Revised 4-2 Rule, Flop Value Raises and Oversized Bets | Q&A Podcast #111

I answer 3 listener Q’s about my changing view on the 4-2 Rule, making unsure value raises on the flop and dealing with oversized bets.

In episode #110, I began MED #4 on Blind Play with the most important concepts to understand when playing in the blinds.  And I discussed 4 pre-flop blind leaks.

Question #1 from Anonymous: Revised 4-2 Rule (2:00)

Sky, are you sure about using the 4/2 rule on the flop when not facing an all-in bet? If there’s more action possible beyond the flop, shouldn’t you just use the rule of two when converting your outs to odds when debating a flop call?

The 4-2 Rule as mentioned previously

The 4-2 Rule is a way to turn the number of drawing outs you have into your odds of hitting them.  It’s times 4 on the flop to hit on the turn or river, and times 2 on the turn to hit your draw on the river.

Example: a flopped flush draw is 9 outs.  Multiply this by 4, and the odds of hitting it by the river are 36%.  With the same 9 outs on the turn, multiplying by 2 gives you an 18% chance of hitting on the river.

As long as you’re being offered pot odds below these amounts, it’s okay to call with your draw.

The Problem

The problem is with multiplying by 4 on the flop.  If you call the flop bet, there’s no guarantee that you won’t face another bet.  The x4 rule should only be used in all-in situations, where you’re guaranteed to see the next two streets.  If you’re using the x4 rule on the flop, but you’re forced to fold to a 2nd turn bet, then you’ve just overpaid for your draw on the flop.

So, in non-all-in situations, which is what happens most of the time especially in cash games, we should be using the 2-2 Rule.  Times 2 on the flop, and times 2 on the turn.

Another Problem

Let’s say you’ve got the aforementioned flush draw on the flop.  If you multiply by 2, you’ve only got an 18% chance to hit on the turn.  Well, at such small equity, you can’t call most flop bets.  You can only call 1/4 pot-sized bets, and nobody makes bets that small.

Example: $4 pot, $1 bet.  You have to call $1 to win a total pot of $6.  1/6 = 17%.  Your flush draw equity in the pot is 18%, so you can make a profitable call here.

But, we need to play our flush draws because they’re incredibly profitable!

In PokerTracker 4, I filtered for made flushes that went to showdown, and it returned 65 hands, with a profitability of 2,229 bb’s per 100 hands.  And, out of the 65 hands that went to SD, I only lost 4 of them at SD.  That’s an incredible 94% win rate.

I also ran a filter in PT4 for flopped flush draws with and without SD.  This returned 378 instances where I flopped the flush draw, and my win rate was a lovely 337 bb’s per 100 hands.  Looks like I’m making money when I flop a fd.  Whether I’m catching the flush or some sort of pair hand that wins or I use aggression to push them off the pot, I’m a winner when flopping the fd.

The Good News

  1. We might actually have more than 9 outs. Let’s say we’ve got AKs on T64 with the nut fd.  There’s 9 outs for the flush, and 6 additional outs for an Ace or a King.  Plus, we could go runner-runner straight with a Q and a J, so that’s one more out.  So with our new total of 16 outs, times 2 gives us a 32% chance of hitting on the turn.  That means we can call a psb now.
  2. The opponent my not be a double-barreler. If they don’t fire again on the turn that often, that frequency weakness can help to sway us to call on the flop.  A drop in Flop Cbet from 70% to a Turn Cbet of 30% means they’re turn honest.  They check the turn a lot, giving us a free river card.  And, as another option in case we don’t catch, we can stab at the river and expect them to fold their marginal hands quite often.
  3. We can get aggressive and add fold equity to the mix.  If we’re OOP on the flop, we can donk lead, we can check-raise, we can check-call the flop then stab the turn, or we can check-call the flop then lead the river once they check behind on the turn.  If we’re IP on the flop, we can call the cbet then bet the turn when they check, we can raise the flop cbet or the turn cbet, or we can even call the flop and turn to bet when they check the river especially if they have a low river bet %.
  4. We can keep firing.  Don’t passively play your fd’s, especially if they fold a lot to cbets.  Keep up the aggression and use your fd as backup in case your opponent doesn’t fold.

Question #2 from Jamie Clossick: Flop Value Raises (9:25)

Hey Sky,
Could you detail circumstances where we raise the Cbet with TP on the flop when villain has a strong range? In particular, in spots where we may have the best hand but not always, and we could be put in tough spots on turns and rivers if we attempt to make showdown.
Thank you.

Follow-up Q: Let’s say we peel ATss IP vs an EP open. The opener cbets on T62hhc. Would you raise? What about if there was one of our suit on the flop?

Regarding Flop Cbet Raises

Every bet or raise should be done for value or as a bluff. Your TP hand could be best right now, so you’re raising for value if you think they’ll call with worse.

If they fold out all worse hands and only continue with better like AJ, QQ+ and sets, then your “value bet” is only a bluff.

Based on what you think about their continuation range, their reaction to your raise can tell you if you’re ahead or not.  Also, one of the other good things about raising is that it often costs less money than calling the flop and turn. Raising also adds fold equity, instead of just calling down and hoping you’re good at SD.

When your not sure if your raise is for value or not, being IP is much preferred. When OOP your options are a bit limited and your opponent might not fold to your raise so easily. They might call just to see what you do on the next street and bluff you when you check.

If you’re not sure if your raise is a bluff or for value, flop raises are a little better to make when the turn can give you lots of “equity outs.” These are cards that can come and add equity to your made hand or give you additional outs for the river. For the J94 example, let’s say it’s a 1 spade board and you’ve got QsJs. You can raise the turn and if called, you can barrel on any Q (2p), J (trips), K or 8 (+gs), T (+oesd) or spade (+fd). There are 6 different “equity outs” with your hand, so firing the flop raise makes it a bit easier to barrel the turn.

Regarding ATss on T62hhc

It depends on how often they cbet in general when OOP. If they cbet a ton, I’ll raise to get value out of a wide cbetting range. But if they cbet infrequently, especially when OOP, I’m going to just call and assess the turn. If one of the cards was a spade, a turn spade would an “equity out” to your TPTK hand so you could double-barrel on that, but it’s not a prerequisite for raising here on the flop.

Question #3 from John Burke: Oversized Bets (17:40)

A poker math question here. My favorite place to play 1/2 cash games typically has very loose aggressive tables. I have found good success playing very tight ABC poker because very few of the players actually pay attention to my strategy and table image. The issue that I come across is that bet sizing at these tables becomes very high. For example, an opening bet pre-flop can vary between $12 and $15. With two players in that pot, it is not uncommon to see a bet on the flop of $40. I find it hard to apply proper poker math when I am in hands like this. Are there any tricks? Should I just stay away from these big pots? This is hard when I have a decent hand but not quite the nuts. I have mostly played by feel or gut instinct when I cannot apply the math. Am I doing this wrong?

Make a Chart

Bet Sizing Chart

Take some time off the tables and make a chart that outlines the common bet sizes and pot sizes you see in this game.

[Above] At $1/$2 and a $10 bet, this makes the pot $23 (ignoring rake). Below the total pot of $23 on the spreadsheet, you all can see the different flop bet sizings players may make.  You can enter the ones that you most commonly see.  At a $15 bet, if it’s a bluff the break-even point for this is at 39%, so the bettor needs opponents to fold at least that often for a profitable bluff. At this sizing, a caller needs 28% equity in the hand to profitably continue.

You can do this for as many bet sizes as you encounter, plus you can add more than one caller to your spreadsheet to account for MW pots.

Note the Extremes

One thing to note and is good to remember are the two extremes for calling equity needed. In the $10 pre-flop bet pot, your calling equity needed is somewhere between 28% and 36% for the common flop bet sizings you’ll encounter. So, you don’t have to remember all the %’s. If the sizing is bigger when you’re actually playing, you need closer to 36% equity. If it’s a smaller bet, you need around 28% equity. You can compare these equities to the drawing hands you have (using the new and improved 2-2 rule for cash games I already discussed), but you can also think about your made hands or decent TP hands.  You’ll want to consider if you’re ahead enough of the time to make the call.

Sky Matsuhashi