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Synopsis of "No Limit Hold'em: Theory and Practice"


Synopsis of No Limit Hold 'em: Theory and Practice

  by David Sklansky and Ed Miller

The definitive text on this exciting game. Taking a theoretical approach, it covers critical concepts like manipulating the pot size, adjusting correctly to stack sizes, winning the battle of mistakes, reading hands, and manipulating opponents into playing badly. It breaks this complex game down with thorough and easy to follow analysis. No Limit Hold'em: Theory and Practice is the ideal read for anyone looking to improve their cash game or tournament play. 310p (paper)

Excerpt from the book No Limit Hold 'em: Theory and Practice: Concepts and Weapons

Sometimes you should go for a check-raise bluff on the river when a bluff bet would be unprofitable.

You're playing $5-$10 with $1,000 stacks. You have


in the big blind. One player limps, the small blind completes, and you check. The flop comes


giving you a flush draw. The small blind checks, and you bet $30. The limper calls, and the small blind folds. The pot is $90.

The turn is the Ac. You check, and your opponent checks. The river is the 2d.

Since your opponent called on the flop, she probably had at least something at that point. She may have flopped a pair, or she could have flopped one of several possible draws. It's also possible either that she flopped nothing or that she slowplayed two pair or a set.

When you checked the turn, and she checked behind when an ace came, that sequence supported the possibility that your opponent held either a draw or a modest pair.

The river obviously didn't complete any draws, so if she held a draw on the turn, her hand is now busted (though likely still better than yours). But it's also quite likely that she holds a modest pair (now two pair). Let's say, for the sake of argument, that she has a 60 percent chance of having a modest two pair, a 20 percent chance of having a busted draw, a 10 percent chance of having "nothing," and a 10 percent chance of having trip deuces or better.

If you bet, you think she'll call roughly 70 percent of the time (when she has a modest two pair and when she has trips or better). You also think she'll bluff-raise occasionally with her "nothing" hands and busted draws. Given these percentages, you decide that a bluff bet wouldn't be profitable.


So you check. She bets $50 (into the $90 pot). Now the scene has changed completely. The fact that she bet helps you narrow down her hand range considerably.

Specifically, she would be far more likely to check her modest two pair hands, hoping to win a showdown, rather than bet them. So the fact that she bet means that she probably either has trips or better (10 percent overall) or she has "nothing" (30 percent overall). If she's a frequent bluffer, she could easily have nothing now the majority of the time!

A small check-raise (say $70 more to $120) will leave you betting $120 to win $140. If you're right, and she's bluffing the majority of the time that she bets, then your check-raise bluff is profitable while a bet-out bluff wouldn't have been. In fact, even if our assumption that she'd rarely bet modest two pair hands is somewhat wrong, she'll often fold those hands anyway to the check-raise. It's counterintuitive, but true: Sometimes a check-raise bluff will be profitable when a bet bluff isn't.

Be more apt to semi-bluff when your draw isn't to the nuts than when it is.

When you contemplate a semi-bluff with a drawing hand, you have to compare the expectation of betting against the expectation of checking.

Say you estimate that the expectation of semi-bluffing is some positive amount $X. Knowing that bluffing has a positive expectation shouldn't necessarily convince you to bet, however, as checking could still be better for one of a couple reasons:

  • You might hit your draw and win money from someone who would have folded to your bluff. For instance, if you have 9s8s on a 7c6s2d board, and a Th comes on the turn, you could win money from someone with Td6d who would have folded to your flop bet.
  • Checking, especially when last to act, could allow you to see an extra card those times your opponent already has a strong hand and would have raised you out had you bluffed. If you check and catch your draw, sometimes you'll win your opponent's entire stack. Thus, occasionally checking will turn a loss (of your bluff bet) into a huge win (of the pot plus your opponent's stack).

Both of these effects are stronger (favoring checking) when you have a nut draw than when you don't. And if you not only don't have a nut draw, but you could even be drawing dead because the board is paired, the effect is stronger still.

For instance, compare 9s8s on a 7c6s2d board to 9s8s on a TcTd7d board. On the former board, all eight of your outs give you the nuts. On the latter, you have no outs to the nuts, and you could already be drawing dead to a full house (or to an expensive second-best against jack-ten or ten-six).

The former hand offers you a decent chance of making your draw, catching someone with a second-best hand, and doubling up. The latter hand offers very little chance to double up: If you were to get all-in against someone, chances are better than not that you'd be on the losing end.

With limited implied odds, semi-bluffing becomes more attractive on the paired board. Your best hope is that no one flopped much and that you can pick up the pot immediately. With the nut draw, however, you have higher hopes: stacking someone.

(Note: The above concept applies only when the stacks are big. With small stacks the reverse concept is usually true.)

From No Limit Hold 'em: Theory and Practice, by David Sklansky and Ed Miller. ©2006 by David Sklansky and Ed Miller.

No Limit Hold'em: Theory and Practice, by David Sklansky and Ed Miller as well as other titles from Two Plus Two Publishing can be found in bookstores, and is available online both at Amazon and the Two Plus Two Store.

Comments (1)

#1 Zugwat, 26 Apr 12 14:38

As i've read the short part, its definitely a great book!