When you and only one other opponent are all that remains in a hand and you have the favorable position, you may sometimes find yourself in a situation where your table rival attempts to make a blocking bet. A blocking bet is a small bet made by the player acting first in order to try and keep the later position player from making a large bet. In other words, a blocking bet’s purpose is to see the next card or the showdown cheaply. Exploiting the blocking bet is important in situations where you want to protect your hand, and stop your opponent seeing another card cheaply.
In exploiting the blocking bet, your goal is to do exactly what your opponent does not want you to do. You should make a large raise so the player attempting to block gets thwarted in his efforts to see another card at a cheap price. By coming over the top with a raise, your rival will most likely have incorrect pot odds to make the call on what is typically a drawing hand or perhaps a mid-level pair.
Your raise following an attempted blocking bet can be done with or without a strong hand yourself. A raise on a strong hand will be a well-placed value bet. However, if your raise is a bluff or semi-bluff, it will be crucial to know the playing style of your opponent, as well as being reasonably certain that his small bet is aimed at blocking a larger bet on your part.
Examples of blocking bet exploitations
Your opponent calls pre-flop from early position. The rest of the players fold until its your turn to act on the button. Looking at in the hole, you use your position and raise four times the big blind. The blinds fold and your rival calls your raise. A flop of arrives and your opponent comes out betting about 1/3 the size of the pot. You’re wondering if he hit the Jack for top pair or is holding one of the lower cards, or perhaps he is holding two clubs for a flush draw. From observing his betting patterns prior to this hand and the size of this bet being quite small, you can deduce that he is not particularly strong at this stage of the hand and is hoping to improve. The flop totally missed you, but your opponent doesn’t know that. Your choices are to call, raise or fold. A call would accomplish nothing, as you have nothing at this stage of the hand. You could fold and lose only your pre-flop bet. Or you can use your position and make a large raise, exploiting what you decipher as a blocking bet on your opponent’s part.
By making a large raise, there is a strong probability that you can take the pot right here and now by giving your opponent incorrect pot odds to make the call on his flush draw. Again, it’s vital to be familiar with the tendencies of your opponents before exploiting the blocking bet in such a fashion. The size of your opponent’s bet can go a long way in indicating his intentions or the possible strength of his hand. If your opponent had been betting for value, he cartainly would have bet more than 1/3 the pot size.
Let’s look at another scenario. One player limps in before you and you do the same with . The blinds call, leaving four players involved in the hand. A flop of has you looking at an open-ended straight in the last position. The other players check and you bet 3/4 the pot, knocking out the blinds, but getting called by the last player remaining. Your guess is that he paired up. The turn card is the . Your opponent bets 1/2 the pot. You are quite sure that the deuce didn’t help his hand and he is betting on a mid-level pair like 9′s to see the next card cheaply and to also see if you will raise with a strong hand. You decide to raise four times his bet. Sure enough, he folds his cards believing that you had top pair at least. His small blocking bet was made with a mid-level pair hoping to hit two pair or trips on the river. But you used your position wisely and exploited his smallish blocking bet even though he had you beat if he was holding a pair.
Some players may make small bets when acting first even when holding a strong hand to mix up their play and keep you guessing. Thats why it’s important to always be observant of the tendencies of your rivals, even in hands in which you are no longer involved. Remember to observe the playing styles and betting patterns of your opponents to best determine when they are trying to make blocking bets. That way, you will have greater success exploiting their blocking bet attempts.