Years ago there were many plays that people found unacceptable that the top professionals treat as standard these days. Let us look at an example to highlight what I am talking about. You open raise from the button with 5c-5d and the big blind calls with the Kh-Jc.
The flop comes 10h-8s-3d and the big blind donk bets into you for two thirds pot. More and more top players are raising in situations like these.
This may look horrible on the surface because many players view these hands as bluff catchers. Donk leads are seen as weak attempts to win the pot at the lower stakes levels and they might be. But the fact remains that allowing our opponent to dictate the action is not good strategy.
Losing Money on The Flop
If our line goes call-fold then we simply donate money on the flop. If the line goes call-call-fold then we donate even more money. If it goes call-call-call then we risk spewing money by being value bet all the way. Our opponent simply bets for value and we are in pay off city.
Also imagine if our opponent bets the K-J and we call……seems good so far except we don’t know if we have the best hand or not. Then a king or jack arrives on the turn or river and our passive line loses us the pot. But many people argue that you cannot possibly raise the flop because there is no value and we have a hand that could be the best hand.
While it is true that no worse hand can call, what we are doing is turning our hand into what is called a “thin bluff”. This is because if we are called then our equity is very thin only having the two outs to the sixes and the backdoor straight as equity.
Good Fold Equity
However our fold equity is very good because our opponent is probably drawing thin in their eyes. What we are doing is bluffing with a hand and that is a concept that wasn’t really picked up on many years ago. Bluffing usually had to be done with the worst hand or a hand that was almost certainly worst.
You do need to remember though that if the player with the K-J knew our holding then their correct play wouldn’t be to fold but to re-raise us.
This is because when they bet and we raised then our bet represented more strength than we actually held. Remember that a bluff is a bet or a raise that is telling an incorrect story.
It says to your opponent that you have a hand stronger than what you hold. So it then becomes possible to do that with a made hand like a small pocket pair in this instance. When we raise with 5-5 then we are saying that we are stronger than what we actually have and that is exactly the same as a bluff.
I can almost hear you screaming at me “Yes but Carl, we are raising blind, we could be losing to our opponent who will not fold and they may carry on bluffing on the turn”. Well firstly, how do we know they are bluffing? Just because they donk bet into us doesn’t automatically mean that they are bluffing.
You Have to be Wrong Sometimes
Even if we have no pair and are bluffing then we could still be running into a big hand. Look……at the end of the day then the price for playing good aggressive poker is being wrong sometimes. You cannot let your game be ruled by fear. This is why there is an old saying that goes “scared money never wins”.
This is often taken to mean by having an insufficient bankroll but it also means tight anti-variance type play. Any poker style that is fearful of loss is going to hinder any money making potential. Poker is simply a game where you just have to get in there and risk money to make meaningful money.
If you can do that and be properly bankrolled then you will be a fearful opponent for anyone. Players that have a “fit or fold” style are often in this category.
Firstly there is nothing wrong with having a style of play that has very little variance attached to it. If you hate the thought of playing poker and having really wide swings then playing in a tight way is good. But you need to understand that really tight styles do not make much money.
This is even when you avail yourself of sign up bonuses and rakeback. You just need to get in there and gamble and when you do that then you will start to make more money than you ever thought was possible. Don’t expect to make millions playing a LAG style and don’t try it straight away until you get the proper level of coaching.