by Ashley Adams
Simple no limit strategy calls for betting aggressively when you’re ahead, folding when behind if the eventual pot size doesn’t warrant a draw, and drawing when you figure you’ll win enough money when you hit to justify the odds against making the winning hand. A disciplined player, playing against poor and mediocre players, can make a small amount of money with this strategy. However, it has become increasingly difficult to find games with a sufficient number of poor players to make a simple basic strategy profitable. The average player in the public poker room has become significantly better over the 12 years or so that low limit no limit has been regularly spread.
So what’s the solid player to do if he wants to continue to profit in the waters of low limit no limit hold’em?
One option, of course, is to try to find or organize private games with little or no rake. Good luck with that. As public poker rooms have proliferated over the past 15 years, good private games have become increasing difficult to find and to maintain – as players generally flock to where the action already is – namely the public poker room (or its illegal cousin, the raked house game).
The other option is to ramp up your game by adopting strategies that are more aggressive and more deceptive than your initial basic strategy. These strategies prove more successful against the high caliber player now found in even the low stakes $1/2 no limit game found in most public poker rooms. One of those strategies is “betting on the come”.
“Betting on the come” is, simply, betting with the expectation that you will eventually have the best hand even though, when you bet, you may not yet have it. In its simplest form it is betting with a flush draw, for example, hoping to hit your flush with the cards yet to be dealt. It is sometimes part of the oft-described “semi-bluff” – a bluff with a back up plan. But it can also be done with no element of bluff. As such, “betting on the come” is the back up plan without the bluff component.
Let’s look at a simple example. You start in late position with Ac Jc and raise to $12 in a $1/2 no limit game. This raise is betting on the come – betting with the hope that the cards yet to come will improve your hand.
You are called by the player on the button and the large blind – a fairly loose passive player. The flop is Kc 9c 2d. The large blind checks. You bet $25. You expect the player on the button to call your bet – since he tends to be fairly loose. You don’t know the player in the large blind, but since he checked to you, you expect he will probably fold. Sure enough, you are called only by the player on the button.
Your bet was an example of betting on the come. This isn’t a semibluff, since you didn’t expect to win the hand with your bet, since you expected that at least the loose player on the button would call. But you bet anyway with your flush draw, hoping that you’d hit on the turn or the river, and win the hand with the flush you expected to get.
If the flush card comes on the turn, your bet on the flop will probably win you a lot of extra money (assuming your opponent is appropriately deep) – not only because there would be more money in the pot than if you checked and your opponent checked behind you, but because the way you bet your hand on the flop would make your opponent tend to put you on a lesser hand than a flush on the turn – making it more likely that he would call you with a hand that he would surely have laid down if he put you on the flush that you actually made.
Betting on the come is generally not a good idea against shortstacked players – since you can’t win enough against them when your hand hits to justify the many times your hand doesn’t hit. In the second half of this article I’ll go into more detail about how and when betting on the come is profitable.
Ashley Adams is the author of Winning No Limit Hold’em and Winning 7-card Stud, both available at Amazon.com. He is also the host of the popular poker radio show, House of Cards. For listening times and stations, to get a podcast of the show, or to check out the blog, go to www.houseofcardsradio.com. You can email Ashley at firstname.lastname@example.org.