To Bet or Not to Bet

To bet or not to bet… that is the question.

There comes a time in every Poker player’s life when he/she realizes there’s more to the game than the laid back, tight aggressive thing he/she’s had going for a while. Time to leave the basics behind and move on to the next level, both in play and in winnings.

I suppose you’ve all heard the theory about the three types of poker players: the complete newbie who cares nothing if he’s read by the opposition, the intermediate-level player who manages to keep his opponents in the mist, regarding his strategy, and the good player who molds the table according to his will, makes others do what he wants them to.

You just can’t achieve that last stage by playing tight-aggressive, now can you?

If you get to the point that you start pondering about the above discussed matter, you probably already know what you need to do and how you need to change your game to upgrade it.

You need to bet more.

The realization itself is not a tough one to come to, however implementing it is a different matter altogether… Betting too much is a sure way to burry you bankroll, but you need to bet more.. you need to get out there and get the pot, not wait for it to come to you. You will probably lose a quite a lot more than you have before once you adopt this more aggressive strategy, that is, until you figure out when and how to bet.

I’ll try to provide you a few examples of situations in which betting would be the way to go, but remember what it really comes down to is prowess and the right feel for the game.

Imagine that you’re in on a flop not holding really anything of true value ( a gutshot straight maybe or an open ended one) about the same as one of your opponents. You’re thinking: maybe I oughtta limp forth on this one just to see what the turn brings, maybe it’ll hit me on the straight… so you call, and your opponent does as well. You know that, had there been a raise before you, you wouldn’t have limped any further and so does he. The turn brings nothing for you but it does for the opponent in question. You fried yourself. You called the previous bet and now you’ll lose all your pot-equity because of that move you’ve made.

Had you raised yourself, the opponent would’ve folded and you would’ve avoided his almost-back-door straight with one simple gesture, not to mention that you would’ve also taken his pot equity away.

Another example of betting put to use, is the bluff. To illustrate this, i’ll recall my very first succesful bluff ever. Clumsy as it was, it made me understand the power of betting for the first time. As a matter of fact its clumsyness is the very reason I still remember it today.

I had been playing at Titan Poker for about two, maybe two and a half hours, and many of my opponents had been around for just as long. Suddenly,I had a feeling I had them read. For the first time in my online poker career ( up to that point, that is) I figured I had reasons to believe I could estimate their reaction to a bluff. I had been playing tight and aggressive up to that point, and I had indeed racked up a few chips as a result. I was slowly but surely winning. I could afford to throw a few chips into harm’s way and see if I could pull off a bluff. I had nothing in the pocket and the flop didn’t do my hand much good either. It would’ve probably qualified for low in Omaha or something. I limped in on the turn, and as the card hit the board I bet. I bet quite a lot actually, far more than what the pot justified. Anyways, strategically speaking it was not a good move at all, but I just knew I had these guys just where I wanted them. They probably had me read as a tight player too, so the sudden huge bet sent a message as clear as possible to them: the turn hit this guy big. He’ll seweep us all out, so they all folded and I took the pot.

The size of it wasn’t really relevant ( I won about 80-90 bucks on it, risking about 300 in the process..) but the satisfaction I felt that I managed to read them and make them think they knew what I had, was simply elevating.

Don’t do this at home though, ( risk 300 for 90, that is) it’s just plain stoopid. I remember this clumsy bluff so well, because it opened my eyes to the fact that there was poker beyond the tight-aggressive play I only knew up to that point.