Board texture is potentially the most defining concept of online poker game Texas Hold’em. The community cards determine which hands are possible and in what frequencies. Many small-stakes gamblers understand board texture in frivolous yet superficial ways. The way they see it is that board pairs make full houses, three-suited cards make a flush and high cards are more likely to hit hands than low cards.
Truth is that each of the possible flops is unique and each one can offer a varied mix of hand distributions. If you can understand distributions more than your opponents, you can find a myriad of bluffing opportunities that your competitors can miss.
Putting board texture into perspective
Let’s imagine we have an Ace (diamonds), 8 (clovers), 3 spaces to K (diamonds), 8 (clovers) and 3 (spades). Now’s let’s assume that our competitors will play 40% of their hands preflop.
This is a much higher number than what is theoretically correct, but it’s a common sight in many live games.
On the A-8-3 flop, your competitors with the 40% range will flop top pair or better circa 30% of the time. These numbers tend to support the theory that making small bluffs on the flop can go against a small number of opponents.
Let’s now imagine you only have one competitor. If you bluff €30 into a €80 pot on the flop then you assume you’re going to win circa 40% of the time. If, on the other hand, are called, then you can bluff €60 into the €160 pot and also expect to win 40% of the time.
Both of the above bets show an almost-immediate profit since you are giving yourself 2:1 odds while your competitor is likely to fold more than 33% of the time to every bet. If, on the other hand, you have three or four competitors, the chance of one of the players holding an ace gets quite high. With three other players and applying the 32.5% chance of flopping top pair or better, one of the other players is bound to have an ace about 70% of the time. You could try to bluff these players on the flop.
Small stakes no-limit online poker players apply strategies that can be easily exploited. Sometimes you don’t even have to glance at your cards to beat them in various situations. So what are the mistakes that many of these players seem to be making?
To begin with, they are playing too many hands pre-flop. When you play that many hands preflop, you easily end up with too many junk hands post-flop. Regardless of what might come out with the flop, the hands will always pad the percentage of folding hands, making bluffs more tempting.
Secondly, these players are giving bets too much credit. Since these stakes tend to be profitable with any two cards, you shouldn’t give these bets too much credit. In general, most small stakes online poker players apply a strategy that requires them to hit flops hard with weak hands in order to make a profit. Statistically, that is a poor strategy.
The good news is that in small stakes games, you can often tell if it would be profitable for you to bluff a flop and turn simply by looking at the board texture and the number of your opponents. You don’t need to have that much information about your opponents, and you don’t even need to have a peek at your hand.
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