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Pot Limit & No Limit Poker : Play Poker

TAKING THE INITIATIVE

    At any form of poker, initiative is important. This importance assumed magnified proportions at big-bet poker. A bet or raise becomes more powerful play when you have bet enough in proportion to the pot due to which many types of hand are forced to fold.

    You can win a lot of pots without much of a fight by the virtue of aggressiveness. At pot-limit poker and no-limit poker, initiative is extremely important. The most aggressive action possible at that time is taken by the poker player who bets or raises.

    Thus, he has an unlimited hand. There is a possibility of him holding mortal nuts. In theory, the poker player who checks or calls has a limited hand. (Naturally, a poker player can turn up with the nuts on some mighty peculiar betting sequences.) Subsequent betting is profoundly affected by this.

    Let’s try to understand a couple of typical poker situations and see when having the initiative is quite valuable.

    (1) At Omaha high, the hand you have picked up includes a pair of queens. The flop comes to your liking; Q♠-9♣-4♠. Since, you lead at the pot with your top set you get one caller. The fourth street card is J♣, making a possible straight, and also creating the chances of a backdoor flush on the last card.

Although, you might be one of the greatest international poker players there is hardly any way to know at this point whether the jack made the rival poker player a straight. If you bet, the rival poker player does not really know whether you made straight with that jack, or are still betting with whatever caused you to bet the flop.

You are on the defensive if you check. The free card can be taken by the rival poker player. When the rival poker player bets then you have too much hand to fold and not enough hand to raise. Your values are closely pinpointed by your check and subsequent call.

You can be put on a hand such as top two pair or a set by the rival poker player. He understands that there are hardly any chances of you having picked up a club draw. Why would you check if you had enough hand to bet the flop and picked up a flush-draw on fourth street?
Are you Casper Milquentoast? A check limits your hand and puts the rival poker player in a strong position. To hit a full on fourth street you may be charged a price. If the non-threatening card hits then he may run a big bluff in the end. A bet of this type on the end will be hard to call if you check and call on the fourth street.

    (2) The flop comes 9-4-4 of three different suits at hold’em. You bet, and get one caller. Has the rival poker player by failing to raise has limited his hand? Not really. If the rival poker player has an extremely powerful hand such as pocket nines or pocket fours then a free poker card is most unlikely let you draw out.
With such a strong hand it would be normal for somebody to smooth-call rather than raise. The raise may tell the story too soon. The principle of the bettor or raiser having an unlimited hand and the caller having a limited hand does not apply here. When the texture of the board makes it dangerous to give a free or cheap card, this principle is applied.

    This leads to the conclusion that the initiative is of limited value when the nuts can afford to leave the rival poker player in the pot because there is little danger of being outdrawn. You know nothing about the opposing hands or poker players in the hold’em layout.

    You don’t know whether to make a side bet on the bettor or the caller. There are more chances of caller showing up with a real hand. However, in the Omaha poker game, with a layout that will let the next board card create a “new nuts” much of the time, immense information is conveyed about the rival poker player’s hand when he fails to take aggressive action.

     (Chances of deceptive play can’t be ruled out. However, there is a lot of risk attendant to giving a free or cheap card here.) The two discussed situations are pokes apart, and there is certainly lots of space between them. However, you can understand the principle that is involved.

    The scenario where the rival poker player fears of you having the nuts is extremely important in big-bet poker. You can pick up a lot of pots by having initiative in situations where your hand is unlimited. Also, you would be keeping bullies at bay. The rival poker player may take the initiative and the pot from you if you dog it.

    The value of having an unlimited hand has already been discussed in the preceding discussion. There is another reason for you to bet or raise at big-bet poker. The pot size increases many times over what the normal growth pattern would be in a limit poker and correspondingly increasing the wager size. The penalty is severe if even after having a powerful hand, you allow the rival poker player to draw out on you.

    Let’s take an example from hold’em poker. Suppose the flop comes K-8-2 and you have 8-8, giving you a middle set. Assuming that there is 1K in the pot and both you and the rival poker player have 10K stacks. If you give  a free card on the flop and the rival poker player picks off a 9 on fourth street holding that pair in the pocket, it is going to cost you at least 4K, and probably all ten grand.

    Comparing this with limit poker, we find that the penalty besides losing the grand in the pot figures to be is less than an additional 1K. The possibility of a huge adverse swing by giving a free card should be well understood by an alert big-bet poker player.

    The rival poker player would be taking the nose-dive from hitting that nine if your hand had been top set. Asking questions such as “ If I give a free card , is my rival poker player going to get rich or go broke as a result of improving?”



 

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