Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Open Min Bet from Early Position in (full ring) NLHE

The learner always begins by finding fault, but the scholar sees the positive merit in everything. – Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

This tactic seems to be utterly disdained by the vast majority of the “pokerati” (which may be why it works). However, when I play online and I have small to medium pocket pairs in EP, I often open min bet. As a tactic, it’s cheap, it’s tricky, and it seems to work.
It’s a value bet, a blocking bet, and you’re seizing the initiative all at the same time.

If one limps in, one is more likely to get raised. If one gets raised and just calls, one is informing an observant opponent that one probably has a small to medium pocket pair which will almost certainly elicit a C-bet from the villain on the flop (and you will probably have to fold since you are out of position).

By open min-betting, you accomplish several things that will set you up for success in the hand. For instance:

1) First and foremost, it usually lets me see a cheap flop (in hopes of flopping a set).

2) It serves as something similar to a blocking bet because it seems to “freeze” the players in later position, more often inducing a call rather than a raise.

3) I believe the reason for this is that many players interpret an open min bet from EP to represent a big pocket pair.

4) This is good because it further serves to disguise my actual hand and helps to confuse my opponents.

5) It is also better than limping in because, it lets you maintain the lead in the hand rather than limp-calling (which in my opinion screams low or middle pair). By being the pre-flop bettor, you maintain your option of C-betting on the flop and have a reasonably good chance of taking down the pot right then.

6) It causes your opponents to do something (i.e. react) that helps me to narrow the range of hands they are likely to have.

7) Since it is thought of as a “donk” play, it may help me get action from weaker hands that I would not otherwise have gotten. It also seems to cause some of the other players at the table to think I am a “donk” so I get more action on other hands, too.

8) It seems to work better than a 3xbb or 4xbb bet from EP because betting one of those amounts (or more) just wins me the blinds. By betting the minimum, it seems to get bad hands to call more often. It also keeps me from getting too committed to a hand in EP.

9) Betting the minimum almost always induces a call from one or both blinds. This is good because a) if they had a quality hand they would have raised, b) they probably would have folded to a larger bet, c) even though I am in EP, I have position on the blinds, and d) most of the time, they will fold to a C-bet.

Why does it work? I think they (mistakenly) interpret my min bet as strength – as in I might have a huge pocket pair (many inexperienced players will open min bet with a big pocket pair). What hands seem to play best with this tactic?
I suggest 22 – 99 with an occasional big Ace mixed in to keep my opponents guessing. Remember, this is a tactic for creating and winning small pots from out of position.
If you are in position and/or want to create a big pot or play a big hand, there are other tactics that will probably serve you better.

Try adding this to your arsenal and see if it works for you, too. Just remember, you heard it here first.


HighOnPoker said...

If you are a good post-flop player, there can be a lot of merit to the min bet. Like anything in poker, it works BECAUSE it is the opposite of what is expected. You went through the details of the benefit, but the long and short of it is that it throws other people off of their game if done correctly.

Gnome said...

I like to raise minraisers big preflop. It takes away this play.
But I admit a minraise works well against more passive opponents.

Fuel55 said...

Somehow I dont think you are the first to think of this.

And if you are thinking this works at $10/20NL and up you are mistaken.

$mokkee said...

this might work at low level ring games. but, it's gone gonna get much respect at levels 400 NL and higher.

Lucypher said...

Thanks for all the comments.
I have not tried this play at any level above .50/1.00. I agree with you that it probably won't work at higher levels. Regarding playing at the 10/20 level, all I can say is Fuel, you da man.
I would love to roll like that someday.