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Overcoming “Fear of Betting”: Matt Affleck on Why Players Should Bluff and Value Bet More

Matt Affleck

Poker pro Matt Affleck is no stranger to success at the World Series of Poker and elsewhere on the tournament circuit, having amassed nearly $1.45 million in tourney cashes with a little under half that amount coming at the WSOP.

Among Affleck’s 17 WSOP cashes — including one so far this summer in Event #20: $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em — are a couple of memorable deep runs in the Main Event where he finished 80th in 2009, then 15th in 2010.

Affleck is one of the many contributors to the newly-released poker strategy book Jonathan Little’s Excelling at No-Limit Texas Hold’em. In a chapter titled “Tournament Strategies,” Affleck addresses a number of subjects including how (in general) most poker players play each postflop street progressively worse, the “fear of betting” and how it tends to inhibit a lot of players in detrimental ways, and how to assess opponents’ playing styles and respond accordingly.

Affleck’s chapter also provides concrete advice about three-betting and “leveraging” or using a larger stack to pressure short stacks with the threat of elimination. Affleck additionally covers ideas regarding stack sizes and the importance of considering antes when judging them (evoking Dan Harrington’s “M” concept), preserving one’s own tournament life, and more.

This week our Sarah Herring caught up with Affleck in the halls of the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino to talk further about some of the ideas discussed in his chapter.

After starting out explaining why the early levels in a tournament can provide great opportunities for picking up chips, Affleck addresses in particular that “fear of betting” idea and how players often miss chances to value bet and bluff, in large part because of their lack of comfort with postflop strategy, especially on the turn and river. Take a look:

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