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02/12/2007 No. 53
he Guardian G2 Poker Column
Victoria Coren
Monday Dec 2, 2007

Last week, we talked about helping your opponents to make mistakes. I recommended making a small raise in early position with a range of different hands, because this is opening the door for others' errors: they may allow you to see a cheaper flop with your small suited connectors than you would have seen if they raised themselves - or they may reraise when you've got a big pair, and thus the heffalump trap snaps shut on their bumbling fingers.

This week's poker trap involves betting a strong made hand on the flop, then checking the turn. Ooh, it's juicy.


The first principle is that, even in this sophisticated age, most recreational players will check a big hand on the flop "to disguise it". They will expect you to do the same. So, if you flop a flush or trips, go ahead and bet. You will find, to your delight, that people usually don't believe you. They will call with one pair to keep you honest. If you respond by nervously checking the turn, their suspicion will be "confirmed".

Suppose you bet an 8-high flush on the flop, then check the turn: it looks like you are holding the bare ace of the relevant suit, and switched off when you missed the flush. Or suppose you have A3 and the flop comes 33K: if you bet the flop and check the turn, it suggests you were testing the water with a pocket pair and didn't want action.

If you are last to speak, the risk of checking the turn is that you may be outdrawn on the river. But more often, your hand will remain best and your opponent will be unable to resist betting that river. If you are first to speak, he may actually bet the turn, offering you even more delicious "mistake money".

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