I continue MED #4 on blind play as I discuss post-flop blind defense in both HU and MW pots, and hunting for and plugging post-flop leaks.
Assuming a Good Pre-flop Plan (2:30)
To simplify things, we’re going to make a few assumptions:
- We’re OOP
- We made a pre-flop plan for post-flop play
- Because we’re OOP and we had a plan, we’re okay with playing this hand, right now, OOP, post-flop.
With these three assumptions in mind, you’re going to encounter two basic post-flop situations; either seeing the flop multi-way or seeing it HU.
Post-flop Blind Defense: Multi-way Pots
Multi-way pots are simply any hand that gets to the flop with 3+ players.
General Approach to OOP Multi-way Pots (4:00)
In these spots it’s really important to play solid post-flop poker because you’re OOP. You need to be making good choices with reads, stats and player tendencies to back-up your plays.
The more people in the pot, the more careful you need to be because more people = more landmines in this post-flop battle.
The good news is that you’ve probably got a tighter range full of strong and playable hands. Good pre-flop hand choices will give you easier post-flop decisions.
4 things that you need to consider before acting
- Consider the players who remain in the hand. The more stationy they are, the less likely your bluffs will work, but the more value you may be able to extract. And the nittier they are, the more folds you’ll get.
- TP hands are not so good vs 3-4 other players. The more players there are, the more likely somebody hit something they won’t be folding, whether it’s any type of draw, a set or some 2p hand. Be ready to ditch “good” hands like TPWK when you face significant multi-way post flop action.
- There’s no need to fight for your pre-flop chips in the pot. That money is no longer yours. It’s generally okay to play fit or fold on the flop when you’re OOP vs many players. You called for good reason pre-flop, but the flop just didn’t help you. Don’t throw good money at bad situations.
- Answer this question: “How can I make money here?” If you don’t know how you’re going to earn the pot now, ditch early and get out cheaply. Quote of the day from me:
If you’re flummoxed, don’t flounder, just fold.
Flopping a Strong Hand in MW Pots (6:05)
- If you hit the flop hard, bet strong to limit the players that see the turn and to charge any draws.
- Consider the players who remain in the hand. Open limpers are definitely not good players and are often very stationy, so you should try to extract the max value from them. Bet, bet, bet vs the stations that will pay you off.
- I just stated above that you should bet, bet, bet when you flop a killer hand vs stations… BUT, you don’t need to go for 3 streets of value. Pay attention to the way your opponents play the pot as well. If they raise, are they doing so with worse hands? If they cbet certain sizings, are they doing so as bluffs? If they’re calling you down, could they be calling and not raising with a hand that actually beats you? You’ve got to put your hand reading skills to use to determine if your hand is still above their likely range, or if their actions spell a stronger hand than yours.
Flopping a Marginal Hand or Draw in MW Pots (7:10)
- Marginal hands and draws are not always worth continuing with. If the price you’re being offered is right to call with the 2-2 Rule in mind, or if you’re able to check and see a free turn card, then great! But, don’t stick around just because you might hit your gut-shot or your J8 on the J23 board might be good.
- If you’re going to bluff with a raise, the sooner you do so the better. If you check-call the flop with a plan to check-raise the turn, you’re risking loads more chips than if you had just check-raise bluffed the flop. As the pot builds, your bluffs are more costly.
Post-flop Blind Defense: Heads Up
It’s these situations where your post-flop skills should allow you to exploit your opponent’s tendencies and either get the value you’re looking for the fold you’re looking for.
General Approach to HU Play (8:10)
In HU, you’re dealing with only one opponent which should allow you to use some of your more exploitative plays that are harder to pull off vs multiple opponents.
4 considerations for HU play
- Consider the player you’re up against. Stations won’t fold but give value, nits are just the opposite. The LAG’s and TAG’s can take a little more work, but use their stats against them and go with the plays that can really make things tough on them.
- TP hands are pretty good vs 1 other player. “Weak” hands in MW pots could easily be strength in HU pots. Don’t just throw away your TPWK hands. Think about what hands your opponent is repping, their likely range and how well it interacts with the board before you ditch those SD worthy hands.
- There’s still no need to fight for your pre-flop chips in the pot. That blind money in the pot is no longer yours, so it’s okay to ditch the hand if the situation is unfavorable. But, when you’re HU, bluffs are easier to pull off. Just plan them according to the tendencies of your opponent. If you think he won’t fold to any bluff, no matter how big, then just ditch the hand. If he ain't folding, you ain't bluffing.
- Great question: “How can I make money here?” And once again, if you don’t know how you’re going to earn the pot now, just ditch the hand.
Flopping a Value Hand (10:05)
- When you hit the flop really strong, you generally don’t want to check-raise. This gives him the opportunity to ditch his extremely wide bluff cbetting range. Check-call instead, then check the turn with intent to raise or just check-call again. If villain checks behind on the turn, that’s okay. It’s not ideal, but you can still bet the river for some value.
- If your opponent is a station, go for max value. Maybe not bet as big as 80%, but at least lead out on the flop at 2/3 pot. Then increase or decrease the sizing on future streets based on how likely you think the opponent will call.
- If your opponent is a post-flop aggressor (high AFq), throw out the 1/2 pot donk bet and hope for a raise. Just call the raise then make a small turn bet. Keep firing until you take his stack or he decides to fold.
- If you’re up against a total post-flop nit, just check and hope he bets or checks behind and catches something on the turn. Do not bet into foldy players on good flops.
Flopping a Marginal Hand or Draw (11:40)
When you’re OOP, especially vs just one opponent, there are lots of ways you can bluff with weak hands: check-raises, donk leads and OOP floats.
The Bluff Check-raise
When you check-raise, your sizing should be at least 2.5x to make a re-raise very costly. If you min check-raise, they can min 3bet and that has to work far less often and still be profitable.
You don’t want to check-raise willy-nilly. Not all flops are equal, and not all hands are worth check-raising. It’s much better to check-raise bluff when there are lots of turn cards that add drawing equity to your hand. When you hit a card that gives you a better draw, you can fire the turn for lots of fold equity. And, if you get called again, there’s still a chance you’ll hit your draw on the river.
Make sure to limit how often you make this play. It’s great and it’s profitable, but doing it too often will convince your opponents that you’re bluffing.
Also, if you make the check-raise, but the opponent calls and the turn card doesn’t help you, then you don’t have to follow that up with a double-barrel bluff. The situation went from good to bad, so don’t throw more money at. Save the chips and use them to pull another one of these in the future.
The Bluff Donk Bet
Donk betting is a great way to throw off your opponents. Take a look at their Fold to Donk Bet stat, and if it’s high, then this could be a profitable play on the flop. You could even make a delayed donk bet vs opp’s who double-barrel a lot.
First you check-call the flop after timing down a little bit. Timing down makes it look like you were contemplating a check-raise for value. Then on the turn, you throw out the delayed donk bet after timing down just a little bit. Your two time downs will look like you’re contemplating going for value, and many opp’s will ditch their hand at this point.
You want to know how often your donk lead needs to work and compare this to their Fold to Donk Bet stat:
- ¼ pot – needs to work 20% of the time as a bluff
- 1/3 pot – 25%
- ½ pot – 33%
- 2/3 pot – 40%
- ¾ pot – 43%
- Full psb – 50%
When your donk lead just gets called, he’s likely capped his range. If he had a really good hand, he’d raise you for value. So, his call indicates some sort of draw, underpair or weak TP hand. You can fire a second barrel on cards that don’t help his range.
The Flop OOP Float
Here’s a really interesting play that I use to great effect. Here's the PokerTracker 4 filter for it:
Here’s how the flop OOP float play works:
- You check-call on the flop on boards that could hit your range. Time down a little bit before you hit the call button to make it look like you’re thinking about raising.
- On the turn, time down then check. Hopefully he checks behind.
- Then on the river waste no time in donk leading. You want this bet to look like you were hoping to check-raise him on the turn, but you missed your chance so now the only way to get value is to bet out.
This play is extremely valuable against turn honest players. If you find someone who cbets 70% on the flop, then it drops down to 30% on the turn, these are perfect players to target.
But time down! Make it look like you’re considering how to extract maximum value with your strong flopped hand.
5 Post-flop Leaks in the Blinds (19:35)
Leak 1: A Negative Win Rate OOP in MW Pots
- If this is anything positive, that’s great! It could mean a few different things:
- You’re getting here with strong hands and you’re playing well by extracting value
- It could mean you’re considering your opp’s and the board and you’re making successful bluffs
- Or it could mean that you’re ditching all but your strong hands and strongest draws, and only staying in when it’s +EV to do so.
- Or it could be a combination of all 3 above
- But, a negative win rate and you’ve got a couple of possible leaks:
- You may not be thinking through your decisions pre-flop and you don’t realize how –EV the situation is. You fix this by asking yourself one simple question before every pre-flop decision: “How can I make money with this hand in this position against these players?” If you can’t think of a way to make money other than hitting a miracle flop, then just fold.
- Another leak might be that you’re continuing with weak hands and draws. You fix this by not being afraid to ditch those TPWK hands, or those low flush draws and weak straight draws. Lots of players don’t want to look weak to their opponents and they stay in by calling too wide or pushing their bluffs too hard. If it doesn’t look profitable, don’t flounder, just fold.
Leak 2: Losing Money Post-flop When HU and OOP
- If it’s positive, once again, great! But, go ahead and take a look at your biggest losing hands and see if there are some things you could’ve done better.
- If it’s negative, there are two common causes for this:
- You don’t like to give up post-flop vs just one other player. So, many of us feel that folding on the flop to just a single bet, vs one villain, means you’re weak and your opp’s will walk all over you. This isn’t the case at all, as long as you’re folding when it makes sense to do so. Think about your options and the plays we’ve discussed today. A check-raise, a donk lead or even a flop check-call then a delayed river donk lead could win you the pot.
- You’re too passive or aggressive with your marginal hands and draws. If you get aggressive too often on flops, for whatever reason, your opponents won’t give you the credit you deserve. And if you’re calling weak draws too often? They’re getting extra value from your passivity. Only continue beyond the flop with good hands, good draws, or a compelling reason to do so like a good bluff opportunity on a future street.
Leak 3: Losing When Calling on the Flop
- A negative win rate here is bad, but you can fix this.
- Review all of your losing hands. And I do mean ALL of your losing hands. You might be surprised to see how many small 8-12bb pots you’ve lost. This might not sound like a lot, but a pre-flop call and a call on the flop could easily be 8-12bb’s, and lots of these smallish losing pots = one big hit to your win rate in the blinds. So you need to see what types of marginal hands and draws and situations you’re calling in, take note of what stands out to you, and commit to not making those calling mistakes again.
- Sort the hands returned in the filter by card strength. Take a look and see how many off-suit broadways, off-suit Aces and off-suit connectors and gappers you’re calling with. Also, look for the crappy suited cards as well. If you’re calling pre-flop with a lot of A6o, 98o, KTo, J7s or K8s hands, then you’ve got to tighten up pre-flop to make for better post-flop situations. Remember, you’re going to be OOP so choose hands that flop well and are easy to play.
Leak 4: Losing Money When Check-Raising the Flop
- Thanks for coming to the show notes to check-out these final two leaks!
- A negative win rate here is a leak, but fixable.
- Review all of your losing hands. What are you doing wrong? Are your value check-raises getting sucked out on? Maybe you need to raise more to charge the draws and weaker hands. Are they calling every one of your bluffs? Maybe you're missing indications that they will never fold on this flop. Figure out what you're doing wrong and resolve to fix it.
Leak 5: Losing Money on the Donk Bet
- And again, you're looking for profitability with your donk bets.
- Review all of your losing hands. Just like leak #4, figure out why you're losing money. Are you choosing bad spots? Are you donk leading with enough back-door draws that could allow for the second barrel? Are you a one and done donk bettor?
Here’s my challenge to you for this episode: Run all of the leak finding filters mentioned today, and it’s very likely at least one of them will show a negative BB/100 hands win rate. Choose the most costly leak to fix this week. Review every one of the losing hands, and try to figure out what you’re doing wrong. Are your pre-flop hand selections good? Are you taking into account all the info available to you to make solid post-flop choices? Are you taking into account the opponent, their range, the strength of your hand and how you can likely make money in this spot? Resolve to focus on this leak with each session you play this week, and review any applicable hands the following day to determine if you’re making better decisions or not.
Now it’s your turn to take action and do something positive for your poker game.
In podcast #114 I'll give you a special episode in honor of ‘Mashing the Micros.’
Until next time, study smart, play much and make your next session the best one yet.