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3 “Top Secret” Plays Poker Pros Have Been Hiding From You

The title of this article is a bit of an exaggeration, but the plays you’re about to learn are certainly secret compared to common tips like…

Just play tight, pick your spots, and bet big when you have it.

This kind of straightforward “ABC poker” advice may be enough to make money in a soft live $1/$3 game, but it won’t be enough if you want to make some serious dough in poker.

The pros that truly crush poker occasionally get creative and take their opponents to parts of the game tree that they aren’t familiar with.

To exemplify this, today’s article will showcase 3 unintuitive plays from Upswing Lab coach Tim Jenkins (featuring analysis from Tim himself).

Tim is an expert player who crushes tough online cash games. Here’s his graph:

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You’re in good hands with Tim.

Let’s dive in.

Note: Members of the Upswing Lab can watch the hands and full Play & Explain video here.

Play #1: Overbetting With a Straight on the Board

500NL Zoom. Tim is dealt A J on the Button. 105bb effective stacks.

Cutoff raises 2.5bb. Tim calls. Big Blind 3-bets to 12bb. Cutoff folds. Tim calls.

Flop (26.15bb): 6♣ 5♣ 4♠
Big Blind checks. Tim checks.

Turn (26.15bb): 8♠
Big Blind checks. Tim checks.

River (26.15bb): 7
Big Blind checks. Tim bets 39.22bb. Big Blind folds.

Preflop Analysis

Ace-Jack suited can be played as a 3-bet or call from the Button when faced with a Cutoff open. Once Tim calls, the Big Blind 3-bets, and the Cutoff folds, he has an easy call.

It is worth noting that Tim has a fairly defined, capped range here that includes pocket pairs, some suited connectors, and (mostly suited) high card hands like the one he has.

Flop Analysis

“We get a low and connected board texture. These are great for the in-position player. Our range is weighted a lot towards pocket pairs, some suited connectors, and some suited broadways. Whereas the out-of-position player is way more weighted towards overcards.”

“That being said, Pocket Tens or better are really strong for out-of-position, so they can use really big bets on the flop. Ace-Jack specifically doesn’t make much sense to bet once we are checked to.

When we bet, here, we would use a small size like we would use with Pocket Sevens or Pocket Eights for protection. When we bet with a small size, our opponent’s Ace-King and Ace-Queen will mostly continue whereas the weaker hands that Ace-Jack dominates will mostly fold. So, it doesn’t make sense to bet Ace-Jack, specifically.”

Turn Analysis

“We didn’t bet all of our pairs on the flop because we didn’t want all of our range to be so specific to Ace-high hands like ours. We’re mixing our pairs on the flop. On the turn, we are checking some of them and betting some of them. It looks a lot scarier than it actually is in this spot.”

River Analysis

My bet size was wrong. I should have gone all-in.

The idea is that the optimal sizing decreases when the straight becomes more common in the ranges. When it’s a board straight and the higher straight is uncommon, you can actually just go all-in at this sort of stack-to-pot ratio (SPR). It sounds crazy, but you can jam a bunch when you have a 9 occasionally, and quite a lot when you don’t have a 9.

It’s quite rare that either player will have a 9 after this action. The only way the out-of-position player can have a 9 is if they have T9 or J9 that decided to check turn with the intention of check-raise bluffing. In position, I would have had to check Pocket Nines twice, which is pretty unlikely.”

Even though Tim will rarely have a 9, he’s the last player to act and thus has the last opportunity to bluff at the pot, which he successfully pulls off with a 1.5x pot overbet — though he prefers a 3.5x pot all-in overbet in retrospect.

Note: Learn step-by-step how to become the best player at the table when you join the Upswing Lab training course. Winning poker pros have been adding new content every week for the past seven years, and you get all of it when you join. Learn more now!

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Play #2: Betting Extremely Small On Monotone Flops in 3-Bet Pots

500NL Zoom. Tim is dealt K♣ 6♣ in the Big Blind. 105bb effective stacks.

Cutoff raises 2.2bb. Tim 3-bets to 9.5bb. Cutoff calls.

Flop (19.2bb): Q T 2
Tim bets 2.88bb. Cutoff folds.

Preflop Analysis

Faced with an open from the Cutoff, K6-suited can be played as either a call or 3-bet “bluff” from the Big Blind.

K6s is pretty nice hand to 3-bet bluff with preflop because the K blocks strong hands (like and ) and the 6 unblocks many of the weakest hands in your opponent’s raising range (such as and ) that will fold to the 3-bet. Plus, K6s has solid playability when called.

Flop Analysis

“On this sort of monotone texture, you can c-bet a high frequency for a small size like 15%. K6-suited is good to bet because a lot of the auto-folds from your opponent are hands like Ax-suited without the flopped flush. Whereas it’s actually pretty hard for them to have a hand with a King that folds to a small bet like this — because most of their Kx hands will have a pair or draw (KQ, KJ, KT). We can kind of just range bet this board and this bet size puts a lot of the Cutoff’s marginal and bad hands in a tough spot.”

Risking just 2.88bb to win 19.2bb and getting the fold…that’s a pretty efficient bluff!

Top Secret Play #3: Check-Raise-Bluffing Bottom Pair After Calling a 3-Bet

500NL Zoom. Tim is dealt 8♣ 7♣ in the Hijack. 101.5bb effective stacks.

Tim raises 2.5bb. Button 3-bets to 8.5bb. Tim calls.

Flop (17.9bb): A♣ 9♠ 8
Tim checks. Button bets 5.01bb. Tim raises to 13.96bb. Button calls.

Turn (45.82bb): J♣
Big Blind checks. Tim checks.

River (45.82bb): Q♠
Big Blind checks. Tim bets 13.74bb. Big Blind folds.

Preflop Analysis

87-suited is a standard raise from the Hijack. Faced with a Button 3-bet, 87-suited can be called or folded — it’s very close and you should mix between the two if you’re trying to play a theoretically optimal preflop range.

Flop Analysis

“87-suited is a hand that makes a great check-raise. We block Pocket Eights if he ever 3-bets that. We have five outs to two pair to beat a hand like Ace-Queen or Ace-King.

You want to check-raise quite linearly because if they are betting a lots of underpairs, you prefer to make life for those hands more difficult.

On this board, we’ll be raising hands like Ace-Queen, sets, 87-suited, and straight draws.” 

Turn Analysis

“On this turn [which gives us a flush draw], you want to consider how your main value hands want to be played. I think our Ace-Queen wants to be checking. It’s not worth much more value vs. our opponent’s calling range so you want to play it like showdown value.

There are still a lot of Ace-King and Ace-Queen in the opponent’s range, so I think you generally want to get all-in here with Pocket Nines and Pocket Eights. With those sets, I’d barrel for roughly half pot pretty often.

With , betting half pot doesn’t feel right. If we bet half pot and get jammed on, it’s just really awkward. I think checking with the intention of check-jamming is really good. We might even fold out some bigger flush draws by doing so.”

River Analysis

“On the river, I think our opponent has a lot of Ace-King in this line. So, I think we’ll want to block bet with Ace-Queen since it’s a big part of our range. We’ll also have some Tx for the straight.

I think 87-suited is a pretty clear bluff. It’s one of our only bluffs and it’s hard to find worse. I think a block sizing makes sense.”

Another efficient river bluff from Tim brings us to the end of this article.

Final Thoughts

There you have it: 3 sick plays from poker pro Tim Jenkins that you can add to your arsenal.

If you want in-depth lessons from Tim, plus the chance to watch him play and explain his strategy, join the Upswing Lab training course! Tim has created 3 modules exclusively for Lab members with many more on the way. Add expert strategies to your game today!

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