The Fundamental theorem of Poker


Since it is correct for your opponent to call when he is getting sufficient pot odds, you can sometimes make an opponent fold incorrectly by showing more strength than you actually have on an early betting round.

You are fairly sure he has kings. You now proceed to make a pair of 6s on board, and you bet. Your opponent will almost certainly fold a pair of kings since he is afraid you have made aces up.

Some people might say, "Well, wait a second. Why don't I want my opponent to call as long as his pair of kings is worse than my two small pair?" The answer is that if there are cards to come and your opponent is getting proper odds, you do better to win the pot right there. A pair of kings versus two smaller pair needs very short odds to justify a call. Since your opponent would have been correct to call, you gain when you make him fold.

In razz, a seven-card stud lowball game in which the lowest hand wins, we can see another example of showing more strength than you have to make an opponent fold incorrectly.
If you think your opponent has a four-card 8 - and you have a pair and only a four-card 8-7 - it is important to bet, even though you know you will be called. The bet gains you some extra equity, should you happen to catch a little card on sixth street, giving you an 8-7 low. If your opponent catches a big card or a pair, still having a draw to a better 8 than yours, he will fold, since your previous bet indicated you had an 8 made already. The little card you've now caught suggests you have made a 71ow, which makes your opponent think he is drawing dead - that is, drawing with no chance of winning.

Notice that once again you want your opponent to fold even though you have the best hand. You have an 8,7 low and are drawing to a 7, while all your opponent has is a draw to a better 8. However, you gain by his folding because, had he known you had only an 8,7, he would be getting proper odds to call in the hope of drawing out on you. By not calling he made a mistake, and you have gained. (You gain even more when that sixth street card makes you two pair, and your opponent folds the best hand.)

Just as you are rooting for an opponent to fold when he is getting sufficient pot odds, you are rooting for him to call when he is getting insufficient pot odds. Thus, it is frequently correct to play a strong hand weakly on an early round - the converse of your plays in the previous two examples - so that your opponent will make a bad call when you do improve.

A good play against some people with this hand would be to check and just call if your opponent bets. Many players would now put you on a pair or a bad card in the hole. If you do catch a 4, 5 or 7 on board, giving you a 6 or 7 low, your opponent will probably still call, even if he is drawing dead, because your earlier play along with his pot odds make him think it's worth a call. This is exactly what you are hoping for. Your deceptive play early has caused your opponent to make an incorrect play on a later round.

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