Two Pot-earning Plays I Love and 1 for MAX Value

You’re about to learn 2 plays that I love making to earn pots and 1 more that gives me MAX Value when the time is right.

Action is the greatest teacher! If you just read or listen below, sure, you’ll learn something. But to truly get value out of this post, and to earn more pots and more value, take action with these 3 plays this week.

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The 1st Pot-earning Play: Floating Flops to Steal Turns

In this play, we call the flop cbet with the plan of bluffing when they check on the turn. So it’s a simple “call now, bluff later” plan.

I absolutely love this play and want to share with you how I do it profitably.

There are 5 aspects that make this very likely to succeed:

1. Be In Position

Everything in poker is easier when you’re IP. This makes it more likely your opponent is going to fail to cbet from OOP on the next street and this display of weakness is what you’re going to pounce on.

2. Have Some Equity

You can do this with absolute bluffs: no draw and not even good pair potential (like holding 87 on the AK2 flop). But I like having some sort of pair or even a backdoor draw or overcards on the flop that I can back into a great hand with. For example, holding KsQs on a single spade 932 board. Good turn cards are the King or Queen for TP, Jack or Ten for a gutshot draw, spade for a flush draw.

3. The Raiser’s Range Missed the Flop and Turn

Your opponent raised pre-flop and you called in position. They have plenty of AX, KX and QX hands in their range.  So, what kind of boards will they hate seeing? Low and dry boards like 932 or 457. Also, monotone boards and 2-tone boards can be scary if they aren’t holding the same suits.

You’ll want to bluff the turn on cards that fall in the vicinity of the flop board. On the 932, bluff them if the 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3 or 2 hits. You called their flop bet, you can easily hold lots of these smaller to medium cards which will make it more likely they’ll fold their non-pair and non-draw hands.

4. Opponent is Turn Honest OOP

By turn honesty, you’re looking for players who cbet the flop a lot, but only barrel when they hold a strong hand. So, looking for a Flop Cbet > 70% and a low Turn Cbet < 40%. The bigger the gap between the two stats, the more honest they are as the cbettor, the more likely they’ll fold.

5. Small Flop Cbet Sizing

If you can read weakness in their flop bet sizing, that’s great! You might know they like to cbet 2/3 or 3/4 pot with their TP hands, so a 1/3 or 1/4 pot bet = weakness. Their turn check is another indication of weakness and they’re very likely to fold to your turn bet.

The 2nd Pot-earning Play: Double-barrel Bluffing

When we’re double-barrel bluffing, we’re putting two streets of pressure on our opponents in an effort to get them to fold.

Many opponents call flops a lot because they don’t want to give up too easily. With our double-barrel bluffs, we want to target these players.

This play also has 5 aspects that make it very likely to succeed:

1. Be In Position

Once again, position is critical and it makes this play more likely to succeed.  You were the preflop raiser with the stronger range and you’ve got positional advantage. Your opponents will be more likely to fold.

2. Have Equity

Just like before, having equity gives you a backup plan in case your double-barrel bluff is unsuccessful.  Straight-up bluffs aren’t as good as semi-bluffing with at least backdoor equity. Again, that KsQs on the 932 board is a great hand to double-barrel bluff on any Jack or Ten or spade card, and you can double-barrel for value on any King or Queen.

3. The Turn Misses Their Range

You want to double-barrel bluff on cards that hit your range over your opponent’s range. Your opponent check-called the flop OOP, which means they likely have some sort of drawing hand or pair.  So, you want to barrel on cards that don’t complete draws nor strengthen their possible hands. If they called on the 763 flop, you don’t want to barrel bluff on a 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4 or a 3. Look to barrel bigger cards like A, K, Q and J.

4. Opponent is Turn Honest OOP

Again, you want to see that turn honesty. If they fold to cbets when OOP on the turn >50%, your double-barrel bluff is more likely to succeed.

5. Bet Sizing

Hit their pain threshold. You want to go at least the same size as on the prior street and even a little bigger. Maybe going 50% on the flop then 60% on the turn, or 60% on the flop then 70% on the turn. If they’re paying attention, the increase in size easily looks like a value bet. You could even try a 33% pot bet on the flop then 55% on the turn. This looks like a huge increase and often hits their pain threshold.

The 3rd MAX Value Play: River Over-shove vs the Fish

This is a play I learned from Nathan Williams, BlackRain79.

He posted an article called Optimal Poker Bet Sizing in 2021 [Used by Pros].

The 6th play he talked about was over-shoving the river with the nuts versus the fish for max value.

I’ve used the play lots of times to great effect, but certain things need to line up for it to earn MAX Value. And, I’ve screwed this play up a few times and lost my stack (I’ll share how that happened in a minute).

There are 3 aspects to this play:

1. Your opponent is a fishy calling station.

You need the fishy calling stations to make this play profitable. They love to call with TPWK, 2nd pair hands, of course 2p hands and they can never fold trips or an under straight or flush no matter the board. They don’t think, they just see the strength of their hand and $$$ flash in their eyes.

2. You have the nuts. I mean it… THE NUTS!

The 2nd aspect is you MUST have the absolute nuts.  You have the JT on the KQ932r board. You have the Ah5h of hearts on a 98764, three-heart board. In each of these examples, you have the absolute nuts and your opponent can easily have 2p+ hands.

3. The board is action heavy, so it’s very wet and there are plenty of 2nd and 3rd best hands possible.

I gave an example of a KQ932 board a second ago, and that’s not bad.  Even more action would be a KQ987 or a 98654 board, or a KQ998 or even a 4 heart 97632 board.  On all of these boards you can have the absolute nuts, but your opponent can easily have a worse straight, worse flush or an under full house.

Watch me get MAX Value on this river:

Warning – MAX Loss Potential

You can miss out on value or even lose the max with this play if you do it wrong.

I’ve tried it against TAG’s before and because they’re tight, they can often fold TP hands and even 2p or trips on scary straight-heavy and flush-heavy boards. Because they can find a fold, a smaller value bet might be a better play.

You can also screw things up royally, like I have, and lose your stack. I’ve screwed up before by over-shoving with top set when the gut shot got there. I had AA on the T63A4 board. I end up shoving, loving my top set only to get called by the 75 for a flopped gut shot draw and he completed the straight on the river 4.

My max win turned into a max loss because I forgot about aspect #2 above.

Challenge

Here’s my challenge to you for this episode: Choose one of the three post-flop plays and start practicing it at the tables this week as your daily strategy focus.  Look for all the factors I discussed, and when they line up, pull the trigger on the play.  You’re only going to become a post-flop master by testing out every play for yourself, so get started.

Now it’s your turn to take action and do something positive for your poker game.

Support the Show

Thanks to some awesome poker peeps for picking up my 4th book, Post-flop Online Poker: Rodney Salsa, Louis Montgomery, Ian Crotty, Roy Owings, Werner Taschner and Eleftherios Milios. This book covers the above strategies and so much more!

Sky Matsuhashi