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Suppose you’re playing six-handed $100 buy-in no-limit hold’em. You’re dealt AH KS under the gun. You raise to $3. The button and the blinds call, making the pot $12 going into the flop. The flop is AD JS 3S. The blinds check to you, you bet pot, the button calls, and the blinds fold. The pot is $36, and the turn is the 9H.. You bet pot, and the button calls. The pot is $108. The river is the 2S. You go all-in for $49, and your opponent calls. Did you win this hand?

Probably not. Many players underestimate their opponents and assume they will call large, pot-sized bets with top pair and a weak kicker – or even a lesser pair. However, making large pot-sized pots is generally not the way to get value from top pair/top kicker (TPTK) against most opponents. If you have TPTK or an overpair, pot-sized bets generally constrain your opponents’ calling distributions to hands that all have you beaten.

Every Made Poker Hand Is Not a Double Up

If you make a bet that constrains your opponents’ calling distributions to hands that are all better than yours, then you will lose money in the long run when playing top pair or overpairs. And if you’re losing money with these hands, you’re a losing player. The key to getting value from your good (but vulnerable) hands is realizing that your goal isn’t to double up every time you’re in a pot.

Instead of making large pot-sized bets that constrain your opponents’ calling distributions and possibly leave you pot-committed, make bets that are smaller. Make bets that increase your opponents’ calling ranges substantially, so that the hands you’re trying to get value from are actually ahead of your opponents’ calling ranges. Also make bets that don’t leave you pot-committed when your opponents have you crushed.

You won’t double-up nearly as often, but you also won’t be getting stacked with TPTK and overpairs against players you’ve misjudged. And realize that you will be winning pots that are larger than average. Instead of making lots of large, discontinuous jumps, your stack will be something more like a tank that moves slowly (but surely) towards its destination.

When To Go For The Kill

Of course, it’s still important to seek opportunities to go for the kill. When you face opponents who will call pot-sized bets with very marginal holdings, recognize and capitalize appropriately. Also recognize situations when your opponents have very good hands that they will call substantially larger bets with. When you have your opponents beaten in these situations, make them pay – possibly by overbetting the pot.

Piece by piece will be your general mentality. But as always, keep your mind open!

Article Source: Tony Guerrera

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