I want to have another look today at value betting and how we should be dovetailing our strategy when it comes to the balance between value bets and bluffs and checks. For example if we were playing 0.01-0.02 cash games then your bias should be strongly geared towards value betting and not bluffing.
This is because your opponents will simply pay you off with weak holdings. There will be many calling stations in these games and the stake levels will make it even more so. So your typical opponent may be loose-passive and so this is why value betting is more important than bluffing.
A Different Plan at High Stakes
However this isn’t always the case when you play higher levels and different games require a different plan of attack. For example if we played at a typical NL50 cash game then this would be a tight-aggressive game. In fact there would be none of the micro stakes players at this level and each opponent would be at a different level of tight-aggressiveness.
All would have small VPIP numbers but some players may limp more than others and so may have a greater gap between their VPIP and PFR percentages. So many pots will be either won pre-flop or end up heads up going to the flop and this is reflected in very small see the flop percentages which tend to be less than 30% in full ring games and six max games.
Strong players in no limit Texas hold’em look to try and isolate as much as they possibly can and a raise and re-raise is not going to lead to a multi-way pot. So value betting in no limit cash games is less important as you move up through the levels……or is it?
Value Betting is the Key
Well the fact is that value betting is still very important and always is but you need to redefine which sorts of hands you value bet with. For example against a perceptive opponent at middle stakes who believes our range to be polarised based on our image then we can value bet 7c-7d on a Qs-8d-4c-2h board as a hand like A-K or A-J may call. We can certainly value bet A-8s or 9h-9s in this instance.
However if we change that to a NL50 game where a very tight rock that multi-tables has called us pre-flop then the hand becomes a lot thinner as a value bet as our opponent will call us with far fewer hands and our primary reason for betting becomes one where we are no longer betting for value but bluffing with a made hand trying to get our opponent to fold their equity.
In fact in this second example then there is probably no value at all in betting 7c-7d on a Qs-8d-4c-2h board. In no limit play then you will make a lot of what are called “two way bets”. These are bets that serve the purpose of bluffing and value betting at the same time.
Raising when you are Bluffing
For example let us say that you raise two limpers from the button with Qh-Jh. This raise has many characteristics of a bluff because you are over representing your hand. Whether your intention is to take the money pre-flop or post flop makes no difference, you are raising with a non-premium hand.
However your hand has the potential to win a big pot and to also extract value and so you are also raising for value as well. You can make the top two pair, a flush, the nut straight, lower straights and top pair and so your hand has good equity.
You will find a lot in online poker that you will need to balance between betting and raising as a bluff and for value by merging the two together. This often allows you the flexibility to extract value and to bluff depending on which situation arises.