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September 5, 2008

No Limit Texas Hold em: Betting&Pot Odds

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Written by: Chris Wilcox
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Something that I run into quite often when playing on Full Tilt or any other poker site for that matter, is players that do not know how to bet and do not understand (or at least don’t think about) pot odds. I want to share a hand from a small 9-player Sit n Go that I played last night. You will see how one has to do with the other in a  prime example.

It was still fairly early in the game and I was in middle position with around $1650 in chips after starting with $1500. No one was short stacked, so obviously so one had a big stack, we were all around that $1400-$1600 mark, give or take.

I was dealt Jh-8h. Not a hand that I would normally play, but I was feeling a bit frisky and had noticed that limping in was the norm so far at this table. No one had been too aggressive yet pre-flop, which is key if you are going to try playing crap like J-8 suited.

Anyway, I called, the player immediately after me called, as did the button and both blinds, leaving 5 players in the pot. ($30-$15 blinds) The Flop came 2s-6d-Th. Missed me by a mile, so I checked, intending to fold the hand if someone made a decent sized bet into  a pot of $150.

The player to act after me made a  $30 bet, to which the rest of the table folded. When it came around to me, I was looking at $30 to call in to a pot of $180, giving me 6:1 on my money. This is a play that many, many online players will miss. Of course, I have nothing. Chances are, neither does my opponent. I would put him on over cards of some sort and the flop probably missed everyone. However, to get 6:1 on my money, why not call?

I make the call, the Turn is an 8. Not bad, now I have a pair, not top pair, but enough of a hand to have a chance. I check, and again, he bets $30 into a pot of $210. Now I am getting 8:1 on my money ($240 pot) I kind of feel that I may be being slow-played at this point, but for 8:1, I am going to at least see the River. It is very possible that my opponent has a set of 6’s or T’s and he is value betting me to keep me in the pot, but it is not costing me much to stay in.

Not only is 8:1 on my money a great deal, but I am also getting some pretty cheap information here. I would like to see his hand at this point because it is going to give me very valuable information either way. It will tell me what types of hands he slow plays, how he plays over-cards when they don’t hit the flop, etc, etc.

So, again, I call the $30, building a pot of $270. The River is a 3. There are no flush or straight possibilities to speak of on the board and at this point, my 8’s may well be the best hand. When he bet s a whopping $60 into the pot, giving me now better than 5:1 on my money, I have no problem making that call. Even if I don’t win the pot, I want to see what he has, so I know how he is likely to play certain hands in the future.

I call and he flips over A-J. My 8’s win the pot and I now have very valuable information that I can use the rest of this tournament and even if I ever meet up with this guy in the future. I am sure he just chalks that one up to me “being a donk,” but if you keep pricing a player into a hand, it will come back to bite you. There are a lot of ways he could have played this hand, both pre-flop and post flop, not the least of which would have been to make a pot sized bet post flop which would have cause me to fold. He would have taken the pot and saved some chips as well.

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