[Note: I started writing this up, and then got busy. It's still probably too long-winded for many people to actually read it, but I thought the EV calculations in the middle were pretty enlightening. Cliff's notes: bet more]
Quote: When you flop a monster the first thing you should do is look at stack sizes and figure out what size bets on each street gets everything in the middle.
I've thought about this before, and I think about it sometimes during the hands, but not enough. I wrote this up on the fly, and hadn't really thought so explicitly about this stuff before, so please give me some feedback. The basic idea is that, when we flop a monster, we want to think about lines that will get as much of our stack in the middle as possible. Ideally, if there's money left to bet on the river, we want the pot to be bigger than our stack. The bigger the pot is, the easier it is for the villain to make a crying call.
Let's think about two standard lines:
One villain, normal stacks, hero raises in position pre-flop I play a lot of hands that are effectively like this.
To make the numbers easy, let's say it's $100NL, 6-max and this happens:
One bet per street, hero flops the nuts and wants to get all the money in. The two hands that made me think about this were hands where Hero had Ace-rag suited and flopped the nut flush. What are the lines? If there's only one bet per street, I think the standard 2+2 lines are pot-it-all-the-way-baby and 3/4-on-the-flop-2/3-on-the-turn.
pot-pot gives us $30 in the pot and $85 in our stack on the turn and $90 in the pot, $55 in our stack when we see the river, and we're asking villain to put in a little more than 1/2-pot on the river.
3/4-pot, 2/3-pot has us betting $7.50 on the flop, seeing the turn with $25 in the pot and $87.50 in our stacks, betting $17 on the turn and ending up at the river with $70 in our stack and $60 in the pot.
How much are they worth So, there's a *huge* difference between those two lines. Let's say, for instance, that villain has donk-certified calling hand against you, like TPTK. He'll probably call reasonable-sized bets, but be less likely to call an overbet. Let's see how he stacks up (ha!!!) against the two lines.
Against the 3/4,2/3 line, let's say he'll always call the flop, call the turn 80% of the time, but only call the river overbet 50% of the time. We'll analyze things from the flop on. Then, our EV is
1.0*(10 + 7.5) + 0.8*(17 + 0.5*(70)) = $59.
For the pot-pot line, let's say he'll always call the flop. Similarly, he'll always call the river if he gets there because there's so much money in the pot. What's our EV if he'll fold the turn more often, though? Let's say he folds the turn a lot, like 50% of the time. Then our EV is
1.0*(10 + 10) + 0.5*(30 + 55) = $62.5.
It turns out that he only has to call 46% of the time on the turn for the lines to have the same EV. What if he's a more typical calling-station kind of guy and calls more like 70% of the time on the turn? Then our EV is $80. That's 1/3 more money than we were making with the smaller bets. Intuitively, you can see that the villain will have to be a *lot* more likely to fold to the pot-pot line before we start using the 3/4,2/3 line. In practice, this means that I'm much more likely to go pot-pot on scary boards, either because I have the scary hand, or because I don't want villains drawing to it.
So, unless you think that villain is savvy enough to make some real adjustments based on the various lines you take, you should be betting quite a bit when you have a great hand. The key is thinking ahead on the early streets. We want to set things up so that, when the villain decides he'll call a 1/2-pot bet on the river, that 1/2-pot bet is a lot of money. Pots grow exponentially, so betting just a little more early on can make a big difference later on.
With shorter stacks, you won't be able to make sizeable bets on all streets. As stacks get deeper, this concept gets more important. With big hands, I usually try to squeeze out as much value as I possibly can on the early streets, because it makes it that much easier to get more value on the later streets.
Just so that you don't have to work it out on the fly, if there's $10 in the pot on the flop, pot-pot-pot bets will be bets of $10, $30 and $90, and we'll get about $130 of your stack in. That is, if it's going to go pot-pot-pot, you can get 13x the pre-flop money in.
If it's going to go pot-pot-1/2pot, the bets will be $10, $30, $45, and we'll get $85 in, so you can get 8.5x the pre-flop money in.
If it's going to go 3/4, 2/3, 1/2, the bets will be $7.5, $17, $30 and we'll get $54 in, so you can get about 5x the pre-flop money in that way.
So, if we have full stacks and want to get it in, 3/4, 2/3, 1/2 isn't good enough. Why am I focusing on smaller bets on the river? Well, it's quite possible that, in situations like this, he'll have an OK hand with a draw that missed on the river. I want most of the money in before then so that he can make a crying call.
More than one bet per street
When we flop a monster, we can run into a lot of situations where the villain has a good draw. In that situation, it's likely that we can get more than one bet in per street. Then again, those extra bets are usually on the flop.
A lot of that transfers pretty easily when you start thinking about b3b, cr, etc. The key is to think "if I bet this much, the pot will be that much on the next street and the stack sizes will be blah blah."
If there's $10 in the pot, and it goes bet-raise on the flop, you might get $20 in on the flop. If it goes pot-call, pot-call after that, you'll put in $50 on the turn and $150 on the river, getting $220 of your stack in. So, when you're playing against someone who has a 2x stack, it's important to raise early on to set things up to get the stacks in later on. (We'll often want to bet less on the river, though).
Hmmn .. that sounds like the hand from the post I referred to earlier:
So, hero ends up with $30 in his stack and $20 in the pot, making it pretty hard to get the rest in. In this specific case, there was some history, and villain was pretty likely to think he was getting pushed around, so a push from the hero got a stubborn call. Just for fun, though, let's see how this would have played out with bigger bets:
If hero makes about a pot-sized raise on the flop, it will look like
Flop: ($2.10) 9, Q, T (2 players) BB bets $1, Hero raises to $4, BB calls $3.