Using a trap play is the opposite of a bluff, and trapping aggressive players takes a few key skills to avoid losing more than you win. Rather than putting forth a large bet in an effort to scare your opponent away when you’re holding weak or mediocre cards, trapping consists of checking, calling a bet, or making just a small bet to feign weakness when you actually have a strong hand. Your passive play is designed to entice aggressive players to make bets and try to buy or steal the pot due to your display of weakness. In effect, it is slow-playing your hand in order to maximise value from your opponent.
A successful trap play requires skill in reading your opponents and anticipating what they may be thinking and what move will most likely be made following your action at the table. A well-played trap can force an opponent into losing his entire chip stack playing no-limit Texas Hold ‘Em. An ideal scenario of a trapping play would consist of being dealt and calling a pre-flop raise of a noticeably aggressive player who bets in front of you. A flop of arrives to give you a straight and a perfect opportunity to trap your aggressive table rival. His continuation bet is about half the pot size, allowing you to begin setting the trap by making a flat call after thinking about it for a few seconds. A appears on the turn and Mr. Aggressive is still hoping to push you off the pot and bets 3/4 the size of the pot. Using your acting skills, you take a bit of time to agonize over the situation, once again calling the other player’s bet. The is flipped on fifth street and your aggressive opponent comes in with a bet that’s nearly the size of the pot. You commence to raise about double the amount of his bet. At this point, Mr. Aggressive feels he is pot-committed and decides to make the call. You pulled off a successful trap over your aggressive opponent and managed to extract a hefty amount of chips in doing so.
Of course, this example is one of the all-time best possible situations you would want to face and not all of your attempts at trapping will be as cut and dry as this. Flopping a straight with no possibility of your opponent making a flush or full house following the flip of the river card is about as good as it gets. The main point to keep in mind is that setting a trap should not be attempted when your opponent has drawing options in the hand. For instance, what if your hole cards of saw a flop of . Your two pair after the flop is very strong, but is not an ideal hand to trap with because of the overcard Ace and the possibility of an opponent catching a higher two pair or possibly a straight. In that case, betting for value or check-raising post-flop would be more advisable due to the drawing possibilities available to your opponent.
Also, you shouldn’t try a trap play when the board is showing flush possibilities. Suppose you’re holding the same hole cards of , but the flop is not showing the rainbow colors of the first example, but is . You still flopped a straight and can work toward a trap by flat calling your opponent’s continuation bet. However, suppose the turn card is the . There are now three hearts on the board and any plans of trapping must be aborted because of the flush draw possibilities. Traps cannot be set or attempted with draw options available to your opponent. Your straight is still strong and should be played as such, remaining cognizant of the fact that two hearts in the hand of your opponent will give him a flush and beat your flopped straight. Another heart on the river may be disastrous, as you have no hearts in your hand. The point is that you can begin to set a trap post-flop, but if circumstances should change that would allow your opponent to possibly outdraw you after the turn card is revealed, the hand is no longer one in which a trap play should be attempted.
Trapping works best against aggressive players because they have a tendency to not let a round go by without taking a stab at winning the pot by betting. You cannot count on passive players to bet, so should not attempt to trap them. They may check and cause you to lose out on making a value bet and allow them to get a free card and possibly outdraw you without paying for it. In other words, passive players are less likely to fall victim to the trap. That is the reason why knowing the playing styles of your table rivals is crucial before attempting trap plays. If you’re sure that an aggressive opponent will bet if other players have checked, you would be well-advised to trap said aggressive player while holding the nuts or a killer hand that has no chance of being outdrawn.
Rookies sometimes think that a high pocket pair such as or is an excellent opportunity to set a trap and get more money into the pot. Although pocket Aces is the best starting hand, it should never be used to trap other players because there are a multitude of ways to get beat after the complete board is revealed. Its just one pair and is easy prey to only two pair. Extremely high pairs in the hole should be raised heavily pre-flop and never be used as the basis for a trap play. The main point being that trap attempts must commence post-flop when more information is available as to how the hand will play itself out. Never begin trapping pre-flop.
Trapping aggressive opponents under the right circumstances should be a part of your arsenal as a winning poker player. Effectively employing the trap play requires a knowledge of the tendencies of your table rivals and being able to anticipate the moves they may make. Do not attempt traps pre-flop or when your opponent has drawing options available to him. Also, passive players can easily foil your trap attemps by failing to bet. Stick to trapping those aggressive opponents who seemingly never allow a betting round to be completed without taking a shot at winning the pot by making a bet. A successful trap can do wonders for your bankroll.