In our daily lives, we regard “value” as getting a fair amount of money or other medium of exchange in return for something.
On the other hand, when we refer to value in poker, we are seeking a higher return. Terms used: “betting for value,” “full value,” and “maximum value.”
Value is getting paid off by callers when you hold a monster hand, preferably the nuts. Your goal is to get the “most” value from your hand – to extract maximum value – the most chips possible from your opponents, especially when you flop a monster.
How can you do this?
Monster hands do not come around so often that we should settle for a relatively small profit. Use deception: Slow-play on the flop. If an opponent bets, just call him. Keep as many opponents as possible in the hand.
Don’t raise until the turn or river when the bets are much larger. Use the check-raise strategy. If you are in a middle position with opponents behind you, consider whether one of them will make the bet. Loose or aggressive players are inclined to bet out. After he is called by other players at the table, make your raise. The pot grows!
The river is your last opportunity to get value for your monster hand. If everyone checks to you (after your check-raise on the turn), it is best to make the bet, unless you are almost certain a player behind you will do so. And hope one or more opponents will call. But, be careful if the board looks dangerous.
Is there a reasonable chance someone has caught a better hand than yours? In that case, an opponent may be lying in wait for you; check along. Of course, that precaution is not necessary if you hold the nuts. Bet to get maximum value from your winning hand!
Example: In a no-limit game, you are under-the-gun (UTG) with A-A in the hole. It’s a tight table. (You probably should have changed tables before now.) You are tempted to raise, but then you risk everyone folding. Winning a very small pot is not getting anywhere near full value.
On the other hand, if it’s a loose table with several aggressive players and calling-stations, by all means, go ahead and make your bet. In no-limit games, bet to get chips into the pot, but not so much as to force most of them all out. You want three or four opponents sticking around for the bigger bets on the turn and river.
Facing a drawing hand: Most often your opponents will hold drawing hands after the flop – hands that usually must improve to win. With your “made” hand – say, a set of Queens on the flop – you are bound to be way ahead of your opponents. Either slow-play or bet an amount that will not price them out.
Let them draw; most of the time (but not always) they will miss their draws. Then on the turn, you can bet a substantial amount so as to maximize your reward – betting for value.
Timing is important: Just as in bluffing, how fast or slow you act can give opponents a clue as to the strength of your hand. Betting faster or slower than usual may encourage an opponent to stop and think. The more he ponders, the more likely he is to fold. But you want him to call. So, to get full value from your monster, hesitate before betting no less and no more than you have been doing during this game.
Know your opponents: What kind of player is each? Don’t think you erred if a tight player folds to your bet on the turn. That’s what tight players do. They love to have loose players at your table and will help you get value when holding the winning hand.
Aggressive and deceptive players present a real challenge. Best to hold a monster against them.
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