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Poker Betting

Betting strategies can be varied, but should should be built upon the simple idea that, by betting, the player can take control of the hand.  By betting, as opposed to checking, the bettor may force out a particular opponent who is not prepared to call the bet.  This is especially valuable when the bettor does not hold much of a hand, either (in this case the bet would be considered a bluff).  It is said that 'betting provides equity' and this is an example of exactly what this statement means.  By betting a player with a potentially inferior hand may cause another player with a slightly stronger hand to fold and, thus, forfeit the pot.  In the following paragraphs, we will examine the different types of betting and the strategy considerations behind each.

Leading
Betting may allow the initial, or lead bettor, to control the hand.  The initial bettor can sometimes force another player out by showing strength via his or her bets.  Unfortunately, the player who is the lead-off bettor does NOT have any information about the hands of the other players at this point and must decide whether to proceed aggressively (by betting) or cautiously (by checking).  Aggressiveness is typically rewarded because by betting the bettor is giving his or her opponents the opportunity to fold.

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Position
Position is a key consideration because a player's betting position can dictate the amount of information that is available to them when it comes time for them to act.  For instance, the lead bettor, in our example above, must decide whether or not to bet BEFORE seeing what his opponent (s) are going to do.  At this point, because the bettor must act first, there is no information available to him.  Contrast this scenario with one in which the bettor is last, as opposed to first, to act.  Now the bettor knows whether his opponent has decided to check or bet--he has additional information--and can decide on the appropriate course of action.

For example, let's suppose the bettor who is last to act has been checked to.  Now, this player can decide to: 1) Check in return, thus allowing himself the opportunity to see another card WITHOUT contributing any additional money to the pot (this is sometimes referred to as getting a free card).  2) Bet with the knowledge that his opponent has checked and may have a weak hand which he will fold to a bet.  In the second scenario, the player who is last to act, does have to consider the likelihood that his opponent may have checked to him with the intention of check-raising.

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Check-raise
The check raise is a powerful weapon that can only be used by the initial or lead bettor.  This technique consists of the lead bettor checking with the intention of raising should his or her opponent bet.  Because the player who is last to act may be check-raised by an opponent who has initially checked, the player who acts last does have certain considerations to make before betting each and every time this player is checked to.  Namely, the player who is last to act must consider: 1) How likely is it that I will be check raised if I bet and 2) What action will I take should I get check raised by my opponent?  If the player who acts last has a hand with potential, such as a drawing hand, it may be beneficial to see an additional card for free by checking and not allowing his opponent the opportunity to check-raise.  If the player who is last to act has a weak hand, it may be correct to bet if checked to and fold if raised, or decide at a later point in the hand what the correct strategy is, if called.

In conclusion, the astute poker player has many different strategies available to them and by understanding each individual technique, as well as the potential outcome of employing any given strategy, this player will be more likely to choose the correct course of action during a given poker hand, which will lead to more winning sessions and a deeper understanding of the game.