Drop hands that should be called

An exploitation ploy that John Finn uses (especially in split-pot games) involves the following maneuver to make a hesitant player call a bet:

The game is high-low, five-card stud with two twists. John has a winner--a lock on low. Quintin and Ted are playing for high. Quintin bets $20. Ted has a four flush and wants to call, but is afraid that John will raise and Quintin will reraise, thus costing him $40 more. He starts to fold. John picks up a $20 bill and holds it over the pot. Now, knowing that John will only call and not raise, Ted calls. He then catches a flush on the twist. After more betting and raising, Ted ends up beating Quintin for high. John wins low and makes an extra $50 by not letting Ted fold.

John seldom fakes that maneuver. So when players see him holding the call money, they know with confidence that he will not raise. But he will often fake the reverse maneuver of not holding the call money and then not raising.

The good player also exploits his opponents through betting. When holding a strong hand, he can build much larger pots by getting other players to do his betting and raising. Successful indirect betting requires accurate reading of opponents' hands and knowledge of their betting habits. Miscalculation of indirect betting can result in smaller pots. Thus, when uncertain about his opponents' intentions, the good player will bet aggressively rather than check his strong hand.

Disproportionate betting can throw opponents into more vulnerable and exploitable betting positions.

For example, by making a bet or a raise completely out of proportion to the normal or expected bet, the good player can confuse opponents into making the desired bet, raise, call, or drop. Disproportionate betting is useful as both an offensive and a defensive tool.

Scotty deals draw poker with one twist. John Finn gets a four-card straight flush. For his best investment odds, John wants the maximum players calling a bet big enough to keep them in for the large last-round bets. He also wants to avoid raises that would make players fold. So John opens for $14 instead of the normal $25. Noses wrinkle. Players with poor hands smile and call at this bargain price. Potential raisers, suspicious of the weird bet and fearing a sandbag, only call. The results are perfect for John ... everyone calls and no one raises. John's estimated investment odds soar to a highly favorable--

But if John had bet the normal $25 and only two players called, his estimated investment odds would have tumbled to--

Now suppose John had bet $25, someone raised to $50, and everyone else folded. If John had called the raise (which he probably would not have), his estimated investment odds would have fallen to an unfavorable--

By making the disproportionate $14 bet, John sets up the hand for maximum profits while gaining control of the betting. Moreover, if he checks his bet on the next round, usually one or more players will feel deprived of a full opening-round bet and thus bet aggressively. John can then passively let them do the betting and raising for him. On the other hand, if John bets on the next round, the other players will probably remain defensive and avoid betting or raising.

So with that disproportionate S14 bet, John increases his investment odds and leaves himself in a flexible betting position. John's checking will induce his opponents to bet aggressively; his betting will cause them to remain defensive. Thus he can conveniently turn the betting into either an offensive tempo (by checking) or a defensive tempo (by betting) . . . whichever is more

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