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Hello, New Poker aficionados! You may think it sounds counter-intuitive to make a smaller bet on a monotone flop but hold onto your cards because we’re about to debunk a popular poker misconception.
One of the trickiest scenarios in No Limit Texas Hold’em is when the flop reveals three cards of the same suit—a scenario we’ll call a monotone flop.
For beginners, this unique flop composition can be emotionally overwhelming. Some players, gripped by anxiety, start making oversized antes with top pairs or over-pairs, desperately trying to deter their opponents from chasing a flush. Meanwhile, others might take the ultra-cautious route and check out. While both strategies have their shortcomings, the former can be especially flawed, both in theory and practice. Here’s why.
The Myth of the Big Bet
Imagine yourself seated at a $1/$2 live poker table. If you were to eavesdrop on the “surface wisdom” swirling around, you’d hear an array of misconceptions. Many players at these stakes are not poker maestros, and some might make moves we’d gladly pay to witness.
Among the most popular misconceptions is the belief that “AK is a treacherous hand to play pre-flop”. But another, less harmful yet still misinformed view is that “when all flop cards are diamonds, you need to bet huge since someone could be chasing a flush.”
The term ‘chasing a flush’ is often uttered with a mix of prejudice and emotion, especially at a $1/$2 table. Players who advocate for a large ante with A♥ A♣ on an 8♦ 6♦ 4♦ flop fall prey to tunnel vision. They only consider two scenarios:
- They currently have the best hand.
- One or more opponents have a diamond.
Yet, when faced with such a flop against two opponents, it’s quite unlikely both conditions hold true.
Why Small Bets Make Theoretical Sense
Remember, the big ante strategy really shines only when your opponent has exactly one diamond and you currently possess the best hand. In any other scenario, a smaller bet might prove more beneficial.
Against hands like 9♠ 8♠, a small bet might be the only size that garners a call. Many hands within an opponent’s range will only be willing to commit a limited amount of money.
Here, we’re looking to get what’s known as “thin value”. With smaller bet sizes, we ensure a call from weaker hands while minimizing our potential losses against stronger ones.
Many players often have flush draws with low cards in their pre-flop play. Hence, flopping a flush or missing the diamonds altogether are both common outcomes. Betting big against J♥ 10♥ doesn’t seem necessary, and against J♦ 10♦, it can be downright detrimental.
The Strategic Deviation
So, when does it make sense to risk big on a monotone flop? When you possess a robustly made hand or draw and are looking to exploit a stubborn opponent.
If you’re up against a player known for calling pre-flop with a plethora of off-suited junk, their range will encompass more single diamond low cards on an 8♦ 6♦ 4♦ flop.
Furthermore, a calling station might pay for multiple streets even with weak draws. In such scenarios, one could adjust their ante sizes for hands like A♦ 7♦ or 4♣ 4♠.
To clarify, we’re not preaching a dogmatic approach of always betting small or checking on monotone flops. But theoretically, it’s often the better move. The beauty of poker lies in its flexibility, allowing us to adjust and maximize our profits against various player types.