October 17, 2011

Hand Control for Poker Props – Part 2

The one factor that outweighs all others when it comes to hand control is to have more information than your opponent. The player who knows something his peers don't will always have control in the hand regardless of whether or not he's an aggressor. The most feared player in the world won't be able to assert control over a hand in which his opponent has the nuts and he doesn't.

Control is tricky business though. Of course, every poker prop should aim to have full control over hands in which he has chips committed, but the problem is that if everyone at the table knows that you have control, you'll have problems getting paid.

The real deal is to grab control, while allowing your opponents to believe that they have the control. When he believes he has control, your opponent will not fear you. He will think that he's taking you to value-town, while in fact he's walking into the trap that you have sprung. This is how large pots are won in NL Holdem.

Here's an example to illustrate the point: at a $1/$2 NLH table, the hero picks up pocket 8s in middle position. He makes a standard $15 raise and two villains decide to tag along. The hero has around $600 in his stack while the player on the button has $450.

The flop falls 9,3,9 and the hero is in a little bit of a trouble. It's definitely not the best flop he could ask for, but his hand is a decent-enough one to warrant continued aggression. He fires out a continuation bet of $30 and one of the villains gets out of the way leaving our guy heads-up with the button. The button falls into acting mode: he sighs and scratches his head and then – as if against his better judgment – he reluctantly makes the call. At this point it becomes clear that he has either a set of 9s or possibly a set of 4s. This is when the hero gains the upper hand control-wise, even though his actual position in the hand is rather dismal: he knows pretty much exactly what his opponent has, while his opponent only knows what he holds. The turn falls the 8c and out hero is hit big time. He has full control in the hand on account of the boat he's just secured, and he has the villain believing he's the one taking the opposition to value town.

At this point, taking anything less than the villain's entire stack would be a major mistake.

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