There’s a myth among No Limit Texas Hold’em players that goes like this: If you raise before the flop, then you must continue to bet on the flop.
Yes, in Limit Hold’em you should bet the flop a high percentage of the time if you raised before the flop, regardless of what comes. In No Limit, however, you should be a little more cautious with your continuation bet.
For example, let’s say you’re in a No Limit tournament, with blinds at 50-100. Holding Ac-Ks, you make it 250 to go. The player on the button calls, as does the player in the small blind.
The flop comes Qh-10s-9d.
The player in the small blind checks. What would you do?
Well, if you believe the myth, you’d probably bet about 600. However, that’s not the move I’d make.
While you have a nice starting hand, and might even catch a jack for the nuts straight, you have to consider what type of hands your two opponents could have. Commonly played hands they might call your raise with include K-J, 10-J, A-Q, 9-9, K-Q, A-10, and 6-6.
Most of those hands, with the exception of the sixes, are substantial favorites over yours. If both of your opponents have small pairs, which they probably don’t, then your continuation bet might work. It’s also unlikely that both of your opponents completely missed this coordinated board.
Keep this in mind: Saving bets at the poker table is just as good as earning bets.
Money you don’t lose is money that stays in your stack. Making an automatic bet after the flop, in a situation where it’s highly likely that one, or both, of your opponents will call, is a play that will lose you money in the long-run.
In our example, if you check the flop you give yourself a free chance to catch up — provided that the button doesn’t bet. By betting, you not only cost yourself money, but also open up the possibility that the small blind could check-raise.
If you’ve studied your opponents for a while, you’ll pick up patterns in their play. At the very least, you’ll know what type of hands they play before the flop. That information will help you decide when it looks safe to make continuation bets.
Let’s look at another hand.
You raise pre-flop with Qh-Jh, and the player seated next to you calls. The flop is 2s-2s-3c.
What you’ve learned about your opponent is that he wouldn’t call your raise with small cards like those, so you feel safe about him not catching any of that flop. You also know that he usually reraises before the flop when he has a pocket pair.
Well, he didn’t reraise, so chances are that he has a hand like A-Q. If you make a continuation bet in this situation your success rate on the bluff should be fairly high.
The real lesson in this column is that money saved is money earned. In Limit Hold’em, betting the flop only costs you one unit, but in No Limit, several failed continuation bets will add up to a significant amount of money.
Plugging that hole in your game will help you avoid sloughing off chips unnecessarily.
Visit www.cardsharkmedia.com/book.html for information about Daniel Negreanu’s new book, Hold’em Wisdom for All Players.
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