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Controlling the Hand Part 2
Now that you know what control of the hand is, and how you get it, Part 2 will explain how control of the pot affects your profits.
When we left off in Controlling the Hand Part 1, we had just sucked out, hitting the 8♣ on the turn to give us a full house and the best hand.
We're first to act with our opponent having trip nines, and the belief that he's ahead in the hand.
Many beginner players here would check, assuming that his opponent would bet out since we know that he has a strong hand.
This is actually a big mistake. Remember, our opponent thinks that he has fooled us, giving us the dog and pony show saying "I'm really weak, I have nothing in my hand over here!"
So if we check, that will put up a red flag - after all, if we think he's weak, it only makes sense that we would bet any hand here.
Even if he doesn't think at that level, our check would make him think we're weak. He'd lower his betting amounts and bet small, trying to extract some value from us.
We have the perfect setup to play for stacks, so that is what we should do. I bet $75 into the pot knowing that my opponent will either:
a) Come over the top now
b) Continue to trap me and just call, saving his raise for the river
Buddy moves all in for about $325 on top of the $75 I just bet. I snap call, brick the river and take down the pot.
In this example, I got very lucky to win the pot, but that luck is not what's exceptional about it.
The example is chosen to illustrate the importance of having control in the hand.
The absolute most I could have lost in this hand would have been $45 - my pre-flop raise and the c-bet on the flop.
When I made the c-bet on the flop, I still held control in the hand, being the aggressor.
If Buddy would have raised the flop, he would have taken control away from me as the new aggressor and by having more crucial information than I do at this point.
As soon as he flat-calls the flop, he leaves me with all the control in the hand. He gave away the information, without taking the aggression from me.
Control Is Money
"Why does he need control if he has me dominated?"
Many beginners are at a loss when trying to find an answer to this question. If he's 95% to win*, why does he need control in the hand?
Although the odds are absolutely correct, and he is going to win this pot 19/20 times, he's actually losing money in the long run simply by giving up control.
In poker, you need to evaluate a play from the present to the future. This means any bets you made in the past are irrelevant.
For example, if you bet $500 into a $10 pot with a flush draw, and someone moves all in for $5, calling is the correct move at that point.
The fact that you paid $505 into a $10 pot for a flush draw means you're losing serious money, but at the point of your decision (whether or not to call the final $5), you're getting over 200/1 on your money, making a call correct.
By using this model, all money bet on the flop becomes irrelevant once we move on to the turn. Him allowing me to retain control in the hand is a decision for right now, and all decisions past this point are beginning at that single decision.
I will never put in another bet in this hand if I do not hit an eight on the turn. His expected profit on fourth and fifth streets is exactly $0.
Once I hit the 8 on the turn, I'm 100% guaranteed to take his entire stack, and his expected loss is $400. This means out of twenty permutations he loses $400 on the turn and river. (19*$0) + (1*-$400) = -$400.
If he was to end the hand on the flop by taking control and raising me, I must fold my hand. This will win him the pot of pre-flop and flop money.
Note: he wins this pot every time I miss my 8 on the turn as well - the difference is he has the ability to win this, without losing to the 8 on the turn, by taking control.
If he takes control on the flop, I lose money 100% of the time. But taking control going into the turn, I make a sizeable profit on the hand with zero risk.
Although it is possible to take other lines and possibly make a profit on this hand without control, having control reduces your risk to zero while allowing you to post a profit.
It's not possible to retain control in every hand you play. The goal as a poker player is to understand who has control, how they got it, and if it's possible for you to usurp them.
When you have control, you want to use it wisely, and do what you can to retain it.
The more time you spend in control at the table, the more money you'll make, the fewer swings you'll experience and the less stress you'll have.
*95% comes from evaluating the odds of me catching an eight (the only card that will win me the pot) specifically on the turn.
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