The following is a guest post from the blog Becoming Poker, check it out for a lot of great poker content as well as my latest post.--Grundy
Today one of our chickens died of rather unfortunate causes. What has that got to do with poker? Well like a cloudy day it will become clear once the downpour has passed. So allow the words of this article to trickle and flow, splatter and pitter-patter through your mind and you will find the answer to why a chicken’s death has so much to do with poker and beating micro stakes cash games.
As the title ensues, one of our chickens has died. This chicken was not just any old chicken. I personally gave her the name Ginger after the chicken in the movie Chicken Run. Why did I name her after a fictional movie character? Because Ginger was our only chicken who refused to stay within the confines of the chicken run. No matter how often or how hard we tried she would always find a way to escape from the chicken run and roam free around the garden and, on occasions, through the house. All of which is much like Ginger in the movie.
Unfortunately things did not end well for our Ginger, today we found her dead after sticking her head into a possum trap, trying to eat the apple, and had unwittingly set of the trap which broke her neck.
You are probably still wondering what this has to do with poker. As some of you may have guessed I am referring to setting traps or slowplaying. Why some work and why some do not.
When setting a trap in poker there are a few main conditions that need to occur.
1. You need a very strong hand.
2. Your opponent needs a strong hand also, but one that is dominated by yours.
3. Your opponent needs to be an aggressive player.
Without these key three conditions your trap will very rarely yield the maximum benefits and will most likely not be the most profitable play for the situation because of it.
NOTE: All examples and advice is assuming that your are playing a heads-up pot and I only delve into setting the trap post flop. Whilst pre-flop traps can be set I am directing this article at post flop trapping.
Condition 1 - A strong hand
The term “strong hand” is relative to the situation. On a 7c2s8h flop a set of 8’s has a great chance of taking down the pot on the river, in this situation you have a strong hand. Whereas on a 8hAh9h board there are multiple draws and made hands that will beat you and your hand is likely beat against a TAG (tight/aggressive) player showing large amounts of aggression.
The definition of a strong hand is also relative to what type of opponent you are facing. If your opponent is TAG then TPTK (Top pair/Top kicker) is probably not going to cut it at showdown. The opposite is also true, where TPTK against a super lag donk is the best hand 75%+ of the time.
To define whether or not your hand is infect “strong” you must look at it in relation first to the board cards and secondly to the type of opponent you are up against.
Condition 2 – Your opponent needs a strong hand that you dominate
To some this may just seem that it is a luck of the draw thing. You do not get to decide what cards your opponent has so how can you tell whether he has a strong enough hand for you to trap him successfully.
This is where your hand reading skills, his actions in previous hands and the earlier streets in this hand come into play.
Effective stacks 100bb. Lets say that a TAG player who plays solid ABC poker and very rarely bets without a hand. You mad a standard 3xbb raise from late position and villain 3-bets you from the bb to 10bb. You call with your 8c8h. The flop comes down 8dAhKs. Villain leads out for a pot bet of 20bb.
At this point in the hand you must decide whether or not to slow play your hand or to fast play your hand. A major contributing factor will be whether villain has shown that he can let go oh his flopped TPTK type hands to big re-raises. For the sake of the example, we have seen villain fold AQ on an AJ3 board and show what he folded when he was face with a large re-raise after leading the flop.
Now with that information you should be able to recognize that calling to trap villain is better than raising because of his 3 betting pre-flop range(something like QQ+/AQs+).. By calling we allow villain to make another big bet on the turn with his TPTK or Top 2 pair type hand. The alternative of raising will mean that villain will fold all hands barring top 2 pair and a set. Seeing as though there are two possible sets that beat yours then you can deduct that if you raise then you will be in an effectively wa/wb situation where your raise is getting called by more hands that beat you than hands that you beat.
So by using information that you gained in the early rounds of a hand and in previous hands we can make better assumptions on villains range and on whether or not we are in a good situation to trap.
Condition 3 – Villain needs to be an aggressive player
By this I mean that you can’t trap a calling station or passive player because they simply don’t bet their hands so trapping would yield less profit than value betting your hand the whole way.
Continuing from the example I used in the condition 2 section. The turn comes a blank and villain fires out another 2/3 pot size bet of 40bb into a 60.5bb pot. Here villain has just committed himself to a showdown and your trap has worked. Shove it in, villain only has 40bb of 100bb left and is committed to calling your all-in.
Alternatively, villain hesitates on the turn and fires out a small 20bb bet. Here is where you should take your trap to the river. Villain is slowing down and will most likely fold to a raise here so call and value bet the river if villain checks or shove if he bets.
If the 3 conditions I mentioned above arise then it is most likely an ideal trapping situation and you should give your opponent enough rope to hang himself with and unleash your raise on the river by which point villain is committed to calling your all-in the majority of the times.
Good Luck with your traps! You can follow mine at http://becoming-poker.blogspot.com.