Hello, this is John Anhalt for DriveHUD University. And this is Part 2 of how to really make money playing poker. This video is going to be primarily focusing on how to play on the flop. If you haven’t seen Part 1 yet, I highly recommend you check it out. It’s on YouTube and on drivehud.com
Part 3, we are going to be talking about turn and river play. But let’s head into the meat of the material.
00:35 – Home on the Range
So in Part 2 of the series, I’m going to be focusing primarily on how to think about poker. I am going to be looking at the overarching strategies about how to analyze the situation, what kind of things that you should be considering in order to make the best possible decision. So this video is going to be very theory-heavy, but also just give you the framework of how to analyze the situation properly to come to the best possible conclusion.
01:11 – It’s all about hand ranges
So first of all, when you’re trying to analyze a situation, starting on the flop, it’s all about hand ranges. It’s about how your opponent perceives what your hand ranges and what your opponent’s hand ranges.
01:20 – Know your opponents range in a given situation, and what yours should be
So of course with that comes that you should really, really understand ranges. So how do you start becoming really good at understanding opponents’ ranges? Because an opponent’s range is based on all sorts of different kinds of player archetypes, right?
When we are sitting down in a situation where quickly trying to kind of categorize our opponents, whether we’re playing live or online, we’re trying to say, “Is this person more of a tag, a tight-aggressive player, someone who’s kind of a bookish player, super tight, very aggressive?” Whatever that category is that we’re trying to put that person in, that is a starting point of how it’s going to affect their range.
01:58 – Knowing your opponents range starts with pre-flop mastery
Then next we have, what was the pre-flop action. So knowing ranges really well really starts with having that pre-flop mastery that we talked about in the first video. How to understand what ranges of hands is you’re pulling out, likely going to raise from each position. If you’re in a six-max cash game or a nine-handed, 10 handed tournament, or at a forehand and table, whatever the situation is, what is that person’s range given the situation?
So if they open raise from middle position, what is likely that kind of opponents range. So you start with a baseline general situation of okay, someone like doesn’t know any for any information at all and I’m in a wind tunnel. This is probably what someone’s range is going to look like.
And then as you are gathering more information on your opponent and you start to understand a little bit about their tendency or what kind of player they are, for example, if they’re tight, then you know there are certain hands that you can start eliminating from that opponent’s range and vice versa if they’re aggressive.
So it has to start with really being good understanding pre-flop situations. And that’s when someone’s open raising, when someone’s cold calling, when someone’s three-betting, four betting, when there’s a limp in front of them, how often are they isolating the players in front of them, how often they are over cold calling. So on all those things factor into what an opponent’s range is.
03:35 – NEVER say never
And when you’re analyzing, you’re trying to figure out what your opponent’s ranges. Never say that your opponent is not going to have this hand. Okay? I mean, yes, if someone is super tight and the flop is nine deuces, four, then you can probably eliminate four deuces and nine deuces and stuff like that. But in general, I would really highly recommend not saying that they will never have this hand. You can wait to that hand range and say they will most likely never have this range.
But if they’re acting in accordance with something that tells you as you get onto layer streets that they might have the hand you have to consider it, you know, even if it stretches that opponent’s range or doesn’t totally make sense. Never say never. Right?
04:26 – When compiling ranges, always consider some hands that likely shouldn’t be there but fit your opponents actions
So that goes right into this last point is just, start with that standard baseline approach of what that opponent’s range is going to be from a wind tunnel perspective. Add in what it is based on kind of how much you’ve been able to gather about their information and fit them into a category of what type of player they are.
And then what was the action that preceded them? Was it, there was no raises? There was more than one raise. Was there a limp in front of them and so on? That starts to construct a range. So you start constructing what their ranges and then based on what the decision that you make in the hand, how do you think your opponent thinks your ranges? Those two things have to be understood. That’s square one of flop play.
05:20 – Improve your Range Knowledge
So like you just take a quick pause and ask yourself, “On a scale of one to 10, how would I rate my hand range knowledge? My ability to assess my opponent’s range? And how they perceive my range?” So 10 being the best. You’re always nailing it. You’ve got it 100%. To 1, I need a lot of freaking help. So somewhere in there, just give yourself a number.
05:47 – Post hands with ranges in forums.
Then your next question should be how do I improve that knowledge? And there’s a lot of different ways. Like I was saying in the first video as well, you want to be smart about how you’re investing your time.
My opinion is the best way to improve your hand range knowledge is after you play and you look at difficult hands or you didn’t really, maybe you had some questionable calls or you were able to get to showdown and the hand that the person showed up with wasn’t what you’re expecting, those are the kinds of hands you want to definitely post. But even anything that you have a question about, you want to post. But I would start with some of those.
06:28 – Ask others, does this range seem correct?
And then ask other good poker players in poker forums, poker friends that you have. What do you think are those points’ ranges? That’s where you want to start. You really want to start nailing down that aspect. And then you have to think, how are they seeing my range? Both of those things are critical.
06:52 – Answer other people’s post and offer your hand ranges
So posting in forums, and then answering other people’s posts in forums. Reddit, Two plus two, cardschat. Whatever your poker forum of choices, answering other people’s and putting a range. Don’t just give random advice about what they should or shouldn’t do.
I’d always say focus on the range because even if you’re taking a hand and you’re analyzing it, say with a solver, I see a lot of people even default hand ranges and stuff that people are trying to solve a situation from that are really wrong. I see it constantly. On a daily basis, multiple times. When I’m browsing through forums, I see a lot of incorrect assumptions and a lot of nevers, which I was just talking about that you really want to avoid.
So take some of those hands, answer other people’s, and really focus on providing range. And saying, “Okay, does this range make sense?” Because if you can’t agree on a range, everything else isn’t going to make much sense. How you’re approaching the hand, whether you should be betting or turning your hand to a bluff, all those things – you have to understand that, so you can understand equity, right?
And I didn’t mention that earlier, if you don’t already get an equity calculator, Ace Poker Drills has a free equity calculator, there’s echo labs, there’s a lot of different tools out there to take a range of hands, punch them in, and then get what your equity is in any given poker situation.
If you use DriveHUD, that’s all internal and built-in and you can just right-click on a hand and it’ll punch up. It’ll even auto range a situation for you which that, it’s not a perfect solution, but it’ll give you a kind of a basis to start using this kind of process that I told you that you’re starting from. What kind of player, what was the pre-flop action, what position were they raising from or calling from, etc.
So take that and then refine it. Get other people’s feedback and keep an open mind, right? Keep an open mind and continue to refine. And as you do this, you will find that it will get better and easier and you’ll just start knowing this stuff. It’ll become second nature and you’ll really be able to nail down exactly where someone’s range is. And as you get better, also in player typing and understanding what kind of opponent you’re facing, you can really narrow down that range pretty fine.
You don’t ever want to really try and say that person has King of hearts, Jack of clubs kind of thing. That’s pretty ridiculous in general. But there are some times that you can really get it down to a couple of different hands, but that’s the exception. And in general, you just want to focus on how do I extrapolate this into a range?
And as you start on the flop, the range is going to be fairly wide. And as you get to the turn and river, you’re going to refine that. But in the first place, start with the flop. Get better by asking questions to fellow poker players, post in forums. That’s going to be the quickest way to improve in this area.
10:25 – Capped vs. Uncapped Ranges
Next, I want to talk about capped versus uncapped hand ranges. You may have heard these terms, you may know 100% what they mean or have a vague understanding. If you have a vague understanding or you don’t know at all, I’d say that this is one the most important places that you need to start and understanding how you should plan your attack in a hand.
So it should start with once whatever happens pre-flop, you get to the flop, you look at the flop and you think, “How capped is my opponent’s range? How capped does my hand range look?”
And basically capped means that you have a set of hands that are basically medium strength hands. One pair of hands, basically not super strong hands.
Uncapped means it could be a pretty wide range, like very wide. I’m going to go into a couple of examples here in the next slide.
11:19 – Avoid having a capped range versus good opponents
So, essentially you just want to avoid having capped ranges as much as possible because the more capped ranges, the more susceptible to bluffs you are, the more predictable your play and range looks. So you want to do things to avoid that as much as possible.
11:35 – Attack capped ranges versus weak opponents. Especially ones that can fold.
So, again, I’m going to talk a little bit more about that in the next slide here. But you want to attack capped ranges when your opponents have them, and go after, especially opponents that can fold more often tighter opponents. Opponents have shown that they’re not going to be making big hero calls any of that kind of information. But in general, even if you don’t have a ton of that information, if your punch range looks capped, you want to attack that as much as possible in a way that tells a believable story.
12:08 – Mix your calling and 3-betting ranges when you build history with opponents
So to avoid having a capped range, you really want to mix in your calling in three betting ranges as you build history with your opponent. I kind of mentioned this in the first part of this video series. I always recommend to just play your hand or whatever way is going to yield the highest expected value.
And then as you start building history, worry about balancing your range, playing a more game theory optimal strategy. I would say just focus on whatever is going to yield the highest EV play. I’m talking about bet sizes, all those types of things that factor into that. Don’t worry about any giving away anything about your hand ranges until you really start building up history with your opponents.
So, let’s take a look at a couple of examples of capped and uncapped ranges.
13:01 – Capped Range Example 1
Let’s take look at this capped range example here. So your opponent open raises 2.5x BB UTG in a 6 max cash game. Your opponent’s RFI% from UTG is 11%. So, that’s (66+ /ATo+ /ATs+ /KTs+). You call on the button. Flop comes three of spades, five of hearts, six of spades.
So your first question right when you’re looking at this flop is who has the range advantage? You might have heard this term also range advantage. And what that means is who’s going to likely, as this board runs out, going to have an advantage and representing a hand here.
So if we look at our opponents’ range, they’re not going to muscle. You’ll be having one pair of hands. They are not going to have two pair. They’re only going to have one possible set here instead of sixes. They’re not going to have threes or fives. I mean they’re going to have some overpairs, a lot of offsuit stuff, not a whole lot of, almost no straight draws, right? And very few flush draws. There’ll be some flush draws in there.
So you calling on the button are going to have a big range advantage here because you will have called with more small pairs, threes, fives, sixes, sevens and more flush draws, two pair of hands, like five six, six seven, seven eight, four straight draws and so on. So what that means is also at the turn comes to seven, you can represent six-seven more than your opponent can represent that hand, right?
So as this hand or if a spade hits, you can represent that, although your opponent can have that, this is a situation where if you do decide that one of the things you’re going to do is represent a flush draw, your opponent can’t have that. And again this depends how the action plays out, but overall you’re going to be able to represent sets, straights, two pairs, things that your opponent can’t. And those are going to hit a whole lot more here than your opponent’s one pair of hands improving.
So you have a range advantage even though your opponents is most likely going to have an equity advantage over you here. So, that’s huge cause you have position. So your position is going to increase your equity realization, which means you’re going to be able to determine how much more often you get to showdown because you have a positional advantage.
But your opponent initially is going to generally have an equity advantage here, but you can, by applying a lot of pressure and having position, show that your range advantage will have hit here harder.
Now, this, of course, becomes complicated when your opponents say they have 11% or 12% raise for under the gun, but they show a propensity to open five-six, six-seven and things like that. And that’s why that part of understanding how to mixing your ranges becomes important.
But in general, we’re using a rough, again, wind tunnel example, we don’t expect a lot of opponents under the gun are going to be opening five-six, six-seven and so on. So anyways, in general, you’re going to have a range advantage. It’s not going to be a huge advantage, but it’s going to be a range advantage.
17:00 – Capped Range Example 2
Alright, next example, your opponent open raises from MP 2.5BB (14% RFI) in a full ring cash game. You call in the big blind. Flop comes King of diamonds, seven of hearts, two spades. Who has a range advantage here?
So you should be saying your opponent because you’re not going to have really strong one pair of hands like Ace-King. You might have King-Queen or you would discount that. You’d have some sets, but your opponent’s going to also likely have at least a couple of those sets overpair hands. And then so on. There’s no real straight or flush draws here.
So your opponent has a range advantage and they have a position advantage. So, this is a spot where you shouldn’t be looking to bluff. So you understand that once you start with understanding where your opponent’s ranges and how they perceive your ranges, then you’re looking at who has the range advantage given this flop texture, what kind of represent. And if you combine that with position advantage, that’s when you should be making decisions of “This is a hand, I should be bluffing.”
That’s kind of the main essence of how to start winning without having always had the best hand. So you’re looking at ways to really bluff your opponents off better hands. And then that does go to another level. Once you know that your opponent understands that and you start playing higher, higher stakes.
But the first part of this, especially most players in micro and small stakes games and even some mid-stakes games don’t really understand this very, very well or they don’t consider the intricacies of how this plays out once you are looking to flop. So you see your first thing is what’s my opponent’s range? How does my opponent perceive my range? Now I see the flop, who has a range advantage? That should be the thought process and then you go from there.
So look at a couple uncapped examples here next.
19:18 – Uncapped Range Example
Let’s take a look at one uncapped range example. So your opponent open raises and the cut off to two and a half times the big blind. This can be in a six-max cash game, full ring term, it doesn’t really matter. And you three-bet to eight big blinds on the button. Flop comes, four of hearts, King of hearts, Ace of clubs. Who has a range advantage? This hopefully should be obvious. You three-betting on the button have the range advantage here.
And so first off, our cut off, we know someone open raising in the cut off is going to open with a wide range. And you three betting on the button to someone who opened raised in the cut off are going to have wide ranges. So we start off with two wide ranges that creates more possibilities to have a more uncapped range.
Most importantly, the flop here, even though we’re going to also have a wide three-bet range for our opponents wide open here, we know that we can still legitimately represent a big hand because you’re going to do this with part of that wide range is going to contain strong hands. Like a set of Aces, a set of Kings, Ace-King, Ace-Queen. And because you can have a wide range, you can also represent hearts, if third heart comes to your flush. There’s a lot of hands.
Whereas, your opponent just flatting out of position, can’t represent Aces Kings, Ace-King quite as often. That doesn’t mean that sometimes they won’t still play those hands pre-flop and decided to just call. But again, in a wind tunnel scenario, when I say most of the time, people are going to be four betting those hands. So, how we would weigh those hands becomes very small. Again, we don’t say never that they won’t have Ace-King or something, but generally speaking, being out of position, most people are going to elect to four-bet those hands.
So you’re going to have the range advantage because you can represent the stronger set of hands and it’s going to be much harder for them to represent something more than a single pair here. So they might be able to represent Ace-Queen, Ace Jack, King Queen and so on. But it can be very difficult for them to represent sets and two pair here, other than maybe if they decided to flat call it some Ace or suit or something. But, you have the uncapped range here.
Now, if we actually put in hands here, if you had something like seven-eight of hearts, you would do yourself a favor by three-betting that a large percentage of the time because you can still represent these big hands while hopefully improving to a flush as you get to the turn of the river versus if you just called with that same seven-eight of hearts.
It’s much more difficult now to represent Ace-King and things of that nature. You see how that works. Now you give yourself more possibility to represent bigger hands and you don’t pigeonhole yourself into a more capped range of Ace Jack, maybe Ace-Queen and things of that nature. So, the wider and more uncapped your ranges, the more you can represent. So you don’t have to rely on just making a hand.
22:59 – On the Flop – Board Texture
So with deciding who has the range advantage, you should be looking at the actual board texture. So that goes along with knowing who has a range advantage and analyzing, as a super wet, dry, really broadway heavy, paired and so on. So if you’re not familiar with some of these terms, real quick, super wet would be something like Ace nine ten with two hearts. This is really connected. There’s lots of straight flush, all these different possibilities that could happen.
Wet, which means there are some draws, some hands can be there, but it’s not already going to be a made hand. 10 Jack, three, four, five Jack with two clubs. Those are kind of wet, but not super wet.
Dry means there’s not really a whole lot of connected cards. There’s no possibility for straights or flushes.
Broadway heavy. So you have two or more broadway cards. Queen, King, four here, paired, pretty common sense. So you want to take a look at that and that’s going to be a part of now who has the range advantage, what am I going to be looking to represent? Can I tell a story that is going to be consistent with that range? And is that going to make sense to do?
If you have a made hand, poker is easy. So, I’m talking mainly about when you don’t have a main hand, which is a majority of the time, what’s going to be your plan? Are you going to be able to get your punch to fold a better hand? Are you going to be able to backdoor yourself into a really good hand? Or, are you going to be able to represent a hand in a way that it’s going to be consistent enough to get your opponent to fold their capped hand range? That’s what you need to be asking yourself as you’re going through and looking at the flop and figuring out like, “What am I doing?”
If I have no possibility here, my range is pretty capped. I don’t have a lot of equity in my hand here. I probably am not ahead of my opponent’s range and can’t really represent anything. Those are the check folds or the faults or whatever. But you have to make sure that you’re really looking at this because every hand is an opportunity to win the pot.
25:35 – Capped Ranges + Board Texture
Now we put those two things together, board texture, uncapped my opponent’s ranges. And then we decide are we going to be looking to bluff. Or do we have a hand that has showdown value?
So a couple of things to know are, like in some of our examples, if the board is very broadway heavy and you’re not to the pre-flop raiser, it’s much more difficult to bluff on that kind of flop texture, right?
Low coordinated board though much easier to bluff when you’re the caller. So those are things you want to keep in mind.
Now, of course, again, that doesn’t mean you need to always be doing this or always be bluffing or whatever, but you need to understand and kind of know when there’s the higher possibility for success. Right? That’s what we’re looking for.
What other situations have the higher degree of success? And those are the ones that we’re going to pick based on how active we’ve been at the table, what the flow of the game is, kind of how our plan is playing, so on. If our opponents really tilty and maybe they have some kind of weak made hand, we don’t want to look to bluff them off their hand because they’re probably going to call down a whole lot more because they’re tilting and they don’t really care and they’re not making totally rational decisions and they’re looking to hopefully win any kind of pot.
Versus someone who’s shown a history of being able to fold hands and things like that. And isn’t opening super wide in spots that maybe certain, more looser and aggressive players might. On a little chlorinated board, if we can represent a hand that comes in on the term of the river, then we do that.
Another situation is a super wet board and a three-bet pot. When you’re the caller in position, it’s much easier to bluff. The common scenario there being is you open raise in the cut off for the button and one of the blinds, three bets you and you call in position. Again, this is opponent dependent and so there are other factors right, when we start with someone’s range.
But that’s a three-bet pots on a chlorinated wet board that you can float and wrap because your opponents will be in a difficult spot because they’re out of position and they should technically have a stronger range from not containing as many draws.
As in the small blind today, of course, you have some ponds that will three-bet, seven eight suited and sometimes even from the big line, and hands like that. But in general, that’s a spot that can be very profitable for bluffs.
So I always try and caveat everything because as you know, poker is not exact, there’s no static answers here. But that’s a situation to be cognizant of, to look for. “Okay, well, should I just fold his hand that I completely whiffed?” There might be a good possibility of stealing this because of the flop texture and the pre-flop action.
29:00 – Have a plan
I always emphasize to my students, have a plan. Even if that plan doesn’t yield the results that you are hoping or expecting, you can always go back later and analyze your plan and the hand. And say, “Did this make logical sense based on what I was trying to do in my opponent’s range, my range so on?” But have a plan. And you can modify that plan later.
You absolutely have to, but once you hit that flop, have a plan. That means plan your bet sizing. Are you just going to double barrel? And so you should bet this size here on the flop and then large on the turn. Or are you going to be triple barreling? What is your plan?
29:46 – Don’t just click buttons
And think in terms of texture and range like we were just talking about. Okay? Don’t just click buttons. Don’t be a button clicker. That’s losing poker. Have that plan. If you bet, know what your plan is versus a raise. If you have a good value hand, know what your opponent is. And is the turn going to ruin your value hand? Then you should be betting accordingly or check-raising accordingly.
When you have a strong value hand that you want to get value from, you got to think, “How am I going to get the most value here”? When you have a hand that doesn’t have a whole lot of equity, but you have good bluffing equity, know how you’re going to structure your bets on the turn and the river. Make sure you’re considering your punt stack size. All these things have to go into account with your plan.
A good plan has to have all the steps from the flop to the river. It’s not just, “Okay, well my plan is I have a top pair and so I’m gonna bet half pot.” That’s going to be losing poker. I can tell you that the pros that are winning at a high rate and everybody, they’re not ever thinking like that. They’re considering every action and what’s going to happen if their raise or their opponent checks behind on the turn. All those things have to be considered.
31:16 – Bet SIZING
I mentioned bet sizing earlier. One of my biggest bet pet peeves, when I used to coach, was watching people just click the half pot bet buttons on sites. And ask them, “Well, why are you deciding to bet that size?” And it wouldn’t be a whole lot of really good reasons or it’d be like, “Oh, I have top pair.” You need to consider all the different factors.
And I would say have ideally around three bet sizes, maybe even four. But to start, start with two. And I generally recommend with most people one third pot size and three quarters.
So, on wet board, when you are the one with a draw. Or on super dry boards where you have top pair plus and your opponent doesn’t have very much. And also in three bet pots, bet one-third of the pot.
On very coordinated boards, when you have top pair plus or where you have a big hand and your opponent likely has a big hand, bet three-quarter pots. And again, when you’re playing against fish and whales and what have you, very even out of the half you can get a pot size bet or even an over pot size bet called, you’ve seen that these players won’t fold, then do that. Don’t worry about staying within a strict framework, vary based on what you’re observing, the kind of player against and so on.
So if you do have a big hand and you are pretty confident your opponent also has a big hand, continue to bet large, don’t rigidly stick into a certain framework. You want to get as much money into the pot as possible. So, again, I’d recommend starting with two varying pot sizes, but then as you understand more the nuances, add in over bet, pot size bet and slowly continue worrying about that. But start with two so that you understand kind of how your opponents are going to react, what you can get away with, what kinds of hands you should be betting and so on.
33:25 – Bet SIZING Example 1
Let’s take a look at a couple of examples. So you open raise on the button with Ace-Queen offsuit and big blank calls and the flop comes Ace-Queen four. You’d be betting you’re a three quarter pot size bet, all three streets here. If your opponent has an Ace, they’re obviously going to call at least one or two streets if they have a Queen. They are going to call at least one street if they have a four. So you want to get as much money in it as possible.
Ideally also, if they turn two pair, you’re going in and felting them. So you wanna bet as much as possible. And this goes back to a point in the first video. Don’t worry about your game theory optimal sizing and what hand ranges you’re going to bet three quarters on this board texture, yada, yada. Only concern yourself with that as you build history here.
Right now, if you have a hundred and something hands with your opponent in this spot, you should be looking to get max value. Don’t be concerned about, “Well I should bet half pot because a lot of times I’m going to have a queen or a four or nothing and I want to…” No. Just get as much money into the pot as possible.
34:36 – Bet SIZING Example 2
Second example, you open raise and under the gun with Aces and the button calls, the flop comes, deuce Ace five. So here you completely crushed this board, right? Your plan is probably not going to have very much, you want and hopefully get them to call at least one street with if they have a pair of sixes, some kind of mid pair of five.
If they do happen to pair with the last Ace in the deck, you could size up as you get into the turn of the river depending on how the turn plays out. But this spot where you crush a board. Your opponent probably isn’t going to have much of a hand. You want to either give them a chance to do something stupid or just call one or two streets with really not much of a hand.
35:26 – Bet SIZING Example 3
Last example here, so your opponent open raises from middle position and you three-bet from the small blind with Ace, Jack of hearts. Flop comes three, four, Jack, this is spot again in a three-bet pot, you flop top pair. There’s not a whole lot of draws out here.
You should bet one-third pot because you want your opponent to call with their Ace-Queen, all their AceX hands that missed a lot of their mid pair hands and then you can size up again on the turn of the river. But this is a good spot to implement a one third pot size bet.
And if you’re comfortable, again alternating like I said, ideally you want to have three and four bet sizes. You could go half pot here, but I wouldn’t recommend going too much more in a three-bet pot when you just have top pair, top kicker here.
36:24 – Backdoor Beauties
Let’s talk a bit about backdoor outs. I love me some backdoor outs. This used to be pretty much my bread and butter when I was looking in ideal board textures to float on. And people have been catching onto this over the last several years, a whole lot more about how to really exploit opponents who are folding a lot of their range too often.
Now with a lot more game theory, people are folding less, so it’s not as profitable as it used to be, but still very profitable, especially against the right opponents. But essentially, what I would implore you to do is if you’re looking to re-steal a pot when you whiff, do this when you have some really good backdoor outs, especially flushes to the nuts. So you have the Ace of whatever.
And if you can add in some backdoor straight draws, things of that nature over cards, all those things are great. And ideally, you want to flow in position. Reason should be obvious in position. You’re going to be able to control how the hand goes a lot more than your opponent.
I would recommend not floating and trying to do this out of position unless you really understand your opponent’s range really, really well and you have a good read on what’s going on and kind of how the table’s playing, then you can sometimes look to flow out of position, which is you’ve called a raised pre-flop, you check on the flop, your opponent bets.
You don’t really have a made hand, but you have some good backdoor outs and you call. Now the plan would be here that on the turn you bet back into your opponent. People sometimes call this a stop and go. I used to recommend this over 13, 14 years to people and poker community used to say, “This was so bad. You shouldn’t be doing this.”
And now it’s probably 10 years later, kind of caught on a lot more and more people are doing it and realizing, “Well, yes, actually it’s pretty profitable.” These are good spots to do, especially, when you’re calling out the blinds. I’ve done several videos and content about calling out of the blinds with Ace high, floating out of position and then docking into your opponent on the turn again, then they’ll fold. It’s amazing how well it works. If you understand, again, your opponent’s hand range and board texture, you’re going to be able to do this quite successfully.
Now when you do end up getting your backdoor outs to hit and you get there by the river, bet large because backdoor outs are not something that people are actively looking at, right? So if the flop comes with two flush cards and then by the river, that third flush shows up and all of a sudden you spring into action, you bet really large, people are going to be like, “Well, probably hit it flush.” They’re going to fold a lot more their weaker range.
But in situations where that comes in via backdoor, and so the backdoor in case I didn’t really a clearly defined that is when the turn in the river create cards that end up making you a hand by the river, then you get paid. Because your implied odds are much larger. People don’t tend to see those come in quite as often and put that together.
So you want to exploit that by bending really large and getting paid. I always recommend at least a pot size bet. Sometimes you can over-bet. It depends again on the situation, how strong you think your opponent’s hand is. There are going to be times where you’re not going to want to do that at all, your opponents are showing they really have nothing and you might want to bet something smaller to kind of induce them to either bluff or call if they’re really weak, third pair, fourth pair, whatever it is.
But in general, bet large, make sure that this is part of the plan when you hit the flop. “Do I have backdoor outs? Especially backdoor outs, the nuts?” Those are ones that create for better floating opportunities, more profitable floating opportunities.
40:40 – Check/call Lead
Let’s take a look at an example, check call lead line. Sometimes also called stop and go. Although usually when people say stop and go, they are referencing tournaments and that’s where your opponents open raises, call out of the blind, check-call on the flop and then jam the turn.
I’m not advocating a jam on the turn here unless it makes sense and you’re short or something like that. This is generally to be used, can be used in tournaments or cash games, just as a way to add some deception out of your play, out of the blinds and to re-steal some pots, float out of position.
You’ll be able to mix in some value hands this way too, but we’re going to look at when you actually don’t have a hand. So this is mainly an effective line with some marginal hands or bluffs. Most effective when you’re defending versus an open steal from the cutoff or a button.
Take a look at an example and this will make more sense. So button open raises two and a half times a big blind and you defend in the big blind with Ace five of clubs. Flops comes, deuce of clubs, seven spades, Queen of hearts.
Rainbow, nothing really here. You didn’t flop anything. You may very well have the best hand. Do you want to check call two streets with Ace high? Probably not a very profitable strategy versus most opponents. Especially if you’re looking at any reasonable decent regular in your game.
But you do have a couple of things going for you, right? You have the backdoor club flush draw to the nuts and backdoor straight draws. So those are both great and could very well also have an overcard with an Ace. One pair could turn a hand into a better hand or if an opponent has Ace Jack or something.
So this is a great flop to go ahead and check, button is going to c-bet most of their range here and you just call. So, again, you could just have the best hand here. But without going into merging your range strategy and everything like that, just the basics here are you can now re-steal the turn, your opponent play doesn’t have much of a hand. If they have pack of fours, pack of five, it’s going to put them in a weird situation.
And even pack of sixes, even if they have seven X or whatever, it’s going to put them in a weird spot. They’re probably still going to call some of the time with that. But you just check-calling there and leading the turn is going to make them have to make those decisions without knowing what you’re going to do on the river.
And they have a Queen obviously in a call. If they have a better than a Queen, you’re going to find out. But in general, this is something that you want to imply when it makes sense. These conditions have to be met. You have really good backdoor draws. I would recommend just looking for when you have a nut, flush, backdoor draw, usually you’ll have some kind of backdoor straight draw too most of the time. Something like that.
And again, even more ideal when you probably even have an overcard, all those factors come into play because say the turn comes four of clubs, the turn comes in Ace. That’s potentially really good too. Although there are occasionally some reverse implied odds. If your opponent did have something like Ace Jack, you’re going to end up by calling another street or betting the river and losing your hand. But regardless, most of the time as we know, our opponent is not going to have something here. They’re opened with a wide range on the button.
And this was a very dry board. So usually you’re going to be able to re-steal this pot. This is a way to create some deception at a position. So you’re not just always in check-call mode, check call-mode. You can mix in some.
So you also balanced this eventually as you build history with your opponent, with sometimes betting with your Queen on the turn. So say you defended with Queen, King or whatever, you check-call on the flop and then you lead on the turn. Or you know, even sets things of that nature. But, I’m talking specifically when you don’t flop a hand and you aren’t just looking to check-call multiple streets with Ace or King high or something. This is an effective strategy to re-steal some pots.
45:19 – Donking the Flop
And since we were talking about donking the turn, we might as well talk about donking the flop. Don’t do this too often. There are good times to do this. I would say multi-way, when you’re at a position, you have top pair of better super coordinated board. You should donk that a heavy percentage of time. Sets, top pair, two pairs, stuff like that.
Primarily because as there are more players in the pot, the pre-flop raiser is going to be bluffing less. And still, people in between you and the pre-flop raiser, let’s say when starting the action on the flop, so you’re as at a position as you can be and you have three other people in the pot by the end. And the last person in that pot is the pre-flop raiser.
So if that’s the case, those are situations you 100% should be donking into your pre-flop raiser because they’re going to be checking behind a whole lot of hands and you don’t want to allow people, when you already have a smaller percentage of equity because there are more people in the pot, you don’t want to allow them to get free cards to make better hands.
So, bet in those situations, if it’s two other people and you’re in the sandwich spot, sometimes you can still check two pre-flop raiser but in general, the more coordinated, the more multi-way, you should go ahead and just bet into the pre-flop raiser. That’s donking by the way, if you’re not familiar with the term.
Preflop raiser, usually as we know, C bets. So if you are the ones who’s the cold caller pre-flop and you don’t sit up checking, just decide to bet. That’s donking. So don’t donk heads up very often. There can be times to do this. In general, I wouldn’t recommend it, not on the flop. It can be an effective tool to induce raises when you have a big hand.
So, if you’re against a regular, and I would recommend this only primarily against regulars. And they raise, you defend, you’re out a position. You flop a big hand, say a set or two pair, especially if it’s bottom two pair where they’re going to likely either still have top pair or they’re going to just possibly bluff because they don’t like the fact that you bet end to them.
You can bet something like one-third of the pot. Going back to our two bet sizes. And allow them to possibly just make a lot of mistakes. Raise with air, raise with only top pair, things of that nature. Those are ways to build a big pot when you have a big hand, which is what you want to do in poker.
48:20 – Review
And now we have reached the end, my friend. I hope you gained at least a couple of nuggets here that you can apply to your own game. Like I said at the start of the video, I really wanted to focus on how to think about poker and overall theory and I wanted to focus on areas that are a little more difficult, nuanced about the game, especially when you’re not making hands.
Poker is fairly easy when you actually have made hands, but the difference between a marginal win rate or a losing player is what you do when you’re not making hands and how you’re really thinking about how to win pots that you probably shouldn’t have.
That’s what separates. I mean, when you have a big hand, you’re going to win most of the time, you’re going to suffer some bad beats. But the difference is how you’re winning the pots that you probably shouldn’t win. And I hope this gave you some ideas to kind of think a little deeper about the game.
49:18 – Work to improve your hand range knowledge
So number one part that we had talked about was understanding hand ranges. Not just what your opponent’s hand ranges but how they perceive your hand range. Do a lot of work there. Spend time, I asked you to kind of rate yourself on a scale of one to 10. Hopefully you remember that. And this will motivate you to spend a little more time and improve there. And I would say go back and re-rate yourself, make sure you made some positive progress.
49:46 – Understand when your opponents or your range is capped
Understand when your opponent’s range is capped. Right? We talked about when you should understand and see that and then you need to attack that. And sometimes that includes taking made hands that you have and turn them into bluffs. But they need to be bluffs because your opponent has a strong top pair, but it’s usually not more than that single pair. So you want to attack those, get them to fold those hands.
50:18 – Board Texture! + Capped ranges
Board texture plus capped ranges. Those are the two things we want to be really looking at right away on the flop so that we can create a plan.
50:28 – Have a plan, and plan your sizing
And we want to have a plan about how we’re going to size. Where we’re going to be just doubling, tripling, checking one’s street, how many streets of value can we get? All those things need to go in right on the flop and have that plan so that you know what happens and what you want to do if your opponent decides to raise. Know what your answer’s going to be ahead of time before you make that bet.
51:00 – Backdoor outs are your friend
Backdoor outs are a re-stealing pot player’s best friend. Make sure that you’re paying attention to those. Don’t just toss a hand because you didn’t flop at least a pair or something. Take a look and see, does a situation fit to be able to re-steal this pot on a later street?
51:20 – Check/Call lead and donking
And like we just said that in here, check/call lead and donking. Implement those. They’re great strategies. Don’t overdo them. But let’s say you can win an extra pot or an extra two per session, think about how much that’s going to add to your win rate long term. But I would say don’t put a factor on it. Maybe some sessions you have where it never makes sense to do this one time. That’s fine. But start to be aware, right?
Awareness as a first step. You’re aware, you see potential situations and experiment and be open to sometimes things are not going to go right even if you implement them exactly how you want to, but just don’t give up. Being better at poker is continuing to experiment and think about situations and ways that are different than when you have been doing. That’s the only way you improve. You have to start changing how you’re approaching situations.
52:15 – Thank You!
And I wish you the best of luck in these games. Again, I would also implore you, if you have feedback or questions, put them down here in the comments section.
If you share this video, I get to make more of these. And I’ll try and put as much attention and energy into the things. And I take requests as well. And we’ll cover as many topics.
Part three of this series, again, is going to go into turn river strategy. And look forward to seeing you there.