From the World Series of Poker to amateur online poker tournaments, you will play against numerous opponents, each with their own style of play. Some are aggressive, while others opt for the conservative approach. The world of poker is filled with strategies, tricks, aggressors and non-aggressors. How you react to each element is what separates the good from the great.
Today we discuss the ins and outs of probe betting and why it can be so advantageous.
What is a probe bet?
A probe bet is usually placed against aggressive opponents. Only possible on the turn or river, it’s the process of making an out-of-position bet after the preflop aggressor decides not to do a continuation bet. For example, if the aggressor raises the preflop and checks on the flop, you then have the opportunity to make a probe bet.
Advantages of a probe bet
In any poker game, the decision to utilize a probe bet should be influenced by the opponents around you, more specifically, those who placed a strong bet on the preflop. Being successful in online poker has a lot to do with finding balance and not becoming predictable. Vicious and virtuous cycles are often experienced in poker but can be managed through balanced play.
A probe bet is a great step to maintaining a level of equilibrium. Without it, you can find yourself making silly bets and out-of-character decisions. Not balancing check-back ranges is often found amongst beginners and intermediates; a probe bet is the perfect answer to restoring symmetry. Why? Because when a flop is checked, players holding strong hands rarely check back. This allows you to make a probe bet on the turn and potentially steal the pot.
Other advantages include the perception it creates of having strong cards when bluffing. Moreover, it allows you to gain control over the round as you’re taking the initiative away from the preflop aggressor.
When to probe
When you play poker online, you’ll discover that timing is everything. Similar to strategies in all online casino games, there are moments when to strike and when not to. The time to strike – regarding a probe bet – should be influenced by three factors:
- Opponents’ c-betting tendencies
- Board texture
- Your hand ranking
Opponents’ c-betting tendencies
Understanding the playing personalities of your opponents is crucial information to gather to give you the best chance of placing the most effective bet. So, a great time to make a probe bet is when you notice the aggressor usually checking and then folding the next round.
Within online poker, there are various types of board textures that connect better with your hand range than that of your opponent. Board texture relates to the community cards placed down by the dealer and the range of hands that it’s possible to achieve. So, if the flop is a 6 of clubs, 9 of hearts and 8 of hearts, you know the best possible hand ranges are straight or flush. If this correlates to your hand (such as holding two hearts,) you’re in a strong position to play a probe bet.
Your hand strength should play a pivotal role in whether you probe a bet or not. If you’re holding a strong hand with matching board textures, then you’re in a good position to make a probe bet. It’s important to understand that a probe bet isn’t a bluff; it’s a value bet and shows an intention to win the round with your hand strength.
When not to probe
It’s vital to never overuse probe betting so that you’re able to maintain a level of spontaneity – keep your opponents guessing. Furthermore, an instance when not to probe is if you know the preflop aggressor tends to check back strong hands.
Board textures are another deciding factor – if it’s not in your favor then rather back out. Remember, poker games can go on for several hours so being patient and not taking every opportunity can be financially fruitful. The key is knowing when to strike.
And if there are middle or bottom card pairs, you shouldn’t probe. Statistically, most players’ ranges will consist of middle or bottom pairs, so there’s really no point.
How can I improve my timing?
Timing is everything. If you’re struggling to make the most of optimal times to use certain strategies, then utilizing poker software tools is a marvelous way to get a better understanding of when and how to use strategies such as a probe bet. From database software to solvers that constantly monitor your cards to provide you with the best outcome to equity calculators, there are many tools at your disposal to elevate your game.
For beginners starting from scratch and trying to get to terms with things such as Texas Hold’em poker hands and how to play Omaha poker, there are numerous other resources and articles available to read and watch – there’s a good chance you will find the right information on our blog.
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