Pot control Even when we are playing solid hands pre flop, we're still going to get ourselves into some marginal spots post flop. It's poker, it's never going to be THAT simple.
It's important not to get attached to marginal hands. We need to recognise times that we have a strong value hand, in which case we're happy to get all the money in. We need also to recognise times when we have a good hand, which will be good a lot of the time, but will also be behind sometimes.
The above hand is a good example of pot control. It's an overpair to the board, "it's the nuts at NL4" - not necessarily.
It's a pot where someone else has raised pre flop. We've called to set mine as our opponent is deep stacked enough to offer us good implied odds (see pre flop strategy).
I donk lead out for value, as I have a strong hand. I want information about the initial raisers hand, does he have an overpair? (I fold here if I am raised).
The initial raiser folds, and I get a call from the other guy. I have no real idea what his range is readless. He could have literally anything right? You know the drill at NL4!! So alarm bells are going off, and the turn brings an over-card.
My hand is now definitely a marginal hand, and I want to get to showdown. Checking to him allows him to bluff, and stops us inflating the pot, we don't want to bet and get raised, because we have to fold. We can get ourselves in a mess in situations like this by betting out of position.
The end of the hand is posted below (brag) but that's just for fun, It's a hand from later on in my session, and I had notes/reads on the opponent, that I will come to later in the thread.
Just a quick note on pot controlling draws. Referring back to the notes on C-betting, if we have the betting lead post flop, and we have a draw, we improve on a lot of turns. So it's okay to bet our good draws in position.
If we are out of position or our opponent has the betting lead pre flop, it's best to check and call bets until we hit. Or fold if we aren't getting the right price. Use the notes on "c-betting" to identify good and bad flops to c-bet our draws on.
Playing the river/overbetting.
I thought it would be good to introduce the over-bet. I think this is one of our best weapons at micro stakes. It's different to making pre flop and flop bet sizes "big", in that we normally only over-bet on the river. Overbet also means betting "more than the pot"
We're always looking for ways to maximise value. Our whole strategy from pre flop to now, on the river, has been about extracting as much money from our opponents as we can. Betting/raising strong is fine, but using the over-bet effectively can boost your win-rate big-time!
It normally works best when the pot is small. If the pot is still small on the river, it means our hand has likely improved a lot on the turn or river, because if we were strong pre flop and on the flop, our strategy dictates that the pot would be big by now, not small. So we've got there on the river by taking the pot control line then improving. We need to somehow get value, but the pot is tiny, how can we maximise this opportunity? OVERBET!
The hand above, we've picked up a draw to the nuts, nothing to shout about, so we keep the pot as small as possible. It's really cheap to get there, and we do. The pot is only 50p though. Sure we could bet 35p and hope he has something, or we can go for max value and overbet the pot. We know people don't like to fold, so they will call us much wider than they should. Bang in a 2x the pot sized bet, and let him station off his money to us, happy days! If he folds? meh, we might have lost 30p of value, but the times we get paid £1.20 more than makes up for it.
Another example below.
I raise the turn here, as my draw is MASSIVE, and the pot is so small. My opponents are both quite deep stacked, so I want to build the pot slightly, to maximise my potential winnings should I hit my draw on the river. We have a great chance of improving on the river, and good "implied odds" against our opponents stacks.
If our opponents are shallow, we needn't raise here. It's important to keep an eye on opponents stack sizes post flop as well as pre flop. But again, as always, the idea on the end is to try and extract maximum value, raising the turn with big "pot equity" (or a big chance of our hand improving) allows us to make a more powerful value bet or in this case, over-bet on the river.
Mentally I appreciate that many find this level frustrating, and are keen to get up the levels and play some "proper poker" But the fact is you have to do the donkey work and build up the discipline, bankroll and basic understanding that will stand you in good stead when you get there. Not many jump straight into the deep end and survive. It's a grind, but it's essential that you do it, and that you beat it. For your confidence as well as your bankroll. It feels good stacking people and being the best player at the table. And we can win lots of money here, which is great right. So stop moaning about it, get on with it, put the hours in, and the sooner you beat it the sooner you can get outta there!!!
- Always remember that the key to beating this level is to get value!
- Solid hand selection.
- Look at stack sizes before entering a pot.
- Always bet and raise big for value.
- Identify when your value hand turns into a marginal hand and pot control accordingly.
- Look at board texture and opponent stack sizes throughout the hand
- Don't be afraid of losing your customer.
- Don't be a hero !!!!
- Solid play wins the money, you can get fancy and outplay donkeys like me, when you get up to the higher micro stakes.
I hope this has helped some of you out. I enjoyed doing it. Will do something similar about using notes and reads at NL4, and how they can help with decision making in the marginal spots we sometimes get into. But until then if you stick to the above, you won’t go far wrong.
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