticity left. Question 21: Would you bet big or small? What can we do? We cant get easy flops all the time.

Question 20: What kind of adjustments should we consider making and when should we be making them? When will you be more tempted to double barrel? When would you be less tempted?

When our perceived strength is okay or poor

Strong made hands: TPGK or better
Flop When we c-bet here we are c-betting for value with the top of our range but for value and a little protection with the bottom of our range. By betting we get to fold over cards that did not connect with the board and we lose a little elasticity. If we are deep out of position and the preflop caller is very aggro (raises a lot of flops) we might want to check with the bottom of our range since we are not really ready to play a big pot. The two main ideas behind this line are to trade initiative on the flop for position since aggressive players will very often bet when we check to them and to balance our flop play. Now by check-calling instead of betting we actually protect our equity in the pot since we no longer risk getting bluffed out of the pot on the flop while we hold the best hand. If we are truly worried about balancing our flop play we should also check-raise with a part of our range. We dont mind giving a free card
Dry flops as the preflop raiser


and villain has a lot of potential bluff catchers in his range. He will bet most of them on the flop since our perceived range is full of over cards. Notice: I will never balance my flop lines until I have a reason to do it; having fun and trying to play a highly varied style are both solid reasons but they are often not enough to truly justify the balancing. Turn Unless we check-raised or check-called the flop we are just looking to take the preflop caller to value town; especially when the turn is a scare card. Very often the preflop caller has second pair on the turn, and when the turn card is a known scare card he is very rarely ready to fold. Against players who are bluff raising the turn a lot we can balance our turn play and take a pot control line with the bottom of our range, and sometimes check-raise with the top of our range. River Again unless we pot controlled the turn we are looking for more value on the river with the top of our range. The idea behind a check-raise on the flop or the turn is actually twofold: 1. We have a strong hand and want to build the pot. A check-raise really builds the pot in a nice way.

Question 22: Try to justify that with the threat of a check-raise we are protecting our pot controlling range.

2. We are protecting the part of our range that in the future we will be trying to pot control with.

On board textures where our perceived strength is okay Im (when Im betting) betting at least once and if there is any truth at all in the value lines we have just discussed it is evident that we often will need to fire 3 barrels if we decide to bluff at the pot.

Weak made hands and air

So our standard line could be to simply check/fold or check/call deDry flops as the preflop raiser


pending on our hand. That being said, 2 and 3 barrels are a good alternatives. Simply turn our weak made hands into a bluff. Question 23: When should we be tempted to bet weak made hands? Question 24: What hands would you prefer to barrel with?

If our standard line with this part of our range is to check-fold, the preflop caller will very often stab at the pot with his whole range. We look like we have given up on the pot, and they dont want to give any free cards. This presents a potential bluff spot for us. So, since the preflop caller often stabs too with too weak a range at these pots we can punish him with a check-raise. This bluff line is sometimes cheaper than firing multiple barrels, and works very well if the preflop caller knows that we might be doing this for value. Question 25: What type of hands should we pick for our bluff checkraises?

Dry flops as the preflop raiser


As we saw when we looked at bet sizing the wet boards are often a little more tricky to play. When there are many draws on the flop the preflop caller is simply more likely to play back at us early in the hand. He will be doing it with semi-bluffs, strong made hands and pure bluffs. The frequency of each part of his range depends on the player, but in todays aggressive games we can expect to get played back at a fair amount. Aggressive players Will very often play flush draws aggressively Will often play disguised draws passively Will almost always play sets fast Will have a fair amount of air in their range Will often play disguised draws passively Will very rarely raise air

Wet boards as the preflop raiser

Passive players Will often play flush draws passively

Will often raise a set and two pair on the flop

Good players Will play the flush draws aggressively when the spot is right Will play the sets fast when the spot is right

Conclusion When we are playing draw heavy boards the range of hands we get called by depends a lot on the player type we are facing. So we need to pay extra attention to what lines the preflop caller takes, otherwise we risk getting seriously outplayed.
Wet boards as the preflop raiser

Will have a fair amount of air in their range depending on the villain


As you have figured out by now draw-heavy board textures are way more complex to play than their dry cousins. The type or player we are in the pot with makes a huge difference. So instead of outlining plans based only on the board texture, I will use the player type as our primary parameter.

The Plans

We can pretty quickly spot players of this type since they are raising a lot of wet flops when they are in position, and check-raising them when they are out of position.

Versus aggressive players

When our c-bet gets raised Against an aggressive player we should strongly consider expanding our value range - since the mistake the aggressive player makes is that they stack off with weak draws too frequently and bluff too much. The typical example is overplaying weak flush draws on Ace, King, or Queen high boards, where they expect us to c-bet 100% and therefore expand their semi-bluffing range too much. The problem with just calling is that we then too frequently give their weak draws a free card and we rob ourselves of the chance to get the money in as a favourite. Here I assume that the aggressive villain is not folding the weak flush draws if we re-raise him. Obviously, if he is bluffing so much that we dont really worry about a free card, calling is a no-brainer. Protect our equity This makes sense if we have a hand that we are not willing to go to war with. We fear that he will bluff us out of the hand. The alternative line is to check the flop. Here the check is motivated by two factors:

Wet boards as the preflop raiser

Lower short term variance While we will get lower short term variance, we will get higher variance in the long term. We will no longer win the fair chunk of pots


When our c-bet gets called Since the aggressive villain raises almost any flush draw and strong hand on the flop, his range on the turn is dominated by medium strong hands, such as top pair decent kicker and second pair type hands. His range is inelastic and we can pot control, value bet him to death or fire a 2nd barrel as a bluff depending on what hand we have and game flow. Guidelines for bluffing Because the aggressive player is re-bluffing our c-bets with a high frequency, he is a little tough to bluff. I have, however, found two lines to be pretty effective. On the flop when Im out of position and hold a weak semi-bluff that Im not willing to get it in with, I some times go for a check-raise.

where the villain simply folds to our re-raise, which would help us withstand the times where we get the money in bad.

The reason that it works so well against players who play draw heavy flops very aggressively, is that their strategy is to get us to check/fold a lot of our air (we cant really check/call with air). So, when we check they will try to take the pot down. They will be stabbing at the pot with a range that cannot stand a check/raise, because they think that their strategy has started to work. Question 26: When would you start to worry about balance?

This idea also works when you are in position. It may look a little different, but fundamentally it is the same move. Check behind on the flop with the intention of raising the turn lead, you can think of it as fake pot equity protection. When we actually have a hand we want to take to showdown theres nothing fake about our check and we should not be raising the turn lead as a standard. Question 27: So what range of hands would you use for this bluff?
Wet boards as the preflop raiser

The move serves two purposes. The first is to punish the aggressive


player to be stabbing with too wide of a range. The second is to protect us for the times when we are actually checking for pot equity protection. Before you pull the move you should actively think about what you are trying to do. Can you justify it?

This villain may be very aggressive but obviously we are not going to stop c-betting as a bluff. The times we get called it can, as previously mentioned, be a very good idea to fire a second barrel because this player type tends to have an inelastic range on the turn. Please note it is rarely a good idea to fire a third. Question 28: What type of hands should we prefer to bluff with? And why is it a bad idea to bluff with pure air. Question 29: Why is it a bad idea to fire a third?

Passive players will show up on the turn with a range skewed towards draws, top pair and second pair type hands. That said, they may choose to slow play sets sometimes.

Versus passive players

When our c-bet gets raised If our perceived strength is good or better Im folding top pair hands very often when we get raised. We are looking at their value range straight in the face and that range dominates TPGK. We are crushed. Their raising range is inelastic, which in this case means that we cant re-raise and make him fold.

When our c-bet gets called Passive players can still have very strong hands in their range on the turn, so we should treat a turn raise from them as the pure nuts. He might be bluffing, but without a read we cannot assume that he is bluffing the turn often enough for us to be able to continue without a very strong hand. As long as they just call Im treating SPTK+ (second pair top kicker) as the pure nuts meaning that we are betting the flop and the turn for value and protection. The turn bet is mostly for protection. Question 30: Why is the turn bet a bet for mostly protection and rarely for value?
Wet boards as the preflop raiser


Question 31: How big should we bet? Think about what we are protecting our hand from, and how big a bet that part of his range is willing to call while still making a mistake. A very strong draw has ~20% equity here.

Since we dont need to protect our hand anymore on the river Im check/calling, check/folding the river depending on what reads I have on the preflop caller. Question 32: Why?

If we bet the turn the passive player often has an inelastic range on the river (this is not true if the player is a calling station): Question 33: How can we use that to our advantage? Question 34: Can you construct some board textures where some player types will still have an elastic range on the river after you bet the flop and turn? In general I find that passive players rarely value bet thin.

The question we need to ask before we check-call the river is obviously: Is this player bluffing missed flush draws on the river or not? Guidelines for bluffing In general, since we are betting hands like second pair top kicker on the turn for protection (we have a large value range), it is a bad idea to try to get passive players to fold their hand once they have called on the flop. We can have a wide value range because the passive players have a wide calling range. So against them Im stabbing at boards where our perceived strength is good or better, but if Im betting the turn Im very often also betting the river. Question 35: How could we manipulate our bet sizes against this player type? A good player is defined here as a player that can adjust to our game. The typical adjustments that he will make to us if we are playing an ag-

Versus good players

Wet boards as the preflop raiser


gressive game are:

Not raising marginal flush draws on boards where we should not be c-betting as a bluff too often, but still sometimes raise as a pure bluff since it will be very hard for us to continue out of position. Bluff raise board textures where we c-bet too much.

The good player is truly letting us feel the pain of position and punishing us for opening a very wide range in late position. Without reads there is little we can do but play pretty straightforwardly. So the sad conclusion is that we should try to develop reads and be very aware of what lines he has seen us take as a bluff and for value. That being said we can go far if we balance our flop play as we discussed under aggressive players. One thing I want to stress is that if the player is good our winnings are not going to come from us trying to outplay him when we are out of position. There is a four letter word for being out of position against a really tough player, and that is: PAIN.

Slow play big hands and mix in delayed semi-bluff raises on the turn; we are betting a fair amount of turns since we would expect him to raise big hands directly on the flop. He is punishing us for mistaking him with an overaggressive player who would mostly just be calling or folding to our turn bets.

Question 36: What counter adjustments would you expect a good player to make if he knows that you are willing to battle him a little light? Do you think he will be tempted to bluff you more or be more focused on value? One of the things that makes draw heavy board textures interesting to play is the fact that there are so many scare cards in the deck; not only for us but also for the preflop caller.

Bluffing when a draw gets there

In aggressive dynamics I have had some success with check/raising

Wet boards as the preflop raiser


scare cards but that is not a line for the faint of heart.

TEC tells us that we should feel tempted to continue bluffing on scare cards when the preflop caller has a very elastic range. Question 37: Try to construct some board textures where the turn range is very elastic. Question 38: What type of hands should we be using for our bluffs? Question 39: What player type(s) should we be more likely to target?

Question 40: How big should we bet? Hint: think about what range of hands you are trying to get to fold.

If the preflop caller has an inelastic range the scare card should not matter much and if the villain is a little sceptic the scare card may even prove to be a good spot for a thin value bet.

Wet boards as the preflop raiser


The exercises below are tough. If you dont have a deck of cards near you can use:


1) Grab a deck of cards. Deal a flop Repeat

Write down the flop

2) For each board texture write down:

Imagine that you are the preflop raiser and that there is one caller. Write down the range of hands that might call a c-bet.

The worst hand you will bet for value or value/protection on the flop. The worst hand you will bet for value on the river. How big will you bet? If the turn and/or river card matters write it down. How many barrels are you tempted to fire?

3) What line do you want to take as a bluff?

The worst hand you will bet for value (value/protection) on the turn and the range you expect to get called by. Does your bet size matter? How many hand combinations can you expect to fold on the turn?

Wet boards as the preflop raiser


The better an idea we have about where villains points of honesty are postflop the more hands and optimal a range we can call with preflop.

the preflop calling range

The tighter a range we are facing the less we should be tempted to bluff and bluff catch. We should in other words be tempted to play fit or fold. The reason is that very tight players have ranges that are capped at the bottom. They start out preflop with a strong range and that range is often going to stay strong. Unless we have a read on them postflop there is very little we can do but play fit or fold poker. Note that this also applies to players who seldom c-bet as a bluff. As you may already have guessed the wider a range is the more we should focus on bluffing and bluff catching. We can make moves both preflop and postflop. Preflop we can 3-bet and postflop we can bluff catch, float or bluff raise. The difference between a float and a bluff catch is that a float has no showdown value.

Floating and bluff catching the flop is best done in situations where we expect villain to often reach a point of honesty on the turn and checkfold a lot - or at least allow us to get to showdown. If that is not the case there should be at least 10 cards in the deck that are going to allow us to turn our hand into a bluff raise or bluff catch again - with the intention of bluffing the river. The more hand combinations we can represent the better our perceived strength when we (bluff) raise. If villain is very aggressive postflop we should be less tempted to bluff catch and float since an aggressive villain will put us in tough spots on the turn. We need to value outs and board texture higher when we do decide to bluff catch.

On K52r I would much rather have 65s than 88 if I decide to bluff catch on the flop. There is a better chance that we will actually improve on the turn and in terms of showdown value the hands are almost similar.
The preflop calling range


As for board textures, look for boards where there are a lot of cards that can hit your perceived calling range. This will allow us to turn our hand into a bluff on the turn. So it is better to float and bluff catch on K74r than K72r because if the turn is an 8,6,5 or a 3 we can turn our hand into a bluff raise on the first board texture but only an 8 or a 6 will give us the same option on the second. Against over aggressive players we can consider bluff catching two streets. The problem is that we may or may not make a big mistake on the river if villain is capable of firing the third barrel. In higher mid stakes games this situation is quite common.. When we try to adjust our preflop calling range we need to take into account what kind of hands we are going to flop.

The postflop value of hands that flop bluff catchers and hands that flop draws increases as villains range gets wider.

The preflop calling range


Calling a preflop raise only trying to hit a set is a very simple but suboptimal strategy. In this chapter we will look at how we can use a positional advantage to maximize our winnings as the preflop caller.

In position as the preflop caller

On a rare occasion you will run into a player that plays too much of a fit or fold style on the flop. Against them our strategy is pretty simple, bet all our weak made hands and air and slow play monsters.

Fit or fold players

The slightly more advanced version of this player type has a bet sizing tell on the flop.

You can spot them by looking out for weird flop checks and they c-bet a lot less than other players in general do. I have had a few players of this type as students and they seem to be afraid of getting called. Many players have a polarized c-betting range. They c-bet most of their air, strong made hands and semi-bluffs, but check-call with hands where they figure that they wont get called by worse very often.

Players with a polarized c-betting range

You might think that we should bluff raise the flop a lot and while this is true in some cases, it is often a better strategy to float the flop. Because they c-bet a skewed range on the flop they are left with a crippled range on the turn. Where they either have to c-bet a truly polarized range or check-fold a lot. They could start to check-call or check-raise with some of their strong made hands, but since they are out of position they dont know if we are going to bet the turn, so they now have a style that by design makes sure that they dont get enough value from their strong made hands. Question 41: What range of hands should we try to steal the pot with and what bet size should we use? When we bluff raise either the flop or the turn we should be doing it

Bluff raising

In position as the preflop caller


because we think it is +EV. This means that we are either exploiting a skewed range with too few bluff catchers or the board texture is of such a nature that any one pair hand with no re-draw is a bluff catcher. The more plausible a story we are telling when we bluff raise the higher success rate we will have against good players. When we looked at this situation from the perspective of the preflop raiser we used perceived strength as our measure. The better our perceived strength the higher success rate we could expect. As the preflop caller we can apply the same fundamental ideas. The range of hands that increases our perceived strength is obviously different. A bluff raise is best done in spots where the preflop raiser would expect you to raise your strong made hands and strong draws. If you can represent more than 12 combinations of hands you will be telling a very plausible story. Question 42: What type of player will you bluff raise on the flop? Question 43: What board textures will you bluff raise? Question 44: What hands will you use? Question 46: What hands will you use?

If the other player is good but not really good there is a good chance that he is c-betting a polarized range in spots where he expects us to try to bluff him. This leaves him with a bluff catching range which is too narrow. Question 45: What type of players will you bluff raise on the turn?

When we start bluff raising the flop and turn often we can expect most villains to adjust. The aggressive villain is likely going to try to re-bluff or extend his value range, while a more passive villain often will start to play tighter.

Question 47: How would you adjust and does position have an effect on your choice?
In position as the preflop caller


1) If you raise the flop on a Q76r flop how many hand combinations would you represent?


2) On what turn cards would you raise 65s on a K73r flop? Does your answer depend on the player type? 3) Go into your poker tracker software and pick 5 players and try to figure out how they seem to play postflop as the preflop raiser. Do they play according to perceived strength? Do they check-call a lot? Do they bet the turn with a polarized range? How often are they check-folding the turn as the flop raiser? Do they follow through when they have a missed draw?

4) How will you play against them as the preflop caller if you have position.

In position as the preflop caller


Most poker players know how to play small pocket pairs when they are in position against an early position raiser. They will be thinking something like, Fist pump! I know how to play this hand. Time to set mine!

Out of position as the preflop caller

But what if he opens in late position, say in the CO, and we are on the button or in the blinds? It now becomes a little less obvious what range of hands we should proceed with. Question 48: What could encourage us to call with more hands from the SB? A very common strategy is to 3-bet or fold small pocket pairs and suited connectors when the preflop raiser is in late position. This is likely not a leak, but there are some problems with this game plan: 1. What is our plan if we get 4-bet? By 3-betting 76s we make sure that we never get to play it against the top of his range against which we have good implied odds. 2. If we get called we need to bluff in a big pot against a stronger range.

Table conditions are here a very important factor when we try to determine what hands we can play in a profitable way postflop.

3. What are we representing when we check raise K65tt in a single raised pot if we are 3-betting any hand that connected with that board? Not much. So, if we always 3-bet pocket pairs and suited connectors in late position situations, then we cant really represent much on flops with more than one low card. A word on balance To make our play from the small blind really effective against players
Out of position as the preflop caller

In other words, when we often find ourselves turning hands with great postflop potential into bluffs preflop, it is very likely that we should look at adjusting and improving our post flop play in single raised pots.


who use their position well we should sometimes flat a preflop raise when we hold a really strong hand like QQ+, AQ+.

This is not only because we want to protect our calling range against squeezing, but also to strengthen our donking and check-raising range by increasing our nuts:air ratio in that line.

One overlooked advantage of playing like a little beast post flop in these late position situations is the fact that the natural adjustment for most players will be to respond with aggression or nit it up postflop. They become fit or fold players or bluff monkeys because their range simply cant stand the heat. In other words we have created a spot where their natural adjustment just leads to more profit for us. How beautiful is that? Question 49: What adjustment should they make? In modern online poker, most poker players have a really wide range in late position, so, unless we are playing like a drooling goat from the blinds, our range is a lot stronger than a late position preflop raisers.

The donk

It is actually a little strange that we so often give the preflop raiser control over the hand, which is exactly what we do when we check the flop to him. If we combine this with the fact that most good players are not really auto c-betting the flop anymore we have to conclude that we need more than a single string strategy based on the magnificent checkraise. Otherwise we will simply be folding the best hand way too often and risk not getting enough value when we do have a strong hand. This is where donking or leading the flop comes to our rescue.

Most players find it a lot easier to lead the flop with a strong made hand than with a bluff, but they only do it on board textures where they want to protect their hand and they dont expect the preflop raiser to c-bet very often. We can identify those board textures as:
Out of position as the preflop caller


This is one of the spots where game flow and history play a huge role. The reason is that people remember the check-raise. Its like getting whacked over the fingers with a kitchen spoon. And flop donk leading is a move considered to be out of rhythm, so it is going to stand out and therefore have an influence on game flow. Question 50: What board textures would you lead with a strong made hand? Question 52: What board textures would you bluff donk? Question 51: What board textures would you lead with a strong draw?

Board textures where our perceived strength as the preflop caller is good, and the preflop raiser therefore fears that his c-bet will get called a lot (if not check-raised).

Tip: Donking for information is something that I do very often. I simply test what I can get away with. So Im not donking to see where Im at in the specific hand, but to see how the preflop raiser reacts, and to get a dynamic started. If I have a draw on a two tone or a very coordinated board texture where I expect the preflop raiser to check behind on the flop with a high frequency (fearing the check-raise), I will lead the flop. Putting money in the pot with folding equity, and most important of all while we still have good actual equity in the pot is a really good idea. Because we are leading the flop with our draws (looking for folding equity while protecting our pot equity) and made hands (value and protection) there is also plenty of room for bluff donking. Against a late position opener who is not c-betting too much we should be very tempted to see how much we can push him around with bluff donking. Remember his range is normally very weak. If our image is fishy we should probably lower our donk bluff frequency a little, since many aggressive players will raise when the fish donks
Out of position as the preflop caller

Just try it and pick a bet size that fits the board texture and the strength of your perceived range. Remember, tell a plausible story. 56


In general, against very aggressive or paranoid players, we should lower our bluff frequency and expand our range for value donking; since very few people raise weak top pairs when donked into. They normally just call while they hope that we will continue to bluff. Question 53: How does the fact that they rarely raise our flop donk with top pair type hands affect the range of hands that they do raise with?

Not many players use the line check-call flop, donk turn unless it is for value against a player who is checking behind on many turns.

Donking the turn

It is therefore a very good alternative line to take as a bluff. Against a player who fires multiple barrels this is a nice change of pace where you take away his ability to c-bet the turn as a bluff; check-calling looks a lot like a made hand and since we could also be taking this line for value, I promise you that you will see a lot of folds.

The idea is to put money in with folding equity. The alternative, call him down light in order to stop him from bluffing us, is hard to do if he fires 2 and 3 barrels with sane frequencies and on good board textures. Obviously we will be taking the line for different reasons against different players. The move is sometimes called the out of position float. The check-call donk is in many ways just a check-raise. But while you can check-raise with air people will never put you on air if you checkcall and lead the turn. I use this line when I want the player on the button to know that Im willing to be a little creative. A less advanced play is donking the turn if the preflop raiser checks behind on the flop. Against players who take this line for pot control too often and with an unbalanced range, I actually like over betting the turn, both for value and as a semi-bluff. By over-betting the turn we
Out of position as the preflop caller

I prefer to take the line on dry flops. Both for value and when I pickup a draw on the turn.


take the pot control line away from them.

With the donk bet we punish the late position opener for opening a wide range by leading board textures where we cannot expect him to c-bet, either because of his playing style or because of the nastiness of the board texture itself. We are bluff leading on flops where we can represent a lot of strong hands.

Check-raising the flop

The check raise is a different beast.

Question 54: When should we increase our check/raise bluff frequency? We can identify potential targets for the check-raise by looking for someone who has a reasonable opening range plus c-bet percentage. They have a wide range, and since they are c-betting a lot their air to nuts ratio is too high.

When we are playing against tough players we need to have a preflop calling range that fits the moves we make post flop. Well, at least when we are playing against players who can hand read. Our check-raise size depends on how often we are making this move as a bluff and how often we are doing it for value. Since Im normally bluffing a lot when I check-raise a late position opener, I tend to start out with small check-raises; especially when I have no idea how the preflop raiser will react, in a sense it is a check-raise for information. Playing in really aggressive games is something that most of us find frustrating, because we end up check-folding a lot of turns and rivers and when we finally hit and play back we get no or very little action. The answer to our problems is mixing the hands we need to take to showdown with delayed semi-bluffs and nut-like hands.

Check-raising the turn

One of the reasons that check-raising the turn is very efficient is that our hand looks semi-weak when we just check-call the flop. To an aggressive player this is like waving a white flag which means that they
Out of position as the preflop caller


will bet the turn with too many hands that cannot stand a check-raise. The idea behind the turn check-raise, whether it is for value or as a bluff is twofold. If we pick the right spots it is +EV in a vacuum. We protect the part of our range that we would like to get to showdown with. In other words we are trying to lower the nuts:air ratio in his turn c-bet range when we start check-raising the turn.

Out of position as the preflop caller


1) Find 5 players in your database and see if you figure out what ranges they open in the CO and OTB.


2) How much do they c-bet? Do they c-bet a polarized range? Are they fit or fold? How much do they double barrel? Do they fold to check-raises on dry flops? 3) Design a strategy for each of them. How will you play them from the blinds?

Out of position as the preflop caller


The more money we are putting into the pot the better a justification we need to have. This is true for both preflop and postflop actions. So, before we make a 3-bet we should have a very good idea of what it is we are actually trying to achieve. We can 3-bet for a least 3 different reasons: As a bluff We have a read on our opponent that he is folding a fair bit to 3-bets.

Fine tuning the 3-bet

For value The pokers gods are on our side and we have a pretty hand. We want to play a big pot. For isolation We have a huge fish at our table that is willing to pay a high price to see a flop. Against some players we are 3-betting KQs for value, while it might be a bluff against other players. Figuring out which is which is the goal of this chapter. When I start a session and I am playing against a bunch of unknown players I like to start out with 3-betting the hands below:

A starting point

In position: JJ+, AK, AJo, Kjo+, A2o+ Out of position: TT+, AJ+, KJ+

There is nothing holy to the ranges, they are nothing but a starting point for me. Since we are putting in a fair chunk of change when 3-betting we should be more than willing to adjust our ranges.
Fine tuning the 3-bet


In position I tend to raise 3 times the original raise; out of position 3.5 times. Here I am assuming 100bb stacks. The reason for 3-betting bigger when out of position is not to discourage the preflop caller from calling. It is because when we look at the range we are 3-betting mostly for value. Our nuts:air ratio is bigger when we are out of position.

General comment on bet sizing

The ranges are just a starting point. I dont think that can be stressed enough. As I learn more about the dynamics and the players at the table, I will adjust both my value and bluffing ranges.

Before we start discussing what adjustments we can make, we should talk a little about trash.

A word on trash

Definition A trash hand is defined as a hand that has little to no value postflop.

Which hands have postflop value depends on stack sizes, position, the postflop tendencies of the preflop raiser, and whether or not we have a skill advantage.

Without going into when we should be making each adjustment, here is a list of at least some of our options.

Possible adjustments
Add trash

Add broadway hands Add suited aces

Add more pocket pairs Add suited connectors

Remove the bluffing range

Remove the middle (JJ, AQ, TT, KQs)

Fine tuning the 3-bet

Flat with premium hands (QQ+, AK)


Before we make the adjustments we should be considering at least the following things:

Things to consider

Position If the preflop raiser is in early position his range is a little tighter than when he is in late position. If we are in position he is going to be less likely to call. If we are out of position he is going to be more likely to call.

Player tendencies preflop Is the player folding a lot preflop to 3-bets? Is he calling a lot? Does he care about position? Does he adjust his calling range according to stack sizes? Is he 4-betting a lot? Player tendencies postflop Is he a fit or fold player or is he fighting for the 3-bet pots? Stack sizes If we are deep he is going to call more often (or should be). If he is shallow he is going to ship it in lighter. Table conditions (the players left to act) What are the chances that we will get squeezed? Is there a fish left to act?

I like to think of myself as a nice guy, but when it comes to players who fold a lot to 3-bets Im merciless. But lets go over the possible adjustments one by one.

Players who fold a lot to 3-bets

Add trash

In position This player type allows us to bluff them with a 3-bet. This is great. Suddenly we can get value from a hand like J7o simply because the preflop raiser folds very often to 3-bets. And it is actually insanely important
Fine tuning the 3-bet


that we punish him until he adjusts (either by opening a tighter range or by playing back at us). Its a good thing if he tightens up since that will give us the choice to raise preflop. Should he start to play back at us it is more likely that we will get paid when we have big hands.

Until we see that he adjusts, or one of the players left to act starts cold 4-betting us with what looks to be a wider than normal range, we should grab all the value that we can.

Out of position Very often this is the first spot where we will see him adjust by sometimes calling us a little lighter than he normally would (suited connectors, 88, KJs). This means that we should at least try to lower our pure trash frequency. Add more broadway hands

In position The suited brothers and sisters of the off-suit hands we already have in our range, have great value postflop if the preflop raiser is in late position and he is not a preflop nit. Against an early position open a hand like QJs is too often dominated unless we are playing against a laggy player. If we think we will have folding equity post flop and our suited broadway hand also can serve as a fine bluff catcher it is a waste of postflop value to turn our hand into a bluff preflop.

Question 55: Why does folding equity and bluff catching often go hand in hand postflop?

Out of position Even against a player who folds a lot to 3-bets I tend to 3-bet a hand like KQs since we can 3-bet it for value when we are out of position. The rule for 3-betting broadway hands is simply that we should consider doing it when we can 3-bet them for value and we dont fear getting 4-bet bluffed.
Fine tuning the 3-bet


Add more Pocket pairs

In position Many players will snap 3-bet a pocket pair if the preflop raiser is opening in the CO and we have the button. Claiming that we cant call since our implied odds against a wide range are poor and we are creating too many spots where the blinds can squeeze us out of the pot. This is partly true. If we dont think we can use our position and skill edge to bluff a player with a wide range out of the pot often enough, and we dont have a counter-strategy in place for the squeezer, then I think it is okay to sometimes turn a hand like 55 into a bluff. But by 3-betting we make sure that we never play against the top of his range where we have good implied odds. Out of position Again, some players will turn pocket pairs into a bluff. Against players who play their position well and can hand read this is a poor idea; we would cripple our check-raise line in single raised pots on flops like K64tt. What would we be representing? And we still have the problem that we make sure that we very rarely play our hand against the top of his range where we have the best implied odds. Add suited connectors In position Against a late position open, where we might worry about implied odds, the same arguments can be made for suited connectors as for pocket pairs.

Out of position Suited connectors are tougher to play out of position. Or I should say, when we play suited connectors from the blinds in a single raised pot we need to have a good postflop strategy in place, because we very rarely can afford to see the action go check-check on the flop or to check-fold too often. In short, if we dont have a plan for postflop play we can consider either 3-betting or folding suited connectors.
Fine tuning the 3-bet


In general our reason for folding or 3-betting should be because table conditions are tough, not because we are trying to avoid tough spots in single-raised pots against a late position opener. Add suited aces

In position Against a tight range suited aces are tough to play since we risk getting into a reversed implied odds spot. Against a laggy player calling with suited aces is more standard. The deeper we are the more value suited aces have postflop because we can get the nut flush draw. 3-betting a suited ace is fine as a bluff when it has little postflop value in a single raised pot. Out of position Suited aces can be treated much like suited connectors.

Remove the bluffing range Does not make sense since this player is folding a lot. But when Im out of position I tend to keep my trash suited. Remove the middle In position Since this player is folding to a lot of 3-bets it makes a lot of sense to remove the bottom of our value range since we want to keep in hands that we dominate. Should we get squeezed we can defend with these hands. Out of position Both calling and 3-betting is fine. We can 3-bet these hands for value when we are out of position. Flat with premium hands

In position We are calling with a lot of pocket pairs, suited connectors and whatnot when in position. For a good aggressive player we are creating a ton of tasty squeeze spots. In order to protect that part of our range and
Fine tuning the 3-bet


because the preflop raiser folds to a lot of 3-bets especially when he is out of position, we should flat call with a fair share of big hands like QQ+, AK and play them fast post flop.

Out of position In the small blind we can flat if we have a squeezer behind us or we are already playing a very aggro style in single raised pots. In the big blind we lose one argument for flatting and should lean a little more towards 3-betting. Since our nuts:air ratio is (or should be) high when 3-betting this player type we should re-raise a little smaller. When we are out of position and tend to be 3-betting more for value we should choose a more normal bet size.

Bet sizing

ABC my nuts:air ratio against this player type is at least 1:3.

So we are pounding on this dude like there is no tomorrow, since he is snap folding the majority of the time. This makes it a lot easier to play against him postflop; simply because his calling range is narrow by design. That said, we should be less tempted to continue our bluff if our perceived strength on the flop is not at least good. That means we should be looking for high card flops.

Postflop play

This player is never folding an over pair on any board texture, so dont slow play or get tricky if you have a really strong hand. Question 56: How do stack sizes affect what range of hands we can 3-bet/fold?

When we face a player who calls a lot of 3-bets, postflop play becomes increasingly more important.

Players who call a lot of 3-bets

As a function of him folding less to 3-bets we should decrease our nuts:air. Many players will do that by simply bluffing less. Tighten up.
Fine tuning the 3-bet


While this is one possible adjustment it is not always the optimal one. We should change the ratio by expanding our value range and fold the worst trash preflop. This will not only lead to a change in our nuts:air ratio but also lead to a more balanced 3-betting range, which will give us more options postflop. If the player is just calling a lot of 3-bets but snap-folding postflop a balanced range is obviously less of a concern.

The way we punish a player who is calling a lot of 3-bets is to show up postflop with a strong and balanced range that allows us to represent more hand combinations. This is very important since we will have to go to war a little with these guys and girls. The smaller our nuts:air ratio the bigger we can 3-bet. So against this player type our 3-bet can become really big. If they are calling a 18bb raise we should just smile and 3-bet really big when we have a strong hand. They are willing to make a big mistake preflop and we would be making a big mistake if we do not try to take advantage of that.

Bet sizing

Our strategy against players who call a lot of 3-bets is to punish them for calling too much. So we have to fire a lot of c-bets. Everybody is happy as long as it works. But sometimes we encounter a player who is either calling many of our c-bets or even bluff raising them. Against them we need a little more variation in our game.


Players who call a lot of c-bets Tec2 and tec3 tell us that we should value bet thinner and bigger. This means that we will be check-folding some flops when we have no hope. Which again means that we should 3-bet even thinner for value preflop and that we should not 3-bet trash unless we are willing to fire multiple barrels. Since we are going to showdown a lot against this player type, made hands increase in value. I can see myself 3-betting hands like 88 because I know that they are going to be good very often if I can get them to showdown in a 3-bet pot.
Fine tuning the 3-bet


Players who are aggressive postflop The best strategy is to fight fire with not only fire, but with fire and deception. It is against these players that we need to balance our lines. So when we are out of position we should be looking to check more flops with the intention of check-raising or check-calling. Because we are now c-betting as a bluff with a lower frequency our cbetting range is stronger and we should size our c-bet accordingly. In position I have been playing around with fake pot equity protection with great success.

The idea is to remove a good chunk of air in our perceived range, and represent a range that consists mainly of slow played monsters, hands that I am pot controlling and some weak draws.

Fine tuning the 3-bet


1) Find 8 players in your poker tracker software and write down the range of hands that you will 3-bet them with when you are in position. Imagine that you are on the button and they are in the cut off. Use their PFR, Fold to 3-bet, Call 3-bet and Raise 3-bet as your parameters.


2) Imagine that you are in the small blind and they are in the cut off. Will you be 3-betting more hands for value? 3) What is your nuts:air ratio in each situation?

Fine tuning the 3-bet


The more money we put into the pot the better our read needs to be. In games where there is a lot of preflop aggression there is no easy or simple fix. Our only chance is to pay a lot of attention while we try to develop reads on our opponents.

Defending against 3-bets

A natural reaction for many poker players when they face a lot of aggression is to fight back. They get frustrated and will start to 4-bet bluff while they are 100bb deep. This is a mistake against players who have a balanced 3-betting range.

4-bet bluffing

Depending a little on bet sizes a 4-bet bluff has to work roughly 60% of the time to be +EV. So, if villains shoving range is TT+, AQ+ (4.7% of all possible hand combinations), he can maintain a 3-bet percentage of 11,75%. When we are 100bb deep the 4-bet bluff only works against players who have skewed nuts:air ratio and players who get scared when they see that we are willing to 4-bet bluff them. Tip: When we are not afraid of getting 4-bet bluffed often we can skew our nuts:air ratio. This allows us to 3-bet bluff the players we have position on like there is no tomorrow.

The right way to defend against a light 3-bettor when we are out of position and we dont have a read on villains 3-betting range is to tighten up our opening range and defend with hands like AJs+, AQo+ and the pocket pairs that we think are ahead of his 3-betting range. My standard is 88+. Dont 4-bet fold when you are 100bb deep with the villain, unless you know that he plays an unbalanced range.
Defending against 3-bets

If we assume that villain has a balanced 3-betting range and that he is shoving TT+, AQ+ an EV calculation shows that we can 4-bet and call a shove with a very wide range (any hand that has more than 33% equity against TT+, AQ+). 71

First let me emphasize that we should not defend light against 3-bets if villain is rarely bluffing unless we have a postflop read.

Calling 3-bets

As with everything else our strategy should depend on the other player in the hand. When I get 3-bet I divide my opening range into 4 different parts. Nuts Hands that Im happy defending with and where the fact that we have position and that there is dead money in the pot is irrelevant. Against most players this range is: QQ+, AK Too pretty to fold Hands I continue with because there is dead money in the pot and I have position. Against most players this range is: KJs+, 99+, AQo

Bluff stoppers Hands I call with because I want to decrease his nuts:air ratio (most players feel less tempted to 3-bet bluff when they are out of position and there is a fair chance that their 3-bet will get called). This range is dominated by suited connectors, suited one gappers, the smaller suited aces and pocket pairs. Trash Hands that I will almost always fold. As with almost everything else mentioned in this book the above ranges are not static. They depend on a number of different factors and the prominent ones are effective stack sizes, reads, position, history and game flow.

Adjusting to the situation

If we are 100bb deep and without any reads, position is (together with our eagerness to play a 3-bet pot) the primary factor. When we have position is it generally easier for us to get hands to showdown and to apply pressure on the preflop aggressor.
Defending against 3-bets


Tip: When you enter a 3-bet pot and you are without reads try to harvest as much information as possible. Many players get away with more or less auto c-betting in 3-bet pots and as long as we never play back at them postflop it is a winning strategy. When you know what the villain is going to do on the next street there is a leak in his game. Question 57: Why does position lose some of its relevance (especially in 3-bet pots) when we know that the villain is going to c-bet? Once I see a flop I group my hands into four categories based on how big a pot Im willing to play against the player Im in the pot with: Did he check a flop you would auto c-bet? What was his bet size? Did he c-bet a flop you would normally check?

In this case the villain extends your odds (you know that more money will go into the pot) and you can call with a much wider range of hands. Too pretty to fold explodes and position becomes less relevant.

As the effective stack size increases the postflop value of hands that can flop nut like flops increases.

Postflop play

Nuts We either called with the intention of trapping or we flopped a strong draw. All Im worrying about is to get as much money in the pot as possible. How that is best done depends on villain tendencies and the game flow. If there is no history I will slow play the made hands and shove the strong draws.

If the villain has had success with double barrels I will be more tempted to shove both draws and strong made hands on the turn. The goal
Defending against 3-bets


is then to try to change the dynamic and lower his nuts:air ratio on the turn by expanding the shoving range on the turn.

Showdown is needed Hands where we are not in love with the flop but willing to play a medium sized pot. The problem is that the pot already is fairly large to begin with. We can call to re-evaluate when we suspect that the other player in the hand is going to give up or at least will try to pot control on the turn and river. Otherwise we risk folding the best hand too often. On board textures where we expect the 3-bettor to c-bet with a range more geared towards strong made hands we should lean towards folding. On board textures where there are a lot of draws we should consider shoving for value.

A mistake that I see many players make is that they forget all about the player they are in the pot with and play the absolute strength instead of the relative strength of their hand. This often leads to too many situations where they call to reevaluate on the turn. On board textures where we expect the 3-bettor to c-bet with his whole range we should almost always call.

Question 58: How would you play a strong made hand on a draw heavy flop? Re-bluffing If we have had a hard time getting hands to showdown and we know that we are getting bluffed frequently, we should look for ways to rebluff. If there is a lot of dead money in the pot we cant re-bluff (raise the c-bet and fold to a shove) with many hands without committing ourselves.
Defending against 3-bets

I prefer to use hands like back door flush draws and sometimes weak made hands when I re-bluff on the flop.


Question 59: What is the idea behind the raise? How big a raise should we make?

Air When we have air on the flop in a 3-bet pot we can try to bluff raise the flop, but most of the time I prefer to just give up with hands that have no hope and no draw.

Defending against 3-bets


1) Use your poker tracker software to pick 5 players and see if you can figure out what range of hands they are 3-betting and 4-betting with.


Does position play a central role? Is it a polarized range? Do they 3-bet suited connectors? Tempted to 4-bet bluff? Float 3-bet pots? Call turn shoves light?

2) How do they play postflop?

3) How will you defend against them? Bluff raise the flop a lot?

Do they 3-bet small pocket pairs?

Defending against 3-bets


With the many statistics available in modern poker tracker software like poker tracker 3 and Holdem Manager one should think that everybody now is really good at developing reads. Fact of the matter is that it is a little more complex than just reading the numbers in the HUD. Developing reads is the art of combining statistics, board textures, tendencies (not reflected in the stats) and game flow. You are never going to get good at it if you just click buttons. There is only one way and that is hard work.

Developing Reads

In my opinion one of the most important things is understanding how a players tendencies affect his range not only on the current but also on future streets. The goal is to figure out if there is an unbalance in his range that allows us to design a counter strategy. That counter strategy will often (almost always) lead to an unbalance in our ranges which means that there is a correct counter strategy that he should seek to deploy. In this chapter I will try to mention some of the tendencies that I pay a lot of attention to when I play. The first things I look at when I try to develop a read on a player are his VPIP and the PFR.


If he seems to be playing a very tight game I try to look for a reason in the table conditions. Is there a very aggressive player to his left? If that is not the case, and I personally would play a looser style under the given table conditions, I will assume that he is a tight player. So the VPIP and PFR affect how often we should be looking to run big bluffs and make big calls postflop.
Developing reads

Players who are very tight preflop are not opening a ton of hands and not seeing a lot of flops as the preflop caller. By design they are not bluffing as often as a more loose player postflop. This means that we do not need to worry about bluff catching. 77

This observation translates to all other streets. The more honest a player is on one street the less we should seek to bluff catch on the next. When I see the preflop raiser check-fold a flop I try hard to find a reason because if he is check-folding often (is very tight on the flop) there is less air in his range when he c-bets. The questions I ask myself are:

Flop and turn

If that is not the case, and I see the preflop raiser check-fold again, I will assume that his level of honesty on the flop is higher than normal. Question 60: What type of hands should we call his c-bets with? Players with a low c-bet percentage but a reasonable check-call frequency on the flop are often easy to play against if they are not super tricky. Some of the reasons are:

Would I ever check-fold that board texture?

Is the preflop caller a calling station postflop?

Low c-bet percentage

They tend to c-bet the top of their range and air. This leads to a polarized range and they dont have a natural bluff catching range on the turn. Their range is inelastic which means that we can get away with cheap bluff raises on the turn. Too often they give us as the preflop caller complete control over the size of the pot. Unless they are very tricky postflop they dont get enough value from their strong made hands.

Question 61: What would your strategy be if this player has a low turn c-bet percentage?

Question 62: What would your strategy be if this player has a high turn c-bet percentage?
Developing reads


Players who c-bet a high percentage of their hands are often checkfolding the flop when they finally decide to check the flop. The reason is simply that they need to c-bet most of their bluff catchers on the flop for marginal value/protection in order to maintain a high percentage.

High c-bet percentage

The only natural reason for them to check-call the flop is if they expect to get played back at. They check for equity protection.

When I try to develop a strategy against them I look for their tendencies on the turn. Do they check-fold, check-call or double barrel? Their strategy will have its roots in their understanding of calling ranges on different board textures. So in order to figure out how they prefer to play there is no way around paying attention to how they play different board texture types. Do they double barrel dry flops a lot? How big do they bet on the turn on a dry flop? How do they play the turn on a wet flop? Do they follow through with missed draws? What range of hands do they check-call with on the turn?

Dry flops Some players have bet sizing tells on the turn and bluff raising turn c-bets can be a very lucrative and simple strategy. But remember to tell a plausible story. Most players actually have a polarized c-bet range on the turn on dry flop. Against such a range a small raise to fold the air is enough. In general if a players range is polarized bluff raising small is very profitable. In 3-bet pots If a player c-bets a lot in 3-bet pots we can use that to our advantage.
Developing reads

We can call with more hands since we know that he is going to c-bet.


A player with a 3-bet percentage around 5-8% will often have a polarized 3-betting range. This is simply due to the fact that there is no room left for bluffs in his preflop range if we include hands like KJ, KQ, AJ and TT. Question 63: Should we 4-bet bluff preflop? Against a player who 3-bets a polarized range and who tends to c-bet his whole range postflop bluff raising the c-bets is very profitable because on most board textures he has air or a very strong hand and very few bluff catchers. Wet flops If a player double barrels wet board textures a lot he has too many hands that cannot play a big pot (air and weak made hands). Here delayed semi-bluffs, slow playing and bluff catching are our friends.

If he is guilty of 3-betting a polarized range preflop we can bluff raise his c-bet.

If I see a player check-fold a flop, where I would expect a fair amount of check-raises, I will always try to find a reason. If there is not an obvious reason I will make two adjustments.

Check-raise tendencies

Most aggressive players love to check-raise. And it is a strategy that many find hard to combat. But by observing their check-raise tendencies, their calling range from the blinds and combining them with the board textures there is a good chance that we can find textures where they rarely have something. They simply check-raise those board textures because they know that the relative hand strength of almost any hand is pretty poor. Question 64: Can you come up with an example of such a board texture?
Developing reads

1. I will give the player a lot of respect in the future if he check-raises me. 2. I will c-bet every marginal draw.


Question 65: How should we adjust?

Some players are one step ahead of us and that makes it hard for us to expand our bluff catching range. They check-raise a less polarized range by including hands with more marginal value. An example is top pair weak kicker. We need to see some hands at showdown before we can develop such a read. There is a good chance though that he will try to pot control the turn with the bottom of his value range. This should serve as a strong hint.

Players with a balanced check-raise range

Question 66: What strategy should we use against this tendency?

Question 67: What strategy should we use against players who call a lot of check-raises?

Developing reads on the river is in my opinion by far the most complex thing in poker. Not only do we need to analyse how the action and the board texture affected villains range we also have to think about his tendencies on the river. This is why it is crucial that we pay close attention to the hands that get to showdown and how they got there.

The River

Some of the questions we are seeking an answer to as the preflop caller are: Does he value bet thin or does he prefer to check-call the river with hands that rarely get called by worse? Does he check-raise the river for value? Does he merge ranges (bet hands that are ahead of our bluff catching range but too weak to value bet)? Does he follow through with missed draws?

The goal is to figure out how polarized his range is on the river, since that will allow us to figure out if we should bluff catch or bluff raise.
Developing reads

As the preflop raiser we are conversely interested in his tendencies to


bluff catch and bluff raise. Against players who never or rarely bluff raise the river we should value bet thin and often merge our ranges.

The classic spot for range merging is when all draws missed, we have a strong second pair type hand and we bet both flop, turn and river. In this spot we can expect to get looked up light so in order to balance our range on the river (make it less exploitable) we can expand our value range with hands that we cannot bet for true value but which are ahead of villains bluff catching range. Taking good notes is a vital part of mid stakes and highs takes poker. Mental notes are fine, but if you have problems with remembering a lot of details I suggest that you start taking notes. My general recommendations:

Taking Notes

If you are break even start taking notes.

Personally I start by writing down all the basic observations I make. Later I transform them into more general comments and finally I outline an actual strategy where the observations become arguments for my adjustments. Cleaning up notes and turning them into strategies while reviewing sessions is one of the exercises that has helped me the most.

If you are taking a shot take a lot of notes.

If you dont have time to take notes you are playing too many tables.

Because I collect a lot of information during a session, I prefer to clean up my notes when I make the review. Often I take a short break or I may wait until the next day but I try not to start a new session before I have reviewed the last.

Developing reads


Developing reads


1) Watch a member video from and try to develop a read on hero. What seems to be his tendencies? Look at the following aspects of his game:


What range of hands does he raise preflop? How does he defend against 3-bets? How much does he c-bet? Does he donk? Does he fire a lot of second barrels?

Does he make any adjustments to the table conditions? What range of hands does he call with from the blinds?

What tendencies does he have when it comes to 3-betting? What is his check-call range on the flop as the preflop raiser? How does he play from the blinds? Passive or aggressive? Does he slow play a lot? Any bluffs on the river?

How does he play marginal flush draws when he has position? What would your strategy be against him? Bet sizing? Always the same or does he think about his sizing?

2) Pick a player from your database and repeat exercise 1.

3) Play fewer tables than normal on a regular basis where you focus on developing reads.

Developing reads


In this chapter you will find low budget recordings of coaching sessions. Starring Patrik

The Cinema

Playing as the preflop raiser

The cinema


Starring Craig

Adjusting the preflop calling range.

The cinema


Starring 2009 WPT Venice Champ Ragnar

Playing 3-bet pots

The cinema


The cinema