Theory question: is checking or betting tiny better?

YoukaiYoukai Red Chipper Posts: 38 ✭✭
I was listening to the "betting mistakes" podcast and Ed/Doug were talking about the lead for a tiny amount into a multi-way pot giving things like flush draws direct odds to call. They made the statement that in that case betting tiny is still better than checking. I was wondering if that is actually the case though.

So here is the scenario I would like to discuss: You are heads up on the turn against a villain that you know has a flush draw. The flush draw will be good if it hits, otherwise you win. The villain knows his outs and will play perfectly in that if you give him the correct direct odds to call a bet he will; i.e. if you bet a number that gives him better than the 4-1 he needs to call profitably he will call. For whatever reason you only feel comfortable betting an amount that would give villain 8-1 odds; meaning if you put the bet out you know villain will call. That being the case is it better to bet or to check?

I would think that it would be better to check given that situation. If we bet giving direct odds to call then it seems like we are essentially throwing money away. I don't see how that can be better than checking. Sure we are giving the villain "infinite odds" if we check but still it seems to me that this is still better than +EV odds on a larger amount. It seems to me that any bet which is giving a draw direct odds to call is a bad bet and should only be considered if you really believe your fold equity is large enough to cover the difference.

Does anybody agree or disagree? Is there some fault in my logic that I'm missing?


  • BotswanaNickBotswanaNick Red Chipper Posts: 696 ✭✭✭
    If we are essentially playing faceup (both players know that a flush on river will give villain pot, and any other scenario gives hero pot), then you are incorrect. Just think of it this way: You are going to win the pot 82% of the time. If that is the case, any amount of money that goes in on the turn will be yours 82% of the time. 82% of a tiny bet is greater than 0, therefore betting is better than checking.

    If you think as part of an overall strategy though, these small bets often are bad (if they aren't balanced) because they are helping to define your range while also giving your opponent correct odds to chase their flush. You must also consider implied odds. Overall, I think a robust strategy should rarely include betting 1/4 pot on a draw-heavy board, at least as a default.
  • jeffncjeffnc Red Chipper Posts: 5,007 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited July 2016
    There is a fault in your logic. It is always better to bet.

    You can do the math check. Let's just say there is $70 in the pot. Since we know he has a flush draw (and assuming we're ahead, and assuming a flush is the only way he can win), we'll ignore all river betting and concentrate on the turn only.

    There is a 19% chance the flush will come in.

    If you check, you win 81% of the time, so your equity is

    .81($70) = $56.7

    If you bet $10, your opponent must call putting $80 in the pot for you to win. So you have a 19% chance of losing $10, and an 81% chance of winning $80.

    .81($80) - .19(10) = $62.9

    You win $62.9 - $56.7 = $6.2 more by betting.

    Another way to look at this is assuming a flush is roughly 4:1, you are going to win this play 4 out of 5 time times. In other words, if you bet $1 5 times, you win 4 times and lose 1 time. $4 - $1 is $3. $3 won every 5 bets is averaging 60 cents proft for every dollar you bet.

    This actually comes up fairly often in limit poker. Some players who only play NL say "I don't like limit - you can never bet anyone off a draw". If there's $70 in the pot in a $5/10 limit game, they won't bet, because "he's going to call anyway". Faulty thinking.

    Sklansky says you profit when your opponent makes mistakes. However there are sometimes situations in poker where no one is making a mistake, due to the previous action and the money in the pot. This would be one of those examples. Hero is correct to bet, and villain is correct to call. Hero would be making a mistake to not bet (even in a limit game) and villain would be making a mistake to fold. This is true even if both players turned their cards face up - both players would still be forced to take the same action.
  • YoukaiYoukai Red Chipper Posts: 38 ✭✭
    Hmm. That's interesting. Good explanation. Thank you.
  • kageykagey Red Chipper, KINGOFTAGS Posts: 2,241 ✭✭✭✭✭
    you made a good argument, counsellor.
    case closed.

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