Reversing Play

Poker night tonight. We’re all coming to the point where we’re considering what each other player is thinking (including myself). I thought that we had reached this point a long time ago, but now that I bring it up honestly, it seems that’s not the case. We managed to get to a fairly advanced level of strategy without it, but now that we’re here, things are going to get very interesting.

For some reason this technique never occurred to me before: reversing the slow/fast play. Let’s take the fairly common case of a flop like A66. Now, the usual thing to do for an adept player is to bet if you’ve got the ace (to keep draws out), and wait until the turn to bet if you’ve got the 6. Now, the latter play is meant as deception anyway, but if everybody does it, it’s certainly losing its deceptive quality. So why not check raise if you’ve got the Ace (careful about reading for the 6, though)? And why not bet out immediately if you’ve got the 6?

If you bet out immediately, anyone who’s half-way active will think you don’t have it (the totally passive players may just get scared off and fold), and raise you with, say, the Ace. Second, a check raise always makes people think twice about what you might have. So if you check raise with the Ace, you can be pretty sure whether you’re ahead or behind after the opponent acts, and get out before you have to guess at the turn with high pair.

Of course, this strategy must be mixed up with the “usual” way to do it. Especially with the check-raise, you become very trappable, so you must keep your opponent guessing. Is this not the story of poker?

This took me so long to figure out, and now it seems obvious.


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