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  • Blocking Bets - Texas Hold'em Strategy

    blocking betsBlocking bets are bets that are made with the intent to essentially slow down the action. Blocking bets can be used when you want to set your own price to see another card or when you are unsure of your hand’s strength. Blocking bets can be easily be exploited by players who are able to pick up on them. If you watch high or even mid stakes cash game you are highly unlikely to see blocker bets. It is a “skill” best reserved for small and micro stakes play. It is quite easy to see through a blocker bet and their intended use hopes for results that are often unattainable by the very nature of the bet. In essence you will often be making a small blocker bet with the hope that it will develop into a huge pot. This logic has a major flaw, if you are only hoping for a call it means that you will only be successful when a weak hand is playing the pot. Strong hands will raise your blocker bets and weak hands might also raise them if they think they can squeeze a fold out of you. The only time that blocker bets will truly be effective is when you can get a hand that you barely beat to call you (or a better hand to fold). If you needto brush up on which hands are stong or weak read our Texas Hold'em hand selection guide.

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    Making a blocking bet (correctly)

    The only proper use of a blocker bet is when you have strong doubts as to the relative strength of your hand. Pretend that you have gotten to the river and have middle pair and a busted draw. This would be the type of situation where you could make a blocker bet and get away with it. There is a decent chance that you are ahead in the hand but there is also a chance that you are behind. Since you don’t know whether you are ahead or behind you will be helpless if you check and the other player bets. The remedy to this quandary is to put out a bet of your own. Making a bet on your own allows you to set the price. If the other player raises you can safely fold and lose the least, if the player calls you might be ahead. Couple these two scenarios with the possibility that you will get a fold and you have a profitable play.

    As mentioned earlier, though, a blocking bet requires that the environment be suitable. It would be useless to try and throw out blocker bets against solid players. It is rather easy to notice a blocker bet, provided you know what they are. Many micro stakes and small stakes players can’t properly decipher the difference between a value bet and a blocking bet. Sure, the amounts may be similar (between value and blocking bets) but the board can often be the indicator of what type of bet it is. When a player throws out a small lead bet on a draw heavy board it is very possible that they are just blocking the player from making a bet of their own. The reason is obvious, they want to see another card so that they know if they will nail their straight or flush. This won’t work though because when the players hit it will be hard to get paid off. If you bet small for a couple streets and then bomb the river when a third heart comes, is it not obvious that you have now made your hand? Of course it is. Use blocking bets very sparingly and with extreme caution.