Controlling the Hand Part 2

Eric Liu
P33chy's got control.

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.

Huck Seed

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.

Justin Smith
37; no risk.#

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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shyshack 2009-11-17 00:55:00

Great article, but I don't like the example either.

When you raise from middle position, he can put you on many hands different than pocket pairs, for example AK, AQ, etc. You would probably c-bet this hands, too. By raising he makes you throw these hands away. When he just calls he hopes you will improve on the turn by hitting top pair.

Also, if you are agressive player he can hope you will put him on pocket pairs lower than 9 and will want to make him throw them away by 2-nd barrel or even 3-rd barrel.

So I belive that his expected profit on turn and river is for sure bigger than 0. Am I wrong?

Your Google Toolbar can fill this in for you. Select AutoFill 2009-06-29 05:07:00

i get very little from this article

thomas hermans 2009-05-01 21:56:00

and the times the guy calls with ak aq and you put him on three nines you will check the turn and he will bet you will fold are not included

Sean Lind 2009-04-29 00:52:00

He could also have pocket 9's, either way I pay him off here.

It's too improbable to worry about.

You can't play scared of the improbable what-ifs. At a certain point, if they have you beat you just pay them.

It's like checking the big full, if he has quads, you simply pay the man. Doyle has claimed to have once folded the big full to quads, I highly doubt this ever happened.

If it did, there's a lot of information he's not giving us about the surrounding events.

RjD4poker 2009-04-28 19:19:00

Easy to say after the fact but not realy a great exemple.

Suppose I'm the other player, I decide to play 94s for some reason.

Review the hand the same way you did and the result is a big lost instead of a gain.

I would say, having control is great unless you're playing with morons who would play anything at any time just to see what would result out of it.

Sean Lind 2009-04-25 19:36:00

Hey Walsh, you're right. Other than the re-suck, 100%. Good spot, but the idea stays the same.

walshkk 2009-04-24 21:46:00

great article but have to disagree with ''Once I hit the 8 on the turn, I'm 100% guaranteed to take his entire stack''

if the chips go into the middle on the turn he has 3 aces 1 nine and 3 fours to make the best hand. 84/ 16

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