Wednesday, July 31, 2013

In defense of check / raising the flop

As I continue to wait to get paid from my former Full Tilt account, I'm continuing to play on Seals and doing the live poker thing.  Its possible that when Full Tilt does finally pay out, they could use Ukash to process the payment.  Anything is possible, right?

Mr. Ciaffone is writing about playing cheaper NLHE games in his native Michigan area.  He writes about a fairly standard play, talking about c/ring the turn.

Card Player magazine, July 24, 2013 pg. 46
Bob Ciaffone writes in his column, "Cheap No-Limit Hold'em Cash Games":
"Nearly all these players play their big hands the same way.  If you ware the preflop raiser, they check and call on the flop, then check-raise the turn.  If you ever win a pot with one pair when there is a reasonable amount of money still left to wager after the betting has gone this way, you may get the game's sheriff award, but you need to draw out to win.  Slow playing the nuts will also occur in a lot of other situations.  If the stacks are big, one will sometimes see a player make a seemingly out of the blue large overbet of the pot size, maybe even all-in."

I've been seeing a lot of discussion here talking against c/ring the flop and moving towards the turn c/r.  I've been thinking about it a lot lately - and concluded the following, for different reasons than Bob:
  • In deference to Mr. Ciaffone, c/ring the flop or river instead is "different" from the norm and not as anticipated / expected
  • The turn card could bring a scare card for your opponent which allow him more incentive to fold
  • The flop c/r is a much "easier" call as it will be less of a dollar amount than the turn or river c/r
  • The turn bet after a flop c/r can be much larger relative to the pot, and possibly sets up an all in shove for a lot of 100 BB stacks
  • A flop c/r is much "cheaper" for you whereby a turn c/r is a more costly raise, particularly when executed as a bluff
In defense of the turn c/r:
  • Keep other players in the hand when they're drawing thin, adding value to the pot
  • Conceals your true hand strength
  • Guarantees a bet and charge on the flop (i.e. you're leading instead of looking to c/r)
  • You're putting in a lot more money with stronger equity (i.e. your opponents' equity has been halved in the hand while your equity has doubled with one card to come)
There is merit to both means of c/ring.  The primary reason I opt to c/r the flop rather than the turn is primarily for cost; I can c/r my semi bluffs and made hands much more cheaply, which serves as a balancing effect.  The cost of semi bluffing the turn is much higher given my equity.  If I only c/r the flop with bluffs and c/r the turn with value, that can put me in a position where my opponents can put 2 & 2 together and call more lightly on the flop c/r's.


  1. I would argue that balancing at 1/2 is highly overrated. I just don't think it something you need to concern yourself with generally other than the odd 1 or 2 players you will occasionally bump into. In fact, I have started coaching and have dissuaded them (at least for the moment) from concerning themselves with balance. I am focusing them entirely on value.

    FTR I don't mind c/r the flops "in general" I just think the hands you have posted are better served with leads.

    1. If nothing else, I've been seriously contemplating each flop bet vs. c/r. You've spawned me to start thinking about the "auto" bets more. In fact, I've been more in tune with how / what I'm repping and how / what I want to rep by my openning salvo (i.e. strong consideration between going for a flop c/r vs. a flop donk).

      Little off topic, but until recently, I had been treating a c/r as if it were someone betting out of turn ahead of me. In other words, I shake my head at the players who contemplate a bet and while contemplating, another player leads. The other player is forced to pull back his bet (which is binding assuming a checked action to him) and the original player goes & makes his bet. Of course the out-of-turn actor either calls or raises. If I'm in that spot, I'm allowing out-of-turn player to lead all day so that I can get more money in by c/ring him straight away. FWIW, I see this kinda of mistake / tell at least once every other session - that tell / mistake is prolly worth around $30-40...

  2. There are a lot of variables here. In a standard $1-2 NL table, how many of the players are really even aware of what is going on? What kind of rep have you established?

    I try to mix things up as much as possible unless regular ABC play against a table of poor players is the way to go.


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