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Defense As demonstrated in the hand above, predictable turn play can be very expensive. It cost my opponent a 120 BB pot. So what can you do to prevent observant opponents from taking advantage of you in similar situations where your range may be too polarized? You’ll need to bet your one pair hands in this situation occasionally, even though you don’t expect worse hands to give you action and are committing your stack against the rare set or two pair.
Generally, in the situation above, a hand like AK is either way ahead or way behind of your opponent’s holding. In a way ahead/way behind situation, checking for pot control is often the best play. If you want to de-polarize your range by occasionally betting, then you should find an opportunity where your hand still has some value against the hands that beat you.
For example, the next day, I played a hand at 3/6 no limit where a player I encounter regularly in these mid-stakes games opened for $21 one off the button. I had Ah Kh in the SB and re-raised to $74.
My opponent called the raise, and we saw a Td 3h 6h flop. I bet $110, and he called again. The turn was the Ks, giving me top pair, top kicker. As discussed above, I knew it was very likely that he would fold if I bet this turn. I also knew that if he did not fold, I was likely to be up against a set. There was still $800 left in the effective stacks, so I was going to get a lot of money in bad if that was what he had. However, my redraw to the nut flush gave me 18% equity even if he did have a set. Without the redraw, I’d be drawing dead against such a holding. Obviously, a situation where you expect to fold out most worse hands and occasionally get 120 BB’s in with 18% equity is still not a good one. My point, however, is that if your objective is to prevent exploitation by thinking opponents whom you encounter regularly, you will need actually to have AK sometimes when you fire a second barrel at this turn. And with the heart draw, I am way ahead/moderately behind rather than way ahead/way behind on the turn, which is not great but certainly the lesser of two evils.
In the hand, I bet $240 on the turn, my opponent moved all in for $800, and I called and lost a big pot to a set of 3's. It is important to remember, however, that frequently this play costs you not your entire stack but only the river bet that your opponent may have called had you checked the turn. And who knows how much you gain in future credibility when you represent a scare card and your opponent can not call you down confidently with an underpair to the board.