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I heard about some players will bet without considering the cards they hold in poker. Can this be true? That is, can they soundly bet against their opponents' cards if they sense weakness and still have a chance to bluff out a better hand?

EDIT

Between cards or bets, is one more important than the other, and when?

  • can you rephrase your question? What do you mean by "Cards rules, whatever bets goes on..."? What does "Cards rules" mean? – TacticalCoder Apr 2 '12 at 2:00
  • Cards rules means whatever you bet, someone can get higher cards, call and win. – H_7 Apr 2 '12 at 23:12
  • @Jeffrey Blake: I edited the question so that it now makes sense (and it was peer approved). Can you reopen it in its edited form? – Tom Au Apr 10 '12 at 1:53
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Simple answer: Both.

Longer answer: Poker is a game of imperfect information. The more information you can gather before making a decision, the better decision you are capable of making, provided the information is reliable and you know how to incorporate it into your decision. Ignoring either betting patterns or cards means you are giving up an edge to your opponents. Can you overcome that and still win? Perhaps.

Annette Obrestad famously won an online tournament once in which she put a piece of paper over the place where her hole cards were displayed. She did this as an exercise to force herself to tune into other information sources.

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Cards are more important if most hands go to a "showdown." That is a situation where the "best hand wins." The kind of poker this represents is sometimes called "no fold 'em" poker. Poor players (that call too much) often play this way. But the reverse is not true; good players may play this way if conditions are right.

Ironically, a "reverse" situation sometimes occurs against a mid-level player. This is a player that has "just started" in learning how to fold. Like the beginning player, he "stays" for a bet or two on too many hands, but unlike the beginner, he is more likely to fold before the river, and the showdown. Against this type of player, a very good player will sense that the mid-level player is 1) weak, and 2) likely to fold if bet into on a round when the bets double. At such times, the good player may bet without regard to his own cards, because he is "playing his opponent's cards instead of his own."

Then there was the example of an expert player (playing with other experts), who had thrown away EVERY HAND for two or three hours, and thereby earned a reputation as a "tight" player. He then picked up a J-4 (offsuit) and thought to himself, "I can now win with this hand by raising." He did, and his fellow experts all folded because they (wrongly) concluded:"This guy must have hit A-A since he doesn't seem to play with many hands." The strategy might not have worked if there were a beginner at the table who would call him down with say, 2-2, unless the expert paired one of his "overcards."

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There is this famous story of the poker pro Annette Obrestad, who succeeded in winning an online tournament blind, meaning that she never looked at her hole cards during the whole tournament. (More precisely, she did it once, when she was put all in.)

So for expert players, the behavior of the other players, the relative positions and the structure of the board together probably have a value at least comparable to the value of the knowledge than the own hole cards.

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Your question is equivalent of asking: What's more important? An arm or a leg?

Yes, there are some pros who are playing blind and yes, as azimut said, Obrestad played blind an entire tournament. But these are exceptions, exceptions made public by the media just because they are different. When 99% of the people plays poker by looking at their cards, that 1% becomes special.

But you don't know many details: you don't know how strong was the field in Oberstad's tournament. You don't know how much playing experience do these guys have. You don't know how much the psychic pro knows about his opponent. If my opponent has an 85% fold to 3bet preflop, I can 3bet him ATC and most of the times he'll fold (as long as I don't 3bet him very often so he understands what I am doing). If I am 3betting a nit, in a live casino, without looking at my cards, but I know he'll mostly fold, am I a psychic? In High Stakes Poker, Negreanu still looks at his cards, as far as I know.

My opinion is that, in the big poker soup of things, both cards and bets are as important. Else, everybody would play mental powers and play blind on a consistent basis.

  • Most of this seems to be a comment to the answer I gave a few hours ago. In my opinion, you should split that into twow parts: The comment to my answer should go ... well ... as a comment to my answer. Your own answer should be self-contained and stay here. – azimut May 12 '13 at 21:46
  • @azimut I edited my answer. Is it OK with you now? I used a part of your answer because it was a good example to support what I wanted to say. – Bogdan Doicin May 13 '13 at 10:42
  • I still think that the best place to comment other answers is to put it there as a comment. But well... – azimut May 13 '13 at 12:33
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I think on late position especially on dealer/button the bets are more important than hands cause u have information about opponents moves (u can play little loose meant increase your range not only tight/strong hands) and thus u can play them they don't know about your cards e.g on flop when they checked you can raise to test if they had something :)

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You have some good answers but bets are not limited to bluffs. You need to size bets also for max value. If you are on the nuts and don't suspect your opponent hit the flop then a pot size bet on the flop is wrong.

You need to size your bets to get max value, bluff, and not be predictable. There is a lot to it. On the flop if you bet 1/2 with mid pair or better, full pot with 2 pair or better, full pot with bluff, and check everything else you will be exploited by a mid range or better player.

Bluff when you sense weakness and according to GTO you should bluff a fraction of the time. For a pot size bet like 1/3 of the bets should be bluffs.

A good hedge is to semi bluff some draws where you have bluff equity and some hand equity. I put that in my 1/3 bluffs and I can get away with very few stone cold bluffs unless I sense weakness. I would also get killed by a pro. You need to bluff within your overall ability.

The over bet is a very powerful bluff but if it does not work then it is a very costly bluff. Too many amateurs push at like 10x the pot when 2x the pot would do the same thing. Yes you see pros do it but they are pros. Pros will do this to amateurs / fish. First get off the table. Second need to look them up with some hands good enough to be bluff catchers.

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