If you can find a guy who is folding pairs, you can collect tens of big blinds without a hand.
If you can find a guy who isn’t folding pairs, you can collect much, much more.
Utilizing The Threebet
Most threebet bluffing strategies these days work to isolate a person who flats threebets too much. It is increasingly rare to find a player who will fold to a threebet.
In those cases, when one is working with a light threebet, the focus is on who folds their high cards postflop.
If you can find a person who is getting overly involved preflop and isolate them on the flop, they’re in real trouble if they just fold every time they miss. They’re getting their chips plucked when the other players have nothing. They need to develop a tighter opening range, a checkraise, or a donk bet. Most low-to-mid stakes players wouldn’t know where to start if they were told to do this.
There is another gear that poker players can engage in when they’re not isolating players who will fold their high cards.
It starts with a simple question.
“Who can fold pairs?”
Who Can Fold Pairs?
It is actually rare to find someone who can fold pairs at low-to-mid stakes. Many players at these limits are consumed with the worry that they might fold the winning hand. If they call and you have the goods, they can just nod and muck the hand. No one gets to see what they called with. No harm, no foul. They’re not used to winning anyway, so that doesn’t bother them. They just don’t want someone to show them a bluff, and then have everyone staring at them like they’re an idiot. They don’t want to go home worried they folded the winner when it was right there in front of them.
For these reasons, players should focus on relentlessly value betting most of the time. Folding percentages actually go down as people get further into the hand. Loss aversion is a real thing, no one understands sunk cost.
However, there are players who can fold pairs. If you can find them, it opens up some bluffing options that aren’t normal.
What To Look For
How can you identify players who fold pairs? The secret lies in watching the other hands. If you see a player get to the turn or river and face multiple barrels then fold, you have a likely candidate. Typically, people call on the flop with at least a pair. This is doubly true with a turn call. If they’re getting through those streets and then folding later in the hand, that is someone who has the ability to read hands. Generally, people don’t double and triple barrel bluff enough, so they’re right the vast majority of the time when they’re folding on those later streets. They’re just not going to be right when they’re folding versus you.
You can also identify these players based on their appearance. Guys who dress like poker pros might actually be poker pros. There’s a reason so many of us wear the sweatpants, hoodies, and hats, we get lazy after we’ve spent so many years living out of a casino without a boss.
If a guy is dressed like that, it’s possible he’s made somewhat of a living over the years playing cards. He’s likely learned that many players don’t have the gall to bluff. He could be folding pairs later in the hand. Again, watch the hands you’re not involved in before you make this assumption, but know that this is a marker.
Sometimes serious recreational players are capable of folding pairs. They present themselves in a different fashion than the pros, however. A player who has that kind of discipline postflop is the type of person who likely has discipline in other facets of their life. You’ll notice many of these guys are spookily lean, clean cut, and keep their chips in neat order. They’re calm and measured in their speech. They’re kind to the floor staff. They have no bone to pick with anybody, they’ve mastered themselves.
Now, once you’ve seen a few late folds, you can start setting up your double and triple barrels more effectively.
You should start with a couple different boards for this.
One is any board where a player would likely raise with their best hands. A board such as 9d-6s-5s, for example, is a dangerous board to smooth call on. You’ll see many players raise their sets or two pair on that board. If they didn’t threebet you preflop, it’s unlikely they have an overpair. Their range is capped at one pair, and not a great one. They’ll occasionally have the draw, but most of the time they won’t.
If that board starts developing in a way that is not favorable to the pairs on it, then you should keep firing. Sevens and eights are fair game. Spades, a little less so, but you can still lean on them. Over cards are great.
Another board you can look for is one where a second overcard comes to the second and third pair. This is a board many people don’t consider a bluffing board, but it works well. Many players have awoken to the fact that people like to double barrel bluff when an over card comes, but they won’t see this one as well.
Take a board like Kh-6d-5d. You fire a continuation bet and your opponent calls. The turn comes a Jack of clubs.
The 8-7 just missed, the diamond draw missed, and the sixes and fives now have another overcard to deal with. This is a good time to fire.
The Last Eventuality
Finally, let’s discuss one more eventuality that will come up if you play in a cardroom enough.
You will find that some guys just cannot fold a pair if their life depended on it. They can’t handle not knowing if they got bluffed. You’ll identify this guy by noticing he never gets to the river and folds.
In a tournament, you should lock up a 75% pot-sized bet versus these people, but if you’re playing cash and you have infinite time, you need to start experimenting with overbets. You’ll be amazed how many of these people will call when you value bet 1.8X pot on the river.
How should you balance? Well, this guy isn’t going to notice, but if you want to keep him calling, I would start working in overbet bluffs versus the pair folders on those boards we discussed. At some point, you will get caught. People pay special attention when an overbet is called in a normal game. If your mark who can’t fold a pair sees you bluffed once with an overbet he’ll keep calling for ages.
I hope these tips have been beneficial to you and your game. Good luck to all of you.