Monday, March 26, 2007

Betting the turn

Some good discussion on turn bet sizing came out of a strategy post by Hoyazo last week. Read it.

The question was about whether turn bets should be a smaller proportion of the pot because you want to encourage your opponents to call when they don't have the odds to see the river with most draws.

I believe turn bets need to be significant in size most of the time. I recommend this CardPlayer article by Bob Ciaffone: "No-Limit Hold 'em Turn Betting: If you bet the turn, bet big."

The main reason I like bets between 1/2 pot and full pot bets on the turn is that they put your opponents in tough situations. Sure, if you bet 1/3 pot and your opponent calls with a flush draw, he's making an error because he'll only hit about one in five times. But it's not a very large error, especially since you may occasionally have to pay off a river bet when the flush card comes. Why not bet larger amounts, so that your opponents are making even bigger mistakes when they chase their draws?

Yes, sometimes you will fold out weak drawing hands that would have paid a smallish amount to see the river. But I think that money is made up for with the times that those weak hands will also call a larger amount. In addition, people do strange things sometimes with flush draws when facing significant bets on the turn -- like going all in, which is ideal if you can make the call.

Smaller turn bets look weak, they give implied odds and I'm not convinced that they have a greater expected value. For example, if an opponent will call a 1/3 pot bet of $100 half the time but a full pot bet of $300 a quarter of the time, you're better off betting full pot ($50 vs. $75).

A final argument is that it would be all well and good to make a smaller turn bet if you knew exactly that your opponent had a naked flush draw. But what about the times he has a flush draw and a pair? What if you're facing multiple opponents whose combined draws cut into your equity? For those situations, larger bets are necessary.

Here are a few more comments that I made in the comments section of Hoy's post:

On the turn, I disagree with the general advice that smaller bets are better. I like to bet more on the turn, usually between 3/4 pot and full pot. That's because the turn is where the big bets start coming out and where your opponents will be paying the highest price for a foolish call to see the river. It's also a better opportunity to get value for your made hands than on the flop.
The way I see it, the purpose of flop bets is to build large pots, take down small pots and find out where you stand.
Turn bets are used to pressure your opponents to make tough and incorrect decisions. Larger turn bets have more value when your opponents try to suck out. These big bets have a greater chance of taking down the pot against top pair. They reduce the chances of seeing what could be an expensive river. They more clearly define your opponent's hand.

This post also started a mini-debate about the merits of not folding flush draws on the flop when faced with a full pot bet. I want to do some PokerTracker research and write more about it soon. Another point to consider is that tournament vs. cash game considerations may alter strategy. For purposes of this post, assume that all players have 100 BB stacks.


I played in the $400K Guaranteed tourney on Full Tilt today and went out short of the money. I played pretty well early but then got distracted by a fantasy baseball draft, which caused me to tighten up.

Anyway, I eventually got to the point where I pushed with AK when my M was 4.59. Don't worry -- this isn't just a bad beat story:

FullTiltPoker $400,000 Guarantee (14978671), Table 189 - 140/280 Ante 25
Seat 1: GB2005 (8,440)
Seat 4: smizmiatch (2,985)
Dealt to smizmiatch [Ac Kh]
GB2005 raises to 840
smizmiatch raises to 2,960, and is all in
GB2005 calls 2,120
smizmiatch shows [Ac Kh]
GB2005 shows [Ad Td]
fraentsch: flop call
*** FLOP *** [Qs 5s 5d]
*** TURN *** [Qs 5s 5d] [2d]
*** RIVER *** [Qs 5s 5d 2d] [Jd]
smizmiatch shows a pair of Fives
GB2005 shows a flush, Ace high
GB2005 wins the pot (6,565) with a flush, Ace high

Now, my tournament game certainly needs work. I'd like to hear comments on whether there's any merit to using a stop-and-go play on a hand like this.

If I had smooth called preflop and then pushed the flop, I maybe would have won the hand right there. Is that a viable option? When should it be used? Thanks for the feedback.


Absinthe said...

I don't think there's a whole lot of value in stop-and-going there with AK. Knowing what the cards are you're likely to take it down, sure, but if the cards were face-up you'd want to get all the money in before the flop anyway. You want your opponent to make the biggest mistake possible, and seeing a flop out of position with AK for a third of your stack is unlikely to do that. About the only way he'll incorrectly call a flop bet is if an ace flops or if it comes KTx.

If I have AK I hate that flop. My opponent is unlikely to fold something like 77-JJ, and if they opened with AQ or KQ I've just screwed myself.

There's some relative value in it compared to doing it with a baby pair. If you're behind on that flop your opponent isn't going to fold, but at least you've got 3-6 outs instead of 2. But I still much prefer jamming preflop, especially against a LAG. With your stack at that stage of the tournament, you've got to be looking for fold equity or shots at getting your money in good.

SirFWALGMan said...

I do not see anyone folding to <4.5 blinds on a stop and go. It's one of those I called his pre-flop raise and he does not have much left so fuck him kind of things.

Play MTTs BIG and make people have to make bigger decisions.. and never let your M get that low donkey!

I started playing MTTs with a more cash game mentality.. stop and go.. see flops.. blah blah.. its just not that type of game.

Gnome said...

Thanks for the comments.
Is the stop-and-go play ever appropriate? In what situations do you use it?

kurokitty said...

Re: Turn betting, I used a smaller bet on the turn when I made two-pair in a NL$2/5 game at the MGM during the blogger weekend in December and it totally backfired on me.

This one guy bet, I raised, the intent was to make it expensive for a flush drawer behind me. The guy behind me folded.

Now it was heads-up. "At least we got the flush draws out of the way," I said before the river card came.

The river comes, with the board paired and the original bettor pushes all-in. Fucking shit! I went into the tank for a long while and then I folded. The guy shows a pair of 8s, basically a bluff.

I was new to the table and later Ryan said the guy tended to be a big bluffer.

But I'm sure this would not have happened if I had 3/4-pot sized bet the turn.

Very good post.