This has been under discussion recently in a number of threads, and I'd like to write my ideas about this down so that its clearer to me and so I can get some feedback on it. Basically, I want to examine if we should prefer betting on the turn vs. the river with two types of hands: middling made hands that you would like to value bet once more with, and bluffs (obviously by bluffs I mean air that you have decided you would like to bluff with. I'm not getting into when you should bluff, assume that decision has been made). Then I'd like to see how Shania fits into all of this. To keep it simple, everything I discuss assumes Hero is the preflop raiser from the CO after it was folded to him, and villain called from the BB. Both have slightly deep 150bb stacks. I only do this so we have room to manoeuvre, the deepness of the stacks won't be much of an issue since I am mostly discussing times when villain check/calls us down. The postflop action was that Hero continuation bet on a dry board with one face card and two unconnected low cards and got called by villain. Villain then checked a blank turn. We can assume that villain likely has a weakish made hand. Not always, of course, but the majority of the time. I know that that is kind of vague, but I'd prefer to keep it abstract. Now lets look at our turn options.
If we are bluffing, is it better to bet the turn or to check it? We do not need to consider the case where villain is going for a CR because if he is, we should lose about the same amount of money overall. Actually, we might save some money from bluffing if we checked the turn and villain bet out on the river, but on such a dry board villain will often go for a CR again on river if he missed it on the turn, and so I don't consider our EV much different between a turn bet and a river bet if villain wanted to CR us. So I will consider only those times where villain is simply check/calling us down with a weak made hand.
I think that in this case, it is better to bluff on the turn than the river. Why? Well, it is easier for villain to call the river imo. It is harder for villain to call the turn than the river with a weakish made hand because villain knows that by calling here, he basically turns his hand faceup as a weakish made hand. This makes him extremely vulnerable to thin value bets on the river as well as to river bluffs, things he doesn't have to worry about if he is just calling a river bet. The other factor is that if we have the nuts we are almost always betting the turn. That involves shania though, we will get into that later. Essentially all I've said here is that it is harder to call 1 bet on the turn than 1 bet on the river (if the turn was checked), so I think bluffing the turn is more effective.
What about your middling made hands? Well, the opposite of the bluff applies, in that you want it to be easy for villain to call. So for the above mentioned reasons, you would prefer to check the turn and bet the river. By doing so we lose the ability to multistreet bet; luckily, with this type of hand we don't want to do that anyways, so we lose nothing. An important consideration, though, is that by checking the turn we are less likely to be CRed off the best hand. I say less likely instead of impossible because if villain decent then he should often go for a CR on river (given the dry board) if he missed it on the turn. However, even if this is true, it is harder for us to call a turn CR than a river CR for, once again, the reasons mentioned above; we don't have to worry about another street. So even when considering being CRed we prefer to bet the river with this type of hand.
Anyways, I feel that it is better to bluff the turn than the river, and better to bet your middling made hands on the river than the turn, all based on how easy it is for villain to call. Now I want to examine Shania here, which on such a drawless board means we only have to consider one more thing; the nuts. By this I mean hands that we are happy to bet all 3 streets with, assuming villain keeps checking to us. Obviously this is different than the best hand possible, in that we might not want to get our stack in with the nuts so described if we get CRed on the turn. Anyways, thats the term I'm using. It should be obvious that we prefer to bet the nuts on the turn than to check it. While the arguments of being easier for villain to call on the river than the turn still apply, the value of the ability to mutistreet bet is enormous with this kind of hand and outweighs other considerations. So the nuts, like a bluff, should be betting the turn.
So if the above assumptions are true, we can say that it is optimal to bluff and bet the nuts on the turn, and to valuebet middling hands on the river. But the problem, obviously, is that villains adapt. Now we have to ask, how do we balance this out? Or perhaps most importantly, should we balance this out? That is my main question here, the reason I took the time to write all this down. If we don't balance this, is it exploitable, and to what degree? I will examine checking the nuts behind on the turn later, because we should not be doing that too often, as we would lose too much value. In terms of balancing I want to first consider bluffing more on the river instead of the turn (not talking about 3 barreling here), and/or betting weakish made hands on the turn for value and then checking behind on the river. So mixing up the 'optimal' betting pattern for bluffs and middling hands.
Lets examine the exploitablility of only betting middling hands on the river and never on the turn. What can villan do to us if we bet that way? Well, he would then correctly recognise the turn bet as a nuts or air situation. Thus he can correctly assume that all of his middling made hands are of equal value in that situation. Ok, but does that actually give him an equity edge? If we mix it up and bet some of our own middling hands on the turn, then it becomes correct for him to call down with only the stronger part of his range. Fine, by balancing our game we dictated the villain's actions and forced him to do something. But where is the gained equity? I can't find it. If, for example, we are betting 'optimally' without balance, and it is correct for villain to call say X% of the time on the turn, then he can arbitrarily choose what hands will make up this X%. If, however, we mix it up, the villain will be forced to make up his X% from the top part of his range. He cannot just randomly choose when to call down because it is not a nut-or-air situation, so he has to wait for certain stronger hands. But he is still calling the theoretically correct X%, right? (the top X% of his range) So we aren't gaining any real equity. Thus I don't see the point to balancing our game by betting middling made hands on the turn.
Now I want to examine balancing our game by sometimes checking the turn and bluffing the river, instead of the 'optimal' way. What does this accomplish? Well, say we bet in an 'optimal' pattern. Then villain knows almost exactly what kind of hand we have when we check the turn and bet the river, because we almost never have the nuts and aren't bluffing here. I keep saying 'almost' because there will be those times when the river improves our hand, and we are in fact betting a very strong hand on the river after checking the turn. This only happens a fairly small percent of the time though, and so I will ignore it.
Anyways, by not mixing up our game on the river, we have have turned our hand face up as a valuebet once we bet the river. This allows a villain who knows what your valuebetting range is to play optimally. However, if you throw in some bluffs, all you have to do is adjust your bluffing % (even while keeping a constant valuebetting hand range) in order to make profit off your opponent. I can't tell you what that % is, of course that depends on the game/villain, but I think we do need to bluff the river sometimes or else villain will simply play perfect poker. Once we got here, we have to bluff sometimes for the exact same reason we have to bluff sometimes in spots where we have the nuts; we are valuebetting and don't want villain to play perfectly, simple as that.
The real problem with this 'optimal' betting pattern seems to be that our hand is faceup as air/middling hand once we check the turn, and should we choose to bet the river, it is faceup as a middling hand. Now the usually downside to turning your hand faceup applies; it is easy for villain to valuebet thinly against you, and you are vulnerable to bluffs. However, compare this to a situation when your hand is faceup by check/calling the flop and checking the turn OOP. Here the downside to turning your hand faceup is much more extreme; villain has 2 streets to bluff or valuebet you. In this spot, he has only 1. That's a very big difference. So while there are obvious downsides to turning your hand faceup, it is much less of a problem if you do it on the river than on the turn. And of course, the only option you have in terms of not turning your hand faceup is to check the nuts on the turn sometimes. So you have to ask, is it worth it to lose all that value of multistreet betting with the nuts in order to keep your hand a mystery on the river? I think you have to balance this spot much less than you would in other situations on poker, where you turn your hand faceup on eariler streets, simply because it hurts you much less here.
Anyways, I hope that wasn't too rambling, and am very interested to hear your thoughts on this. This isn't so much a post intending to educate as it is my looking for comments and criticism on my thoughts, because this is how I see it and want to know that I am not making some wrong base assumption that is hurting me without my knowing it. I also know that there are a lot more Shania issues that I haven't touched, so please feel free to point them out. Anyways, I won't be able to respond right away as I'll be away most of teh day but I'll check back in later.
If he knows that we're valuebetting on the end, that's where he can profitably C/R bluff. Be wary of it, though not used too often between 3-6 and 5-10 I feel, it become a huge weapon. It's been posted before; any hand that can check behind turn with position (or even just call a turn bet) when draws miss, should not be able to withstand a river C/R in theory (there are some Samo posts about this, there is currently one in HSNL with a hand with krantz). This is where, in accordance with shania, we should probably check behind the nuts on the turn (a small portion of the time, but nevertheless enough) IMO.
Another thing that may apply: You should bet the turn with a medium strength made hand (second pair, sometimes even AK high) on draw heavy boards on occasion, simply because you should be able to beat any draws that can call, and draws should call a greater amount than medium strength made hands (since we always bet the nuts on the turn- this is a great spot to merge them).
Also, I recently wrote a post about something like this, which you probably read, but it was not well recieved. I think what you said in the first few paragraphs was very similar to what I was saying: it's a hell of a lot easier to get called for value on the river because they know they aren't facing any more streets of betting.
I've been talking about this for a while, and I really think this is a key as players move up to and through 5-10 NL. It become paramount to merge your hand strengths with your oppponents ranges. For example, we should not always say "okay, we've got the nuts here or a very strong hand on the turn and therefore we're going to bet it, but check behind one pair hands because, hey, we don't want to play a big pot with a one pair hand." That is just fundamentally incorrect at some levels, and the higher you go, the more exploitable it will be. In these spots, I feel like we can say "opponents range is x,y,z... we can't ONLY be betting hands that beat his entire range on the turn, we need to be betting hands that beat x and y at times." So although AJ on a A 6 4 9 board can only beat smaller aces (and some kind of draws), we should choose to bet it against some opponents because it beats the majority of his range. So though it BARELY beats the majority of his range, if we think he'd 3-bet with AK and AQ, we can pound the turn because we think his hand is specifically a smaller AXs type of hand calling down light, or a draw. If we get CR'ed perhaps we can fold, but we aren't really discussing that.
Anyways, the I think I missed some points I wanted to make, but the one I really wanted to stress was merging your range and his range. It basically means thin value bets, except it applies to the turn in some cases too. Thoughts and comments apprectiated.
Aejones, I did read your thread and responded in it. I thought at the time that your reasoning was off even though your conclusions were close to right, because I didn't agree with some of the example hands you posted. I might have just misunderstood what you were trying to say though. Anyways, I agree that you should be betting the turn sometimes with medium hands on drawy boards. It gets alot more complicated with draws out there, which I why I kept the board dry in my example, but your reasoning makes sense to me.
Quote: If he knows that we're valuebetting on the end, that's where he can profitably C/R bluff. Be wary of it, though not used too often between 3-6 and 5-10 I feel, it become a huge weapon. It's been posted before; any hand that can check behind turn with position (or even just call a turn bet) when draws miss, should not be able to withstand a river C/R in theory (there are some Samo posts about this, there is currently one in HSNL with a hand with krantz). This is where, in accordance with shania, we should probably check behind the nuts on the turn (a small portion of the time, but nevertheless enough) IMO.
I disagree with you here. The first smaller thing is that just calling in position on the turn is often not a show of weakness, that it is waaay more likely villain has a big hand than if he had simply checked the turn behind. So I don't think Krantz's hand is a good example of that. But more importantly, I don't think that we need to check behind the nuts on the turn at all in order to counter our vulnerablility to CR bluffs on the river. We can simply call down some % of the time with our medium hands. While it would certainly be easier to counter CR bluffs on the river if we had very big hands there on occaision, I don't think you need to give up the value of betting your big hands on the turn. It is difficult to judge how often to call of course, but you can snap off bluffs with a medium hand as well as with the nuts. I really think this turns your 'nuts' hands into bluff catchers, in a spot where you very often have a perfectly good bluff catcher (a middling hand) anyways.
I've always figured that a big hand is raising by the turn. I can't really think of too many instances when a player smooth called with a big hand on the turn honestly. I have about 50k hands at 5-10, but only about 5k in the last few months. I've got about 40k at 3-6, over 100k at 2-4. I mean in the example of Krantz's hand, If Villain in that hand leads the turn, how often is Krantz smooth calling with the nut flush? I'm certain that it's feasible, and he proved possible by cold calling two streets with a set, but it just seems so rarely that a standard TAG isn't raising the nuts, or a monster, by the turn.
Interesting post. One thing I think you left out is making reverse blocking bets on the turn in position with weak made hands. By betting 1/2-pot or so in position on the turn you are effectively setting the price of showdown (unless he's smart, calls, and makes a big donkbet into you on the river).
Basically when I'm bluffing, my opponents know I'm capable of going all the way with it so I want to bet the turn and have the threat of the third barrel at my disposal.
Phil, my point is that I don't think you have to check your big hands on the turn for balance (in the example given). And if you don't have to, surely there's more value in betting them on 3 streets than checking the turn.