Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Value Semi-Bluff Stab

Every now and than you'll play in pots where it seems that everyone is weak or dis-interested. This could be due to the fact that a large number of players are in the hand or because each player genuinely does not "know where they're at". I've found that simply taking a convincing stab at the pot can be a highly profitably move.

For example, if you were to bet about half the pot, you would only need to force your opponents to fold once for every three times you make this stab. If you were to bet slightly less, say, a quarter or a third of the pot, this move is even more successful because it puts your opponents in the same position while putting less chips at risk. Also keep in mind that while making small bets in proportion to the pot may often look weak, when you are multi-way, say 3-5 opponents, these bets tend to look much stronger since all players realize that their holdings have diminished in value. Most players, especially those that are passive, don't want to get sandwiched or call light with marginal hands.

The other type of stab which I call the 'Value Semi-Bluff' stab is when you know that there is no possible way for you to have the best hand at the time, [this only occurs on the flop or turn] but you are pretty sure that your hand may have the highest potential showdown value. This occurred in a recent hand that I played as seen below:

Full Tilt Poker $0.10/$0.25 No Limit Hold'em - 9 players -
The Official Hand History Converter

BTN: $4.80
SB: $25.00
BB: $25.00
UTG: $28.24
Hero (UTG+1): $25.00
UTG+2: $21.46
MP1: $5.00
MP2: $41.07
CO: $14.65

Pre Flop: ($0.35) Hero is UTG+1 with 6s 8s
UTG calls $0.25, Hero calls $0.25, UTG+2 calls $0.25, 2 folds, CO raises to $1.25, 3 folds, UTG calls $1, Hero calls $1, 1 fold

Flop: ($4.35) 2s 9h Qh (3 players)
UTG checks, Hero checks, CO checks

Turn: ($4.35) 7s (3 players)
UTG checks, Hero bets $1.75, CO folds, UTG folds

As you can see here, I overlimped UTG+1 with 6s 8s, a hand that is pretty easy to play with deeper effective stacks. Let's not analyze the play of this limp or the loose call that I made from the CO's raise. Instead, my logic here is generally that the CO is going to have a wider range and once the UTG limper calls it's an easier over-call for me, with the added assumption that the other limper behind me will frequently over-call as well.

With the check through the turn, I have to assume that the CO pre-flop raiser is pretty weak [or slow-playing, but less likely] since she/he didn't continuation bet. This leads me to believe that the CO raiser had a hand less than top pair with the strongest hands in his range being JJ- or AK. The turn card becomes the best possible card that I can see, providing me with 6 outs to make a straight and 9 outs to make a flush.

With a Value Semi-Bluff stab at this pot, I only need to take it down right then and there about 1 in 3 times for it to be profitable. I'm also getting value out of hands that do flat call me each time a 10, 5 or spade falls on the river. It is possible for the river to back-fire, for instance, if the board is a spade or 10 which loses to a better flush [A-high or K-high] or a better straight [K-J]. However, I should expect to receive value out of hands that include top or second pair in all other instances. Nonetheless, I still believe that the Value Semi-Bluff stab is a good line to have in your arsenal which will cushion your stack during your cash game sessions.

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