Expectation And Hourly Rate The Fundamental Theorem Of Poker The Ante Structure Pot Odds Effective Odds Implied Odds and Reverse Implied Odds The Value of Deception Win the Big Pots Right Away The Free Card The Semi-Bluff Defense Against the Semi-Bluff Raising Check-Raising Slowplaying Loose and Tight Play Position Bluffing Game Theory and Bluffing Inducing and Stopping Bluffs Hands-Up On The End Reading Hands The Psychology of Poker Analysis at the Table Evaluating the Game


As we showed in the last chapter, it is often important to disguise your big hands so that your opponents don ’t know what you have because you want to get as much value for them as you can.

However, there is one special application of the Fundamental Theorem of Poker, which we hinted at: As a pot gets larger and larger, you nearly always want to win it instantly.

Naturally you would like your opponent to play incorrectly and throw away the best hand. But even when your hand is the best hand, you generally prefer your opponent to fold rather than call when the pot is larger.

The reason is that when you bet in a limit game and the pot is large, your opponent’s hand, though second best, is  rarely so much of an underdog that he is not getting good enough odds to chase you.

Hence, his calling you with good pot odds is a profitable play for him in the long run. Since he is correct to take the  odds, you do not gain when he calls.

You gain only when he flds and turns down those odds. When he calls, you lose even if you happen to win that  particular pot for over the long run his call has positive expectation. It will end up costing you money.


At the same time, it would be incorrect not to bet at all with the best poker hand, even though you were 100 percent certain your opponent would make the correct play and call.

By not betting, you are giving your oponent a free chance to make the best hand.  Put another way, you are giving him infinite odds.

Let’s say the odds are 5-to-1 against your opponent making a hand that beats yours. By betting $20 into a $150 pot, you are offering that player 8½-to-1 odds ($170-to-$20), and so he is correct to call the $20.

But by betting nothing, you are offering him infinite odds, in that he has to call zero dollars for the chance to win  $150.

Therefore, when the pot is large even though you are offering your opponent favorable odds – it is always correct to bet with the best hand. The opponent’s odds are not so favorable as they would be if you didn ’t at all.

Furthermore, there is always the outside chance he might give up and fold. (See the next chapter for an extensive discussion on the free card.)

In no-limit and pot-limit games it is easier to win the big pots right away because you have the luxury of being able to bet almost any amount.

So you can choose what odds to give your opponent. For example, with a $150 pot in pot-limit game and your  opponent a 5-to-1 underdog, betting the maximum $150 allows you to offer your opponent 2-to-1 odds (4300 to $150) on a 5-to-1 shot.

IF your opponent calls, he is taking the worst of it, and you are not unhappy with the call. Whenever possible, then,  with the best hand, bet an amount larger enough so that by calling, your opponent is not making the correct play.

Furthermore, in no-limit and pot-limit games, you must be careful, as we saw in Chapter Seven, to bet  a sufficiently  larger amount so that your opponent is not getting sufficiently good implied odds to make a call correct.

By definition, in limit game you are not free to bet whatever you want, and when the pot gets larger, it’s hard to make a player fold.

However, unless you have the pure nuts, you should give your opponent every opportunity to fold and make it as expensive as you can for him to call, even when by calling he is still getting favorable poker odds.

Betting (or Raising) to Drive Opponents out

Delaying One Round to drive Opponents out