Stealing Pots – Advanced Strategies
Stealing a hand in poker needs to work a fair amount to be profitable. When bluffing, 3bets, 4bets, over pot bets etc. generally need to work (that is get your opponent to fold) more than half the time to be profitable. If these bets will work is down to your interpretation of your opponents range and how he will play it. Below I’ll show you some +++EV, low risk strategies that will have you stealing the blinds, stealing on the Flop and evaluating your stealing opportunities with ease! In my concept I call APS – Advanced Pot Stealing I am going to show some situations where you don’t even need to look at your cards. All that’s required is hawk-like attention from you. Let’s dig in…
The Math Behind Stealing Pots In Poker
Pot stealing is a whole risk (your bet) vs the reward (the pot) situation. So if its unopened to you on the BTN with 76s and you put in 2.5bb to win the pot, you are risking that 2.5bb to win the current 1.5bb (the blinds combined) pot. So it looks like this:
x/x+y or 2.5 / (2.5+1.5) 4 = 0.625 for 62.5%. Your bet needs to be successful greater than 62.5% of the time to make you a long term profit. Of course you can be called and still win the pot later, but In essence, knowing the %’s required will help you decide whether or not to steal when you hold a hand such as T5o rather than a hand like 76s that can hit many Flops with equity. The bigger the bet, the more it has to work to make you money. So how often and when should when steal so wide?
ATC – Any two cards
There are some spots in Holdem where stealing with any-two cards will show a profit. APS – Any Two Cards.
Ex1: BTN steal vs BB and SB
The BTN vs blinds stand-off is very common. You should be using the stats ‘BB fold to BTN steal’ and ‘SB fold to BTN steal’ if not in your HUD, at least in a pop up. We know stealing here requires it to work > 62.5% BUT there’s 2 guys in the pot in this situation so I like a larger fold % to compensate. I would say if both are folding > 80% to a BTN steal (and you will be surprised to find a lot of these multi-tabling nits around) I would steal with ATC.
Ex2: BB fold vs SB steal
Here’s a much simpler scenario where you can construct a whole range of hands to use with a simple ‘BB fold vs SB steal’ stat. Again a steal from the SB needs to work >62.5%. If you see a ‘BB fold vs SB steal’ stat that’s 70%+ I’d just use ATC! For numbers lower than that you need to adjust your ranges. To make the ranges easier to remember I just use my BTN and CO opening ranges.
BB fold vs SB steal 60-70% – use your standard BTN range
BB fold vs SB steal 50-60% – use your standard CO range… and so on.
For other ATC situations just figure out the breakeven % using the above formula and shoot for a higher number to get your ATC bets comfortably in the green.
The Delayed Double Barrel Bluff
Some guys still auto cbet almost every board for lack of a better option. I still see to this day 80-90% cbets that have no hope of being profitable. Some guys bet more out of position than in position which is just backwards given we know the most profitable poker is played in position! You don’t have to cbet every board and to clarify, just because you don’t cbet, it doesn’t mean you gave up on the pot. They’ll be certain board textures where I was planning on giving up, but my opponents actions opened up an opportunity for me: APS – The Delayed Double Barrel.
Ex: OOP as PFR vs standard 22/18 regular
I opened A♦K♠ UTG, the CO calls and everyone else folds. The Flop is J♦9♠5♠ and I notice my crafty opponent folds to a cbet IP 45%, so a cbet from me here is fruitless with just overs. So I check, but he checks back on board that’s good for his range to bet. Now if he had AJ, J9, slow-played over pair or a set here, he bets 9/10 times on this board that can get ugly rather quickly. With Draws and air I expect this reg to bet too, but he didn’t. So what can we put him on? If you let this hand check down you will see hands like 77, A9, 56s, 22 etc. very often.
That’s why this is a great spot to just delay cbet Turn and River – a delayed dub . An opponent with a big hand bets the Flop when checked to here but that didn’t happen, so we are just left with mediocre hands that can’t face the heat of big Turn and River bets whatever the board runout. What do we rep you might ask? Well we did raise UTG so we could have easily being going for a check-raise on the Flop. And I think when you want to put a lot of money in from UTG at any point people generally fear the worst, I know I do!
Betting While Planning To 2 Barrel or 3Barrel If Necessary
Most of the time when we cbet a dry or whiffed Flop and don’t improve on the Turn we are giving up and hoping for the best. But when that Turn is a Q,K or A (sometimes a J if the board is low) that changes my plan a lot. APS – betting with further intentions.
Ex: You open 33 from the CO and go heads up with the regular-looking BB to the 9♦6♥4♠ Flop. You cbet this dry board and get quickly called. If the Turn is a 2♣ you’d probably just give up and hope he checks down a missed draw like 78 or 75s. But If the Turn is the afore mentioned Q, K or A I bet Turn and River almost every time. Us holding 33 here is fairly useless being 4th pair, even 5th pair by the River.
So unless you are unlucky enough for him to have 2 paired the scare card Turn with A4s or similar then you will get folds by the River an astronomical amount of the time here. Think how you feel in the BB when you hold 67, 88, 9x or TT, JJ here when the Turn is a Q,K or A. Hating life aren’t we? But guys will always call that Turn bet in the hope the River bet is not coming… which it is : ). To clarify, when the Turn is a scare card and your likelihood of winning at showdown is slim, make sure you bet Turn AND River to take down the pot.
Apply these concepts with some thought and they work a very high percentage of the time – making them pretty low risk and highly +EV. I’d love to hear your own Advanced Pot Stealing techniques or article ideas you’d like to see written about!