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Insider Secrets: Doubling Your Chipstack

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Quad AcesThere it is, the flop you’ve been waiting for: The Stone Cold Nuts. Jackpot.

Stay cool. Keep your face blank and impassive, unless you’re playing online in which case you should feel free to let out a whoop and/or fistpump, and/or stop chatting with babes online.

Of course, you don’t really have much to celebrate yet. All you have is a pretty hand. It’s time to apply some poker strategy and turn those cards into cold hard cash.

The Secret to Getting Paid

The biggest mistake that rookie poker players make with a flopped monster hand is to automatically slow-play to the river. The desire for deception is admirable, but it usually comes at the cost of profits. Instead of asking yourself, how can I look weak, you should be asking, how can I get as much money into the pot as possible? And the answer, of course, is to bet.

As a smart player, you should be betting on the majority of flops anyway, no matter if you hit the board or not. These continuation bets are a consistent source of profit for aggressive players. Not only are they profitable on their own, but they establish a pattern that helps get you paid when you flop huge.

Make your bet a good solid size – more than 1/2 the size of the pot is best – but most importantly, be consistent with the normal amount of your continuation bets (c-bets).

A Chance to Be Tricky

The turn, as usual, is the most difficult street to play. But it also gives you the most chance to be creative. Use the reads you have on your opponent to determine the most profitable course of action. Does he like to attack at signs of weakness? Go for a check-raise. Is he a passive player who doesn’t like to fold? Keep betting big.

Just keep your mind on the ultimate goal: to get as much money into the pot as possible. If you suspect your opponent is committed to going to showdown, make him pay through the nose for the privilege. Look ahead to the river, and size your turn bet so that you can go all-in by the river without making a big overbet.

Drop the Hammer

By the time the hand reaches the river, you should already have built to pot to a tidy sum. This is very The Hammerimportant because players make and analyze bets in proportion to the size of the pot. You probably won’t get a payoff if you bet $30 into a $10 pot, whereas a bet of that same size into a $50 pot is much more likely to find a caller. There’s no amount of cunning you can employ on the river to make up for not pumping the pot earlier in the hand.

If an obvious draw to a flush or straight has come in on the river and you’re in the catbird seat holding a full house or better, the best course of action is usually to bet small. This has two benefits:

  • If your opponent holds something like two pairs or a high one pair hand, he will be worried that you just improved to a straight or flush and thus may not call a larger bet.
  • If your opponent has just completed his draw, he’s now likely to think he has the best hand. Facing a large bet might make him cautious, prompting a smooth call, while a small bet won’t do much to hurt his confidence. He will often put in a small raise, allowing you to come back over the top with your whole stack.

If, on the other hand, the flop’s most prominent draw has failed to come in, you’re better off making a big bet – maybe even going all-in. Many players will assume that your large wager is one of desperation and try to pick off your ‘bluff’.

If life was easy, you’d be able to get your opponent all-in every time you landed a monster hand. But of course, it often doesn’t work out that way.

There will be plenty of times when your opponents all fold to a single flop bet, handing you a small pot for your big hand. This is understandably frustrating, but it’s important to remember that betting aggressively maximizes your returns in the long run. Just be patient. Once you’re stacking your opponents’ chips from the massive pot you just won, you’ll realize it was worth it.

 

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