Situational Betting Style – When to Change Your Poker Betting Strategy.
If poker players only played their cards and bet only when they had good ones, betting would be easy. If that was the case then players would not need a poker strategy. Betting In that case would be simple and the word Bluff would not be part of the lexicon. But that is not the brand of poker the Riverboat gamblers began spreading around the country. Instead they developed a style of betting and playing hands that was as dependent on the situation, the other players’ actions, and even the unconscious signs in their opponents’ behavior instead.
In this article I wanted to address the situational portion of that equation, as there are many situations where you should bet a hand that you would normally avoid, depending on a number of factors. The following are some of the situations that frequently arise in Poker:
Let’s start with ‘Bluffing’, as this seems to be one of the most fancied moves in poker by amateurs. Anyone who has watched a World Series of Poker tournament on TV has seen some pro win a pot with a terrible hand. Few understand that in order to do that requires a lot of ‘setup’, including a history of playing strong hands, the right position in the rotation, and a correct reading of their opponents hand strength. This move is far less effective in Limit games or low stakes games because there is usually at least one player that will have something, and the cost of calling is low enough to call.
If you have played any poker at all, one of the first strategies you have fallen prey to is the ‘Check-Raise’. In this situation someone has a very good hand, and instead of being aggressive and betting early they let someone else take the lead, and they just call, often acting reluctant to do so. Then after giving other players time to make some kind of hand, they first ‘check’ to the original betters, and then when the betting returns to them they raise them back. Now the others have invested so much in the pot that it is difficult to fold and the cost of seeing whether this is a bluff or not becomes expensive. Sometimes everyone checks because they have weak hands, and in this case the pot would not increase. In that case this strategy would have back-fired.
When you are the last to play in rotation, you have an opportunity to ‘Steal the Blind’ or ‘Steal Raise’. In this situation all the players before you have only called or checked if they are one of the ‘blinds’. A bet at this point may result in everyone folding if their hands were weak, and at a minimum will push out the weaker hands. If you do this with a good set of starter cards then there is little risk in this move, but if your cards are also weak, then you may later become a victim of the ‘check-raise’ we already discussed.
Another strategy is the ‘Opener’. This is the mirror of the ‘Steal Raise’, where as the first to act you raise. This move will push a lot of players off their hands, as the cost of just seeing the Flop goes up. This risky move will leave only players with good starter cards in the hand, or aggressive players so watch out. If you are going to use this move, do it when fewer players are in the hand.
‘Squeezing’ is one of the most used and effective betting strategies in poker. When you have a good hand and you think your opponent is looking to draw a hand, then be aggressive in your betting. At a minimum you will make them pay to draw, and you are giving them a message you have something.
If your objective is to create a solid poker strategy, betting style in the right situation is key. Playing solid cards is a prerequisite to making these situations work for you.