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Tips From the Full Tilt Pros

Texture Isn't Just For Fabric by Phil Gordon

When I'm thinking about my actions after the flop or turn, I look to the "texture" of the board - i.e., what cards are in play, and how might they interact with my opponent's likely starting hands - to help determine if and how much I will bet.

My normal post-flop betting range is one third of the pot to the full size of the pot. The texture of the board dictates where in that range I choose to bet, and I determine that based on the following four factors:

1. How strong is my hand with respect to all of the likely hands for my opponent?

If I have a very strong hand with respect to all of the likely starting hands for my opponent, I'll usually go for the lower end of the spectrum, betting around 1/3 of the pot. I want my opponent to call.

If I have a moderate strength hand with respect to all of the likely starting hands for my opponent, I'll likely bet 2/3 of the pot. I want my opponents to fold some hands that are better than my hand and call with some hands that are worse than my hand.

If I have a weak hand with respect to all of the likely starting hands for my opponent and I want to bet, I'll bet the pot. I want my opponents to fold hands that are better than my hand.

2. How likely is my hand to improve?

If my hand is unlikely to improve, I tend to bet more than 2/3 of the pot. I want to take this pot now.

If my hand is somewhat likely to improve, say about 15% to 20% of the time, I am more apt to bet 2/3 of the pot.

If my hand is very likely to improve (about 34% of the time or more), I am more apt to bet 1/2 of the pot.

3. How likely is my opponent to have "hit the flop" and have a pair or better?

If my opponent is unlikely to have hit the flop and have top pair or better, I tend to bet 1/3 of the pot whether I think I have the best hand or not.

If my opponent is likely to have flopped exactly one pair, and I think I have the best hand, I tend to bet 2/3 of the pot.

If my opponent is likely to have flopped two pair or better and I think I have the best hand, I tend to bet the size of the pot. If I don't think I have the best hand, I'll almost never bet.

4. How likely is my opponent to have a primary draw? (That is, a draw to the best possible hand on the board, like a straight or a flush.)

If I think my opponent is likely to have a primary draw and I think I have the best hand, I'm likely to bet the size of the pot.

If I think my opponent has a primary draw and there is a good chance I don't have the best hand, I'll almost never bet.

When the four factors above lead to different conclusions about how much to bet, I average the recommendations and bet that amount.

Over time, you'll develop a more immediate sense of the "texture" of the board, and the amount to bet based on that will become almost automatic. Then, you can spend less time calculating your actions and more time observing your opponents.

This lesson is from Phil Gordon's Little Green Book: Lessons and Teachings in No Limit Texas Hold'em , published by Simon Spotlight Entertainment.

Phil Gordon

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