There are situations in no limit Texas hold’em cash games where you have to bet to deny your opponent their equity share of the pot. Let us look at an example here to show you what I mean. It is folded around to an opponent in the cut-off seat that raises with the Kd-Jc. Now obviously we don’t know their hand but we are on the button with the 8d-8s and call. There is margin in 3/betting if our opponent is weak enough or stacks are deep enough but I prefer calling. The raise was to 3.5bb and both blinds folded and so we head to the flop with 8.5bb in the middle.
Let us say that the stacks are 100bb and the flop comes 10h-7s-2d and our opponent bets 5.5bb and we call making the pot 19.5bb. The turn card is the 4h and our opponent checks. Now there are certain scenarios here where we have to bet the turn and where checking it back is a mistake. Those scenarios are when our opponent will not place any more money into the pot unless they improve.
Here our opponent has 13.6% equity but if they will only ever place money into the pot when they hit a jack or a king then we have absolutely no value in checking this hand back. Checking it back only works if our opponent will bluff the river because we can extract value that way but if they don’t bluff the river then we win nothing. So what is actually happening here is that we are winning the pot 86.4% of the time which seems great on the surface.
However if we bet though then we are increasing that to 100% and so what is the point in taking a risk even if that risk is only 13.6%? It is these percentages that turn winning players into break even players and break even players into losing players. Sometimes the margins can be very small but the fact remains that once in every seven or eight pots then you are going to lose a pot that you should have won.
Multiply that by your poker session and in a given week or month or year and the difference is massive. We can see here that by checking back the turn then we allow a situation to develop where we cannot make any more money if our opponent plays passively and they then play perfectly.
This is something that we cannot possibly allow but it also highlights another important point. This is that hitting a set doesn’t always help us if our opponent has nothing. If we hit a seven on the river then this may seem great but our opponent still hasn’t hit a jack or a king and so we will still fail to extract extra value. This is a good indicator as to why playing a fit or fold strategy doesn’t work in tight aggressive games because even when you hit the hand that you were hoping to hit then you still dong get any pay off.