Poker Strategy - Players who bet the flop and check the turn
Many players routinely bet the flop with a good hand, but will virtually always check the turn. They do this because they don't want to be raised by someone on the turn or river (when the bets are doubled). This habit is prevalent in the lower limit games. However, if you play mid-limit games, this flaw is not nearly as common. In any case, it is worth considering, as some mid limit and high limit tables attract a few players with this flaw.
Let's say you carefully observe your opponent and you notice this behaviour pattern: This opponent has A-10 and the flop is A-8-4. This opponent bets the flop and two people call. On the turn, a 3 falls and this opponent then checks. When someone bets, he simply calls the turn. On the river, he also checks and calls. This opponent appears to be a "weak" or "weak tight" player on the basis of this single observation.
Now lock on to this player and watch how he plays the same situation in future hands. If this behavioural pattern continues, it's time to implement a strategy to exploit his weakness.
Keep in mind the motivation for this behaviour. If he is weak and tight'ish, he is not betting the flop and checking the turn simply because he's given up on a bluff or thinks he has been outdrawn on the turn. He is simply afraid of being raised on the turn or river when the bets are doubled. As such, he simply checks with the intention of calling all the way to the showdown. It's usually that simple.
How to play against this sort of opponent
There are two strong changes you can implement into your game plan based on the observations of an opponent with this flaw.
First, you can call with more marginal cards preflop and on the flop when you are in a late position and he is sitting within two or three seats of your right. For example, if you have 6-7 off-suit in a late position, you should probably not play this hand unless a big multi-way pot is brewing. However, if it is a medium size pot (approximately three or opponents) and this opponent calls preflop, you may want to call. If you hit any sort of draw on the flop, there is a good chance that this opponent will give you a free card on the turn. This is why you can play more drawing hands against this sort of opponent, even if your draw is not stunning.
For example, let's say that there are five callers (including yourself and this opponent) before the flop and you have 6-7 off-suit. The flop is K-8-4 and it's checked to this opponent. He bets. As a result, you must call one small bet to win the six small bets in the pot. Additionally, one or two other opponents may call behind you on the flop. But let's say you are only getting pot odds of 6-1 on the flop. Should you call?
The chances of hitting a 5 on the turn or river are approximately 5-1. However, if you fail to hit the five on the turn, you will probably have to fold, even if you called the flop. Your odds of hitting a 5 on the river are 10-1 against and you probably won't be getting those sorts of pot odds on the turn. So in reality, you are only calling on the flop to see if you can spike a 5 on the turn, since you won't continue to the river if you miss. Therefore, the only odds of significance are the odds against hitting a 5 on the turn only. Since you are approximately 10-1 against hitting a 5 on the turn card, you are not really getting the correct price to call on the flop.
However, if you know that your opponent will bet the flop, then check the turn and give you a free card, you should call the flop by all means. The odds of hitting a 5 on either the turn or river are approximately 5-1 and since you will be getting a look at both cards for the price of a call on the flop, you can take those 5-1 odds because you are getting 6-1 from the pot, not to mention the large implied odds on offer and the possibility that some other early position opponents will call the flop behind you thereby increasing your pot odds.
This approach comes with three caveats based on the same reasoning. First, if this particular opponent bets again on the turn, you must fold. If it seems that this opponent is unreliable, or becomes unreliable, at automatically "betting the flop then checking the turn" you must abandon this strategy.
Second, if another player at the table picks up on this opponent's behavioural pattern as you have and starts messing up your plan by putting in fancy check-raises on the flop and betting our of position on the turn, stay away. Wait for the right time. This fancy player may soften up this opponent further, resulting in more free cards in subsequent pots.
Third, if this opponent is in an early position, this strategy won't be as effective. If he bets the flop and checks the turn, middle and late position players between you and him are probably going to bet the turn more often which disrupts your free card strategy.
Aside from the free card aspect of this sort of opponent, you should also never try to bluff or semi-bluff him on the turn. In my opinion and experience, I have won much more money from players giving me free cards (when they shouldn't) than I have won by semi-bluffing. This comes back to the motivation for his behaviour: he has a good hand but checks the turn to avoid being raised when the bets are doubled. Therefore, he intends to call to the showdown and probably has a good enough hand to do so. Don't bluff a caller.
When to use this approach
Finally, you should use this bet the flop and check the turn strategy yourself when you are heads-up against a maniac with a reasonably good hand. Let's you have A-Q. The maniac raises, you call and it's heads up. The flop is A-8-6. If you bet here (which I think you should), he will probably raise in which case, you should simply check and call the turn and river. This way, you avoid losing big bets when you are genuinely behind and avoid being moved off the winning hand.
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