How to Get Paid Off with Big Hands

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How to Get Paid Off with Big Hands

Post  Scat Damon on Tue Jan 31, 2012 1:24 am

By: Daniel Skolovy

So you've flopped a monster. That's the easy part. Now how do you plan on getting paid?

Big hands deserve big pots. But what's the best way to get your stack into the pot?

Building a big pot may be simple in theory, but in reality there's a lot more to it. One of the first concepts that you learn when you start playing poker is there are big-pot hands and small-pot hands.

What dictates whether a hand's a big- or small-pot one depends on the circumstances.

Start Out Small

Generally, small-pot hands are hands like one pair. Big-pot hands are gonna be the hands where you and your opponent get a piece of the flop. Flopping two pair to your opponent's TPTK is a great situation to be in, turning you're semi-bluff flop bet into a value bet when you hit that straight/flush combo draw on the turn. Setting yourself up to catch straights, sets, full houses - hands you're willing to risk your whole stack with in hopes of winning your opponent's, is where you're going to win your big pots.

The reason building large pots is so much more difficult than it looks is because your opponent is trying to protect his stack.

He, just like you, is trying his best to only put his money in when he thinks he has the best of it. He isn't just going to give up his stack without a fight.

Poker isn't like that (any more). You have to trick your opponent into thinking that his hand is better than yours - which is not always an easy task.

When you make that big hand, your ultimate goal is to get it all-in because you can't win your opponent's stack without putting your stack on the line.

The problem is, you can't just bet your stack right away. No opponent will ever call you if you elect to bet $200 into $6.

The pot starts out small, and you need to gradually build it so that by the time the river is dealt it's large enough for you to bet your entire stack.

Bet, Bet, Bet

The most basic method of building a pot is to just bet, bet, bet. Bet all three streets, the flop, the turn and the river.

In No-Limit poker, bets are always made in relation to the pot size. That means that on each street the pot grows exponentially. While the pot may be small on the flop, by the river it could be massive.

Let's look at an example.

$1/$2 No-Limit, effective stacks $200. You raise to $9 on the button with A♥ K♠ and the big blind calls. The flop comes down Q♠ J♣ T♥.

The big blind checks and you bet $15 into $19. He calls once again. The turn comes 2♥ and the big blind checks again. You now bet $45 into $49 and he calls again.

The river comes down 6♣ and your opponent checks.

The river now contains $139 and you have $131 in your stack. You can now get all-in on the river without ever having to make an overbet.

The bet, bet, bet method works especially well against weaker, calling-station type players.

It can also be effective if your image is very bad - i.e. you've been caught bluffing recently or you have recently lost a few big pots and your opponents have reason to believe that you're tilting.

The Check-Raise

Another way to build a pot fast is to use the check-raise.

As you probably know, the check-raise is when you check the action over to your opponent in hopes that he will bet and then you come over the top with a raise when he does.

The check-raise is effective at building pots because it allows you to get two rounds of betting from a single round - your opponent's bet and then your raise. Thus it allows you to build big pots faster.

The check-raise is not without its own faults. Check-raises scream strength and will often blow your opponent completely out of the water.

Furthermore, when you check, your opponent may elect to just check through, eliminating an entire round of betting.

Both forcing your opponent to fold and eliminating a street of betting are counterproductive to building large pots. You need three streets to build a pot big enough to get a 100BB stack all-in.

If you eliminate one of them, you're seldom going to get all-in without having to make an overbet - which is the major reason why slow-playing is not an effective way to build a pot.

You're best limiting yourself to check-raising only when you know your opponent will bet. That way you minimize the risk of losing a round of betting those times your opponent checks through.


Making Your Hand Is Only Half the Battle

Trying to decide how best to build a big pot is a good problem to have because it means you have a hand you're willing to go to the felt with.

Ultimately, it will be up to you to decide which line is the best for the situation. The right decision, like everything in poker, depends on many factors ... your image, your opponent's range, the table flow, etc.

There is no cookie-cutter way to play any hand, and one line might be best against one player but could be completely terrible against a different player.

It's up to you to pay attention to your opponents and use whatever information you have to your advantage to find the best possible line with your big hands.
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Scat Damon
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