Tip 42
Toss up hand

There are several good reasons why betting is correct if you feel you have about a 50 percent chance of holding the best hand poker .  Here are three.

  1. There is a small chance that an opponent might fold the best hand.  This won’t happen very often, but you gain the pot when it does.  You will never win a pot this way if you check.
  2. You might bet a toss-up hand and get a call from a slightly worse hand.  Had you checked, it is unlikely that your opponent would have bet his hand.  However, he will probably call you.  This is another situation in which you can win a bet on the river by wagering that you could not gain by checking.
  3. Other times, your opponent has you edged in the hand.  However, his hand ism’t exactly a monster, and  he may believe that he is in jeopardy if you bet.  For this reason, he is unlikely to raise, but will call.  You lose one bet those times you bet the losing hand on the river.  If you check, though, this same opponent would likely bet his hand.  Since you have a toss-up hand, you call, costing you the same single bet that you would lose by betting the hand yourself.  That is, it does’t matter whether you check or bet in this situation, because you always lose exactly one bet.

Of the three possibilities, you gain by betting in two of them, and break even in the other.  Overall, then, you are better off betting when first to act on the river if you estimate your chances of winning the pot at around 50 percent.  You often bet losing hands by employing this strategy but you also win extra bets and even the occasional extra pot that your more timid opponents do not.  And, you can take comfort in knowing that many of those losing bets you make would often have become losing calls anyway had you opted to check.  Thus, you’re not really losing more bets than you would have by not betting your toss-up hands, and you’re profiting by all the winning bets.

Tip 43
Check with a toss up

One of the contributing factors to the definition of a toss-up hand is that one or more of your opponents either had a made hand or were drawing to beat you.  In the case of their having a made hand, it is likely that you are beaten.

When you are in last position and the action has been checked to you, it is incorrect to bet if you feel your chance of holding the best hand is only 50 percent.  The reason for this is that of the hands you can beat, a good number of them will be unable to call if you bet.  A busted straight or flush draw can’t call, so you cannot win any additional bets from them.  However, the 50 percent of the time you are beat, you can be quite certain that you will be called.  So, there is little or no value in betting.

For a bet to be correct, or at least a break-even proposition, the likelihood that you will be called by hands you can beat compared to those that are better than yours must be about equal.  This is not the case if you hold a toss-up hand, since a high percentage of the time the reason you win in those situations is that your opponents missed whatever hands they were drawing at.  Don’t bet the river for value in last position unless there is at least a 50 percent you will win the pot if you are called.  If this is not the case, then check and hope for the best.


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