I’d like to talk to you about something that came up the other night while playing live poker.
A player named Cody and I get involved in a pot. We are playing NL Holdem cash game; I raised to $60 from mid position with 9c 9h. Cody completes from the big blind for $40 more the flop comes Jc Tc 6h. Cody checks, I bet $90 into a $130 pot Cody calls. The turn card is 3d. Cody checks again and I decide to play the player whom I have played many hours with here.
I check the turn because the pot is now $310 and Cody has $650 in front of him and I know if bet the turn and get called or raised I must have the worst hand here and drawing to only 2 outs. I hate to give free cards here because any card from a 7 to an Ace or a clubs is a bad card for me. But I also know by checking Cody will 100% bet the river no matter what comes on 5th street. The river was the 2d and I was a little surprised when he went all in on the river betting $650 into a $310 pot. My first instinct was to call because why would he bet so much into a $310 pot?
I know river bets are made to extract value for the hand you have or river bets are made because that the only way you can win the pot. So I start the interview process and ask Cody in a laughing way “Cody, why in the hell did you bet so much?” I wanted to see his reaction to my question. I could tell he was not super happy about the bet he just made and he knew I figured out that he bet in no way made sense because if he had a pair of Jacks or Tens he would of bet a lot less and more of a protection bet so I would not raise him unless I have a monster hand. I was now 95% sure I was going to call here but I wanted to talk a little more to him and asked him to be honest with me and tell me why I should fold to this massive bet for the pot size?
The reason I asked this question was to get a little more information from him and also to let others know at the table if they try and bluff me and their story they are telling at the poker table does not make sense they will also have to go through an interview process. I wanted to make them think twice about wanting to bluff me as opposed to some of the other players at the table. He was staring me down trying to act really strong with his hand and when I saw that I knew my 2 nines were golden. I called and won the pot and he was in total shock I would call $650 in that spot. I told him he put me on the spot and I had a really tough decision to make but in reality it was the big bet that made the decision much easier.
Cody went home thinking how lucky I was to have made that call when he gave me many signs my hand was good. Cody left shaking his head telling everyone how unlucky he was that night. I don't see Cody's luck changing anytime soon until he learns some of the finer aspects of NL Holdem.
Always ask yourself when you see a river bet, is this player trying to extract money from me with his good hand? or is this person betting because it's the only way they can win the pot? Remember some advanced players will do something called a “value bet bluff”, meaning they are betting the river at a discounted price looking as if they are wanting a call and often getting someone to fold a better hand. You almost never see this play from a beginner and many top pros use this play quite a bit.