Betting on the end in limit poker

Betting on the end in limit poker

Each and every betting round in Hold'em presents its own challenges. It is well accepted that the flop and turn are the most difficult betting rounds to master. However, I find betting after the river is out more difficult to negotiate than the middle betting rounds.

In betting rounds 2 and 3 it is very important not to give away free cards if you have a made hand or to try to see additional cards as cheaply as possible if you are on a draw. If you keep this general principle in mind it is difficult to go too far wrong. You can occasionally do fancy things like check raising etc, but the generally philosophy remains true. However, this philosophy changes once all the cards are out because your opponent(s) can no longer improve. You no longer have to protect your hand. This means that you should be more inclined to check and call on the end. In fact, you should only bet/raise on the end if you are more than a 50 per cent chance of bringing down the pot. This is because you stand a chance of getting raised or check/raised if you come out betting.

The obvious question I am sure you are asking is "how do I know whether I am more than 50 % to win the pot". There is no single answer to this question. It takes experience to determine where you stand in a pot. Care must be taken to analyse the board to try to determine your opponent's likely hand(s). As a general rule it is usually correct to come out betting on the end with two pair or better (assuming the board is not paired) provided you were not raised on the turn and no obvious scare cards hit on the river. Of course you would not come out betting when there are 4 flush cards on board and you hold a low card of the same suit. Nor would you come out betting if there are 4 connected cards on board and you have completed the low straight. Obviously, common sense needs to prevail. As you become more experienced you will find that most of the difficulty in deciding on whether to bet or not on the end comes when you are holding top pair. Below I present some examples to give you a flavor for what you should be looking for in these situations when betting is marginal.

Example 1

You hold Ac Kd, raise pre-flop, and the board comes:

Ad 5c 9s

You have top pair with the best kicker. There are no obvious straight or flush draws out. You want to protect your hand after the flop so you come out betting or raising if there has already been some action. Your opponent(s) call your bet/raise and you have the betting momentum going into the turn. The turn card comes:

6 h

Betting on the end in limit poker

The betting action on the turn will usually give you the best indication as to the strength of your opponent(s) hand because the stakes have doubled since the first and second betting rounds. Most players with a strong hand will try to maximize profit by raising on the turn rather than after the flop. If you get raised on the turn it is likely that your opponent has a strong hand (perhaps two pair or trips). If, however, you bet again and only get called it is likely that you have the best hand going to the river. With no real scare cards on the board I would be betting the river if I was not raised on the turn with top pair and best kicker. If I got raised on the turn, I would call my opponents in and hope for the best. You would also throw in a bet on the end if you held AQ or perhaps even AJ in the above situation.

Example 2

Once again, you hold Ac Kd, raise pre-flop, but this time the board comes:

Ad 5d 9c

You bet after the flop and get 4 callers. At this stage alarm bells should be ringing. With all these callers it is likely that at least one of your opponents is on a diamond flush draw. If a flush card was to hit on the river you would definitely want to be checking and calling rather than betting. If however, the flush card hits on the turn you still want to bet to make sure you do not give away any free cards. If you get raised or an opponent comes out betting before the action is on you, you might want to consider folding as it is likely you are up against a flush with no chance of improving.

Example 3

Once again, you hold Ac Kd, raise pre-flop, but this time the board comes:

Ad 5d 6c

By now you should realize that protecting your hand is paramount and come out betting and get 4 callers. The turn card comes:


You fear that your opponents are either on flush or straight draws so you once again bet to protect your hand. The river comes:


Giving your opponents a possible straight. I would bet in this circumstance because it is unlikely that any of your opponents would be holding 4,7 or 7,9. If, however, the river card came 7x I would check and call. It is more likely that an opponent would be holding connected cards such as 8,9 or 3,4. If the river card was a diamond, you would obviously check and call fearing a possible flush. With practice you will become more adept at determining your chances of winning once all the cards are out. If you keep to the basic idea that you need to be better than 50 per cent before you can initiate the betting you will soon be playing like a master.

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