The Delayed Continuation Bet ; Making Snap Judgments

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Poker Strategy With Dusty Schmidt: The Delayed Continuation Bet

Schmidt Explains When To Wait Until The Turn To Fire
by Dusty Schmidt
www.cardplayer.com
Dusty Schmidt

In this series of articles, I discuss every play in the book. That’s why I call it The Playbook! In this installment, we’ll be looking at a play on the flop that is designed to set up a play on the turn.

Delayed Continuation Bet

Last time, we took a look at situations where you see the flop and decide that you are done with the hand and will not put any more money in the pot. We called that the Post-flop Give Up. Before that, we looked at the Flop Continuation Bet, which obviously applies to situations where you do want to put more money in the pot, whether or not you intend to continue betting or calling on further streets. Today, we’ll look at checking the flop with the intention of continuing in the hand. We’re going to examine the Delayed Continuation Bet (or C-Bet).

You may find situations where you are out of position as the preflop aggressor and decide that you want to check-raise instead of continuation bet, either as a bluff or as a value play. That’s not what the Delayed Continuation Bet is about. No, the Delayed C-Bet is executed in position, and the bet itself comes on the turn.

So the set up for the play is as follows:

1. You raise in position before the flop.
2. One or more players call your raise. These players may be limpers who call your raise, or blinds who “defend” against your “steal.”
3. The flop comes out and none of your opponents bet.
4. You decide that instead of putting out a continuation bet now, you will wait to see the turn card, at which point you will likely bet if everyone checks to you again.

Why Bet Later When I Can Bet Now?

The Flop Continuation Bet can be a powerful play. When your opponents check to you, it often indicates weakness. There is merit in giving your opponents a chance to fold right away without giving them the opportunity to see another card for free. So why check back on the flop with the intention of bluffing the turn, if c-betting the flop might be a profitable play? The answer is that waiting to c-bet will sometimes be a more profitable play.

In poker, we don’t always have a profitable option and an unprofitable one. Sometimes we are fortunate enough to have two (or more) unequally profitable opportunities. When faced with the opportunity to invest in a stock that will double your investment money in three years, you would be crazy not to take it, right? Well, what if you also had the opportunity to invest in another stock that would quadruple your money in just two years? The first stock doesn’t look so hot anymore.

It’s not enough to see a profitable play and make it. You should first look at all of your options, then find the most profitable one and make that play.

Reasons to Check the Flop

There are many reasons you could check back the flop. Here are a few of them:

• You hate the flop and you’re done with the hand.
• You would like to see the turn for free.
• You want to get value from your hand, but you also want to control the size of the pot.
• You plan a Delayed Continuation Bet.

Examining these one-by-one will give us a clearer idea of what your opponents will think you’re doing when they see you check back the flop.

You hate the flop. On flops that intersect more heavily with your opponent’s range than with your range, giving up is always an option. When you check back on a board like this, it’s usually a sign of weakness. That’s fine. Giving up costs nothing, which makes it cheaper than continuing to put money in the pot in an unprofitable situation.

If your opponents see this as an obvious situation for you to give up, one of them is likely to take a stab at the pot.

You would like a free turn. When you flop a hand that is interesting but not strong, you might want to take a free turn if you think your opponents are likely to raise any c-bet you might make. It’s all well and good to semibluff with a strong draw, but you won’t always hold a draw that can stand a raise. Checking back can allow you to realize the equity of your hand without putting money in when you’re behind.

You want to control the size of the pot. When you hold a hand of decent strength that is unlikely to be outdrawn, you will often find yourself in a position to get two streets of value. That can mean betting the flop and the turn, then checking back the river. But when you bet the flop and the turn, the pot will be rather large on the river. This gives your opponent the opportunity to present you with some uncomfortable decisions. To avoid this, many players will bet the flop and check back on the turn. That is one way to control the size of the pot. Another is to check the flop with the intention of betting the turn and possibly the river.

Knowing when your opponents think you are likely to be exercising pot control is a key element to knowing when to utilize the Delayed Continuation Bet.

You plan a Delayed Continuation Bet. And this is what we’ve been working up to. You want to take a stab at the pot, but you decide that it will be more profitable to make your move on the turn. Some opponents will see this coming, or they’ll think you’ve had a change of heart after checking the flop.

The Key to the Delayed Continuation Bet

In poker, we often want to be doing one thing while making it look like we’re doing the opposite. In the case of the delayed c-bet, we want to make it look like our flop check was for pot control purposes rather than a sign of weakness.

You could say that pot control is a sign of weakness, but it’s more a sign of moderate strength. By checking back the flop, you are saying, “I don’t want to play a huge pot with this hand, but I have enough to check.” In other words, the fact that you didn’t make a continuation bet will often be perceived as a sign of strength. Because if you had absolutely nothing, why wouldn’t you just bet?

The advantages of the Delayed Continuation Bet

Delaying your continuation bet has a few advantages:

• You save yourself a bet when your opponent holds a monster and was planning to check-raise.
• You get to see the turn card for free.
• You can make a more informed decision about bluffing, since you have more information at your disposal. (You know the turn card and your opponents’ turn action.)
• You may gain credibility if your check back looks like pot control rather than surrender.

Takeaway

Effective deployment of the Delayed Continuation Bet relies heavily on understanding how your opponent perceives your strategy. If you don’t have a strong sense of this, you may be better off making most of your c-bets on the flop. But if you can tell when your opponent thinks you’re value-checking as opposed to giving up, you can use his observations against him. ?

With more than $5 million in cash game winnings in his 9-year career, Dusty “leatherass” Schmidt is the consummate grinder. In 2007, Dusty became one of the first SuperNova Elites and later became a member of PokerStars Team Online. He is currently the player ambassador for America’s Cardroom. He is the author of Treat Your Poker Like A Business and Don’t Listen To Phil Hellmuth, available at cardoza.com. Schmidt’s newest book, Poker In Practice: Critical Concepts, can be found at pokerinpractice.com.

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Poker Strategy With Ed Miller: Making Snap Judgments
Miller Explains Why You Should Sometimes Judge A Book By Its Cover
by Ed Miller
www.cardplayer.com

I judge my opponents by the way they look. Then I make adjustments to my strategy based on these judgments. I do it every time I play, and these snap judgments form the basis of my strategy choices against unknown players until I have more information.

I played a session recently when two of these snap judgments first saved and then made me quite a bit of money that I would have missed out on otherwise.

The first snap judgment was about an Asian man in his 40s or 50s. He was a little bit overweight and wearing a Margaritaville t-shirt and a nondescript baseball cap. He hunched over the table.

Everything about his look said to me that he was a tourist, a recreational player, and an unconfident poker player. I’d seen the demographic and the dress and the posture many times before, and it added up to a loose and passive player who wouldn’t give anyone much trouble.

Except that almost as soon as he sat at the table, his guns were blazing. He raised four of the first six pots. He blew me off one hand with a big turn raise. He was betting and raising like a crazy person, winning each pot without a showdown.

It’s unlikely for a player to be dealt four very strong hands in such a short period of time. And furthermore, these were his very first hands.

If my snap judgment about his appearance hadn’t been so strong, I would quickly have assumed that he was trying to run over the table. But I just could not bring myself to assume that this player—with his specific look and body language—was here to LAG it up. I’d literally never in my life seen a player look and behave like him and yet play like a maniac.

The very next hand arose a situation where I considered making a play. A professional player opened for $20, and this player reraised to $60 with about $1,000 behind. I had A (Diamond) 10 (Diamond) in the big blind. If I think this player is the type I would assume based on my visual read, then I would expect his reraising range to be tight, and I would fold A-10 suited to the raise and reraise.

If instead he’s the player he seems to be based on his first six hands at the table, I would consider four-betting as a bluff with this hand. It’s a great hand to bluff with, and if I think my opponent is likely to be light on his reraise, it should be profitable for me.

I considered it for about 20 seconds, but ultimately I went with my original snap judgment. I’d never seen a player with exactly this set of personal characteristics fail to play to type. I wasn’t willing to throw out years of experience based on just a few hands.

I folded, but the other player called the reraise and played the hand to showdown. The reraiser in question ended up winning the hand with K-K.

From that point on, the storm was over. He played three hours of meek no-limit hold’em. He just happened to catch five good hands in his first round at the table. It’s a rare thing, but it happens.

I surprised myself with how much weight I put into my snap judgment. I wouldn’t always cling so hard to a visual read, but these events showed me how much weight I can put into one when I feel like I have a lot of past experience with a particular player type.

My second snap judgment came against a white guy probably in his early 20s. He was a big fellow with a young face who seemed fresh out of college.

In Las Vegas, this demographic usually fits one of two categories of player. First, it’s casual players who are on vacation and want to get a few hours of play in before drinking with their buddies. These guys usually buy in for significantly less than the maximum—often just $200 to $500 in a $2-$5 no-limit hold’em game. They also show some unease with playing in the casino setting, since, due to their age, much of their experience is likely online play and home games.

Then there are the pros and the wannabe pros. These guys almost never sit with less than a maximum buy-in. They socialize with others like them in the room, but they usually don’t interact much with the tourists or other players. When I moved to Vegas years ago at age 23, this was me.

This guy had a stack of black chips in front of him, and two of his young, white, male friends kept coming over to chat.

Pro.

The core skill of a pro in a $2-$5 Vegas game is barreling. When your opponents check, you bet, no matter what you have. Pros do this reliably in many situations, while non-pros typically will abandon a bluff after their flop continuation bet gets called—or possibly after a second try on the turn.

So this guy opened for $20 from the cutoff, and I called in the big blind with Q-J.
The flop came J-7-3, and I check-called $30.

The turn was a K, and I check-called $70.

The river was a 2, and I check-called $150.

If my opponent were one of the recreational tourists, I would likely have assumed that the $150 river bet was not a bluff, and therefore that my jack was beaten. I probably would have folded.

But because of my snap judgment that my opponent here was a pro (or at least someone trying to make it as a pro), I assumed he was likely to try to bluff three times, and I called. Indeed, he showed A-9, and I won.

I think it behooves aspiring pros to try to conceal their status. Now, I made no attempt to do so when I was 23, so I fully understand why they don’t. But if you broadcast that you are a professional player with the way you dress and handle yourself, you give people like me clues about how to handle situations like the above. Ultimately, this costs you money.

Ideally, you want to present yourself as a specific, common player type. In Las Vegas, passing as a tourist—at least to other tourists—goes a long way. Tourists are well aware that pros inhabit the games here, and they’re constantly on alert. Most don’t particularly want to give action to pros, and if they make you as a pro, they might behave more unpredictably than usual.

It’s just food for thought. It can only help to appear one way at a poker table, but to play differently. The more you play to type, the more you allow my snap judgments to be good judgments. ?

Ed’s newest book, The Course: Serious Hold ‘Em Strategy For Smart Players is available now at his website edmillerpoker.com. You can also find original articles and instructional videos by Ed at the training site redchippoker.com.

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