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The Myth of Poker Talent - an extract

14/05/2020 by Alexander Fitzgerald
Book Excerpts
D&B MAGAZINE

The Myth of Poker Talent

Capped Boards

We have discussed capped boards previously, but here we are going to add some details as we analyze them more extensively. If you a recall, a “capped” board is a flop where typically the caller’s range is limited to one pair or worse. This provides ample opportunities to bluff on complicating turns.

An example of a capped board is 689. Many sets, two pairs, and over-pairs would raise on this board because of the sheer number of draws. With shorter stacks most big draws would raise to get it in as well, thus taking advantage of their significant equity before a blank turn halves it. This leaves the flop caller with mostly one-pair-type hands that usually share a card with one on the board. Knowing what they have makes it far easier to go after them.

One tool you can use on a capped board is the over-bet. If the board comes 766 and you know your opponent has flatted with one pair and doesn’t want to fold, then let them have it. “You want to come along, then come along,” you tell them, and make it 1.5x the pot. This is especially effective when the turn is an over-card or completes a draw they would have raised with on the flop.

You need to remember that many people have never faced an over-bet bluff. If they have seen a bet of that size it was an excited player with a set. When they see the overbet those are the thoughts that go through their head. Your hand looks like a set that’s afraid of draws. Better yet, our bet needs to work 60% of the time. Many people feel that over-bets need to work much more. When they see that over-bet failing 30% of the time they think you’re losing monstrous amounts. In reality, you’re laughing all the way to the bank.

This means that you have to over-bet with big hands. When you get ex¬posed you need to remember the exact players at your table. If you’re playing online it’s best to take a note on their profiles with the poker client and then with the Hold’em Manager notes. Better yet, NoteCaddy can take a note for you of what the opponents have seen you do.

There are some very good players who will see through your over-bet play, which is why you don’t see it that often at the highest stakes. Many good players question whether you’d really over-bet a good hand like that. When they realize most players are afraid of losing value with their best holdings then they are capable of jamming over your over-bet.

If you watch high-stakes games you will see Phil Ivey face this play from guys who tore up lower stakes. Everyone is flabbergasted when he jams top pair and no kicker versus the over-bet, but he knows his opponent’s range is a lot of nothing (which could still have equity) and occasionally a big set. To cash out what money the over-betting player has already put out there he jams. Case closed.

When you over-bet you are gambling that your opponent is not going to figure it out, or that he’s likely to let it go because you’re playing silly; it doesn’t reflect poorly on him if he folds to an over-bet, as you’re the one taking ridicu¬lous risks. If you’re up against one of these more intelligent players it is in your best interest to structure your bet sizings differently. Your turn bet should set up the river jam, and you should follow through on the river often.

Many good players see this and immediately think you are going for value. Some of them just fold on the turn, avoiding what to them is the obvious “river value jam.” Others become a little more stingy, thus ensuring that you need to follow through on that final card.

There comes a time when you must turn your hand into a bluff on the turn. Unfortunately, many players are resistant to do this, for example when they have a flush draw. Say you have a heart draw on the K67 board. The turn is the same J which misses you. Your opponent checks to you. There are many people who check here because they feel they are owed something when they have a flush draw. They feel that they deserve to see if it will come in (and they often believe it never comes in enough). Their natural curiosity gets the better of them. They want the big hands. “I don’t know what I’ll do with the draw if I bet and he jams” is what many of them say. So, instead of stacking equity with a bluff that works a great deal of the time and a draw that will hit a certain percentage of the time we are just check¬ing and hoping for the best. You don’t know what you’ll do with the draw? You’ll fold. You usually don’t have the price to call, unless you’re explicitly jamming or nearly jamming the turn. “I don’t know what to do if he jams,” to me translates into, “I don’t want to fold if he jams,” which in turn translates into, “Waaaahh¬hh!!!!!!!” Sometimes we have to bet great hands and fold them. It’s not fun, but it is frequently a better option than checking back. More often than not it is a better play.

If you enjoyed this extract you can pick up a copy of The Myth of Poker Talent HERE