Stop supporting the big bet in hold’em

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The evolution of hold’em has gone something like this: the continuation-bet after the flop, the large bet preflop from the button, and the large bet preflop from middle position or in the cutoff or hijack positions. Then there was the super aggressive raise preflop to five or six times the big blind, which has now become the min-raise of two or three times the big blind. All of which translate into an aggressive betting style.

Texas Hold’em is much more than betting. The truest tell of all is a betting pattern. Betting patterns no longer ensure what they’re intended to represent. The large aggressive over-the-top move has taken cards out of hands and inserted simple aggression. Why not get back to basics, where the best hand wins?

Regardless of your pocket cards, you’ll only hit the flop 30 percent of the time. After the flop, your hand is 71 percent complete.

Understanding these percentages should define the table bully or super aggressive players’ strategy in a nutshell. They can’t have big hands more than a third of the time; therefore their big bets are usually simple aggressive pressure moves designed to take down the pot quickly and establish big chip stacks to further run over the table.
These styles have taken patience out of hold’em. Players play hands that reward aggressive styles preflop, which are seldom defendable postflop.

My suggestion is to go back to basics. Only play hands preflop when in position and enter pots as cheaply as possible. Avoid poor hands that seldom improve postflop. Why give an aggressive player more ammunition to continue his style of play?

With big hands preflop, push the hell out of them, which punishes the aggressive players and relieves them of their chips. They will seldom be able to play back at you.

Slow-play big hands postflop when you’re in and out of position. The aggressive player surely will bet the turn after a check on the flop. Make them realize their bets have no value against you.

Patience must become more of your game, resist playing average hands out of position and push all big hands in and out of position preflop and postflop. Give aggressive players and table bullies a dose of their own medicine. I promise you they won’t like it.

Players will have big hands less than 30 percent of the time. When you have one, find the way to get as many of your chips into the pot and run over all aggressive players. The best hand always wins when played properly.

— Antonio Pinzari has been playing professionally since the ’70s. He’s the creator of Poker 23 and Wild Tallahassee Poker, which you can learn more about at WildTallahasseePoker.com.