Unorthodox Betting

My name and likeness was recently used in a poker video game. In the description of my character they put, "aggressive, unorthodox."

I have to say. It was one of the proudest days of my career.

Then I played against my character, and found he was developmentally delayed. But that’s beside the point…

Since I started playing cards people have ribbed me about my betting. I like to use small bets, big bets, and overbets. In the mid 2000’s I used the all-in more than anyone I knew, and it took me to an EPT final table.

The idea was to always do the bet that people were not prepared for. If a batter has hit fastballs his entire life, then I’m going to throw him a knuckleball. Even if my knuckleball isn’t as strong as my fastball, the batter’s confusion will more than make up for it.

The other idea has always been to do the bet that’s not necessarily popular, but that makes the most sense mathematically.

I’ll give you an example.

Let’s say you’re in the small blind. You have Q-10o. The cutoff opens. This guy has been raising constantly when it’s folded to him. He’s even shown up with a 7-4s before.

You do the right thing and threebet him. He calls. The board comes 8-6-2 rainbow. What do you do?

If you’re like 80% of the people I teach you bet half-pot.

And like 80% of the people I teach when I ask you, "why did you do that?" you don’t have a terrific answer. It just seems to be the automatic play most people do, so that’s what people do.

Let’s say your opponent calls your half-pot sized bet. The turn is another offsuit two. What do you do?

This answer says a lot about you.

If you don’t really have much of an answer, then we’ve got a huge problem.

Before we go any further I want you think of how often you’ve been in this situation.

This is why I tell poker players to work from big to small. It’s fun to watch a big triple barrel on a live broadcast, but extreme live tournament bluffing is not something that you engage in often. However, being out of position on a dry board with no hand happens every day.

This is a side note, but it’s important: To get great at poker you need to develop a love for the work. When it comes to cardplaying, I have no natural talent. I used to get my ass handed to me for the first few years I played. The first 1,000 tournaments I played found me with a negative ROI.

What got me to EPT and WPT final tables and online major wins was preparation. I took a situation like this where I had no hand and broke it down with Flopzilla, Cardrunners EV, and anything else.

I’d imagine my opponent sitting across from me at a live table. I’d imagine him looking confused when I did an unorthodox bet I prepared in my office months prior. I got addicted to seeing that jilted expression, the quiet fold, and the look of acceptance when I’d tell the guy, "good fold, I had it." No need to rub it into the kid if you got it going on.

Now, let’s get back to this situation.

What if I told you that most people’s range here is mostly composed of ace highs?

Let’s say he flats you with any A-10. That’s sixteen combinations. There’s only four combinations of 10-9 suited. It takes four suited connectors to make up for one A-x you think your opponent is playing.

To me, the entire question becomes, "does my bet get ace high to fold?"

If it does, then your bet is almost always profitable. The ace highs along with the king highs and suited connectors that missed compose 50%+ of his range.

To get those hands to fold I’d recommend betting 2/3rds the pot, 3/4ths the pot, or even the size of the pot. None of those bets needs to be effective more than 50% of the time, and they’re sure to fold out ace highs.

The other bet you can do, which is really fun, is to bet something like 1/3rd pot on the flop, to insure every backdoor draw, king high, and ace high calls. Then, on the turn, you bet a little bit more than half-pot, thus securing you a fold from all those hands and a few extra chips from the flop.

What you don’t want to do, what makes no sense to me, is the half-pot sized bet.

On the that turn offsuit two you didn’t know what to do because no one does. Some guys fold ace highs to a half-pot sized bet on the flop, some don’t. You’re not sure who to double barrel against.

However, almost all people fold a high card to a 3/4ths pot-sized bet, for example. You don’t need to double barrel this person.

Almost everyone calls with too many high cards versus a 1/3rd pot-sized bet, so you have to double barrel versus that person.

This is just another example of the popular bet in poker being ineffective and an unpopular bet being perfectly logical.
Now go create your own "unorthodox" tag.

Good luck to all of you. 

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