Do you go to the store without a shopping list? Some do and I’m one of those that don’t. I guess that wasn’t a good example, was it?
What about if you go on a long trip, do you take a map or anything similar? The point I am trying to make here is that if you plan ahead it will make your life easier.
And I don’t care about being super effective in real life but in poker I care a lot!
Dan touched on this point in his post about Thinking Ahead. I am going to build on that post by providing a few more concepts and examples that will help you understand the concept of planning ahead.
Anticipating The Action
For you to be able to plan ahead you have to anticipate the action to some degree. For example, if you know that an opponent will check-raise you a lot on the flop. And you also know that you can’t really call a check-raise.
What happens if you check the flop? Does your opponent become more controllable? Most opponents have a plan like “I am going to check-raise this guy on the flop because he doesn’t have anything”.
When you just check it back to him he doesn’t really know what to do and becomes confused. He lacks another plan obviously!
He might just bet the turn and you can easily call a turn bet with your middle pair. Or he might check and let you value bet.
You raise AJ on the button and an aggressive player in the big blind calls.
The flop comes KJ8
The big blind checks and you decide to check.
The reason for the check is that you know that the big blind will check-raise a lot of hands but not so many that you want to put all your money in with middle pair here. So checking here enables you to control the pot and avoid folding the best hand if he check-raises.
There are of course exceptions to this “rule”. If you know he check-raises and instantly gives up on the turn with worse than a King then you can easily bet and call a check-raise.
Turn comes a harmless 2
The big blind bets pot and you call.
No reason to raise here against a player like this. Although if your opponent was a more loose bad fishy player you could raise his bet 2-2.5 times to get a call from a worse jack or a draw like QT, AQ, AT, T9, Q9. It all depends on how you think your opponent will react to you (anticipating his actions).
River comes 4
That puts the back-door flush out there but it doesn’t scare us since it is so unlikely that he has it. Now the big blind bets 1/2 pot and we call. He flips up QT which was planning on check-raising the flop.
If your opponent were to show you a big hand here you would adjust your reads.
Although I would not stop calling someone down in this spot with a hand like this just because they show me two pair or something like that a few times, his hand-range is so wide for me to be folding AJ when the action goes check, pot, 1/2 pot. If he does it a few times with the same betting pattern I would note it.
You raise AQ UTG+1 and get a call from the button who you don’t know that well but he seems loose and doesn’t like to give up pots.
Only the two of you see the flop which is 67T
Many players would just tell you to bet your Ace high here but I disagree. How do you think your opponent will react?
A board like this hits your opponents hand-range hard, even if he is loose and you are out of position. Which means that you will have a hard time contesting the pot.
If your opponent is someone who calls you all the time then you shouldn’t focus on betting him off a hand. You should focus on value-betting your made hands MORE.
If you had a hand like A7 or 99 you could value-bet him relentlessly. We are of course assuming he will not be raising you off that hand if you do, that is for another post though.
Position plays a huge part in a game like No-Limit Hold’em. In this spot I would simply check-fold my Ace high.
How can you adjust to a player like this?
- Play tighter when he has position on you
- Value bet more
- Learn his patterns
- Continuation bet/bluff less
Those are a few things you can do. You can always leave the table if he is making your life difficult. I am pretty sure there are a lot of better tables out there.
In summary, what I do is simplify my decisions. Below are a few examples…
Tendency: Opponent calls too much in position with weak hands
Adjustment: Value bet, Tighter when he as position, Bluff less
Tendency: Opponent check-raises flops
Oops, you forgot to mention with what? Never base your decisions on reads that do not exist.
Tendency: Opponent check-raises flops with any pair, any draw and big hands.
Adjustment: Check behind on the flop and learn how he plays after that.
I know it is easy to get caught up in a personal vendetta against someone. I have done it and still do.
Someone who constantly floats (calls) you in position and you have to check-fold time and time again.
You want to start firing those 2nd and 3rd barrels, because he is owning you.
What you have to consider is that he will be very likely to call you down no matter how much you bet.
That is why you have to adjust your strategy wisely and not just throw more money at him and hope he folds!
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