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Extracting Full Value

24/05/2018 by Jonathan Little

I was recently told about a hand that illustrates a common bet sizing mistake that many amateur poker players make on a regular basis. In a $2/$5 nine-handed cash game with $575 effective stacks, first position, third position, lojack, hijack, and small blind all limped. Hero checked J8 from the big blind.

There may be a bit of merit to making a sizable raise to about $50, looking to either pick up the pot preflop or get heads-up against a weak range, but I tend to check my hands that have a decent amount of postflop potential.

The flop came J85, , giving Hero top two-pair. The small blind checked and Hero checked behind.

I am fine with Hero’s check, mainly because there are four players yet to act on a somewhat coordinated board, which makes me think someone will make a bet. If only one or two players were yet to act, Hero should be more inclined to bet because it is too likely the two remaining players will check behind, costing Hero the opportunity to extract value.

Everyone checked to the lojack, who bet $15 into the $30 pot. The small blind, who is known to be a loose, splashy player, raised to $40. Hero reraised to $110.

When facing a bet and a raise, any additional action from Hero will scream strength, so Hero might as well reraise in order to get money in the pot with what is almost certainly the best hand and also to protect his hand against the numerous possible draws. $110 is a fine reraise size, although I would make it a touch larger to cut down on the draws’ implied odds.

Only the small blind called. The turn was the (J85)-K. The small blind checked and Hero bet $125 into the $265 pot.

While betting is certainly a good idea, Hero should bet larger in order to extract additional value from the worse made hands, and to price out the draws. When she bets $125, any hand that has more than 24% equity should call, due to the pot odds. Most decent draws will have roughly the correct price, and most made hands should be quite strong, meaning they will be unwilling to fold to any reasonable bet. I would instead bet $175. While increasing the turn bet by $50 may not seem too important, it will allow Hero to extract more value immediately and also allow her to bet larger on the river due to the increased pot size.

The opponent called. The river was the (J85K)7. The opponent checked and Hero bet $200 into the $515 pot, leaving the opponent with $135 remaining in his stack.

Just like on the turn, Hero should bet larger, all-in in this case. When most of the draws miss, the opponent will be inclined to make a big call with almost all of his made hands. The only time betting less than all-in ($335 into a $515 pot) makes sense is when you are confident the opponent’s range is mostly busted draws or junky one-pair hands, which will usually not be the case.

The opponent instantly called with J-5, for a worse two-pair. While it is difficult to know for sure, betting larger on the turn and river would have likely won Hero an extra $135.