Holdem Betting StrategySo we all understand that a bet in holdem is supposed to be indicative of strength, that your hand is a good one, and that your oponent is in trouble.  But since any poker player worth his or her salt understands that manipulating your bets to disguise your hand is an integral part of poker, just how far does this maxim on holdem betting strategy take us?

The answer…not very far.  The bottom line is we’re unlikely to obtain the information we need from any single bet taken in isolation.  Rather, it’s a players betting patterns in a hand, combined with their overall holdem betting strategy at the table that can help us discern the real strength of their hand…despite their best efforts to confuse us. 

Before moving on, it’s integral when considering which hold em betting strategy you want to employ to have a solid understanding of poker odds.  Whilst ignoring odds won’t always lead to bad results, they will effect your decision making process.  Let’s take a look at some of the types of holdem betting strategies we can employ.

Blind Stealing
When playing in late position in an unraised pot, it is often a profitable play to raise the pot even with a wide range of hands.  This is done with a view to forcing the small and big blind to fold, allowing you to ‘steal the blind’ uncontested. This play is essentially utilised in tournament play in late stages where the blinds are large relative to stack sizes.  Even in the small blind, when the blinds are high enough it can be profitable to raise the big blind as frequently as 60%, presuming that the big blind is playing optimum poker. 

Steal Raise
The opportunity for this play arises when all players have checked or called to you without raising.  It is a fairly straight forward holdem betting strategy which will frequently enable you to take down the pot, or in the event that you are called, provide you with information about the strength of your opponents hand.

Check Raising
Check raising has become something of a dirty word of recent years, but this is an often underutilized holdem betting strategy which can yield decent results. It is essentially a trap play, where you pot commit your oponent by allowing them to commit chips to a pot before you put in a raise.  With aggressive play typifying online betting strategies, a check raise (where the raise is at least twice the size of the other players bet) can often be viewed with some distain, and not given the respect it has recieved historically.  For this reason, don’t be afraid to utilize this play for both bluffing, and when you’re holding a monster.

Steam Or Tilt Raise 
This one can be fun.  Ever lost a large pot to a bad beat and then woken up with a huge hand a round or two later?  Don’t hold back, make an overbet or over raise and let the table believe you’re still dirty on the hand you lost and are just playing steamed…or on tilt. 

Open Raising
Raising in early position is a move of aggression which is designed to limit the number of other players in the hand. It signifies hand strength on the basis that the raise has been made by a player knowing they do not have the benefit of position in later rounds.  A call or raise by another player of a large open raise can indicate solid holdings on the part of that player.   

The Squeeze Play
When there is a raise and a call by players in front of you, you push (or put in a large re-raise) usually from the small or big blind position. Ideally this play is used when a late position player puts in a raise or call, as they may have a wide range of hand holdings and have made a speculative call based on position.  This play forces the initial raiser to call even with slightly marginal holdings knowing they may get called behind.  Frequently this knowledge will result in a fold.  Similarly, the caller is now forced to commit a large number of chips to see a flop.  This is a particularly effective play when you have a large enough stack (larger than your oponents) giving you fold equity. 

Stop And Go 
This play involves calling a raise from early position (first to act on the flop) and betting the flop really hard.  This forces the pre-flop raiser to consider the strength of your hand and calling a large bet where they have little or no information.   

Using a combination of these basic plays and mixing it up can go a long way to keeping your opponent’s guessing.  Keep in mind that the real goal in holdem betting strategy is to get the guy on the other side of the felt to pay off your monsters, and fold to your bluffs.  Happy hunting.

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