Trapping Aggressive Poker Opponents Strategy
Trapping an opponent on the poker table is the direct opposite of bluffing him. Instead of making a large bet to scare him away when your hole cards are marginal or weak, trapping involves checking, calling or making a small bet to show weakness when holding a strong hand. Your timid play is designed to encourage the aggressive player to take a shot at the pot and bet against you. It also can be considered slow-playing.
Successful trapping requires a certain degree of skill in being able to read your table rival, understanding what he may be thinking, and also taking into account what he may think that you are thinking. A well-timed trap can separate an opponent from his entire stack of chips in no-limit Texas Hold’em. An ideal trapping scenario would be holding 9-10 off-suit and calling the pre-flop raise of an aggressive player acting before you. A rainbow flop of J-7-8 gives you a straight and a wonderful opportunity to trap your loose opponent. He makes a continuation bet at least half the size of the pot. You take a few seconds to think it over before flat calling.
A deuce on the turn and Mr. Aggression ups his bet to 3/4 the pot size. After giving appearances of agonizing over the decision, you call once again. An Ace arrives on the river and your opponent makes a pot size bet, to which your raise of double that amount has him believing that he is pot-committed and must call. You have successfully set a trap and extracted a great deal of cash or chips from your aggressive opponent.
Obviously, this is one of the best possible scenarios to a hand and all of your trap attempts won’t be as clear-cut as this. The main point to remember is that traps should be set when your hand cannot be drawn out on by your opponent.
For instance, say you’re holding the same 9-10 and the flop comes A-9-10. Your two pair is very strong at that point but is not a good trapping hand due to the Ace over card and the possibility of another player making a better two pair or even a straight. A bet for value or a check-raise would be more profitable in the long run here because of the drawing possibilities that can beat you.
When Not to Set a Trap
You also don’t want to be trying to set a trap when flush possibilities exist. Take the above example of being dealt 9-10 off-suit as 9h-10s. Suppose the flop of J-7-8 is not rainbow-colored and instead shows two clubs among the three flopped cards such as Jc-7d-8c. You could still flat call the aggressive player’s continuation bet and be working toward the trap with your flopped straight.
However, if the turn card deuce is another club, your trap attempt on this hand should be considered over as a flush possibility is evident and hands in which you can be out drawn are not to be played as trapping hands.
You still have a very strong hand with your straight and should play it accordingly, keeping in mind that two clubs in your opponents hand will beat you. Another club on the river may be a death knell. The point here is that you can be working toward a trap post-flop, but if the board should change so as to allow drawing options following the turn card, your plan of trapping a loose-aggressive player must be aborted.
Trapping is best done against aggressive opponents simply because they are the players most likely to bet and try to buy the pot. More timid or passive players are more likely to check and cannot be counted on to bet and be trapped. Slow-playing against such players may mean missing the opportunity to make a value bet and getting more money into the pot on your strong hand.
That is why it is imperative to have sound knowledge of the playing styles and tendencies of your opponents before embarking on using the trap play. If you are certain an aggressive player will bet after all other players check, you will want to slow-play and trap such a player when holding the nuts or a monster hand that cannot be out drawn.
Novice players sometimes peek at their hole cards to see A-A or K-K and think its a prime opportunity to slow-play and trap other players with this monster starting hand. Nothing could be further from the truth. A-A is the best hand you can be dealt but should never be considered for trapping opponents because there are so many ways to be beaten following the flop, turn and river cards.
Its only one pair and will lose to the smallest of two pair. A-A or other high pocket pairs should be raised pre-flop–and usually heavily–and never to set a trap. The point here is that any traps that you will attempt on opponents must begin post-flop after more information is known on how the hand may possibly play out.
Trapping aggressive players in the right situations should be part of your game plan as a successful poker player. To do so effectively requires knowing the moves your opponents are likely to make in any given hand based on their betting patterns and position at the table.
Trapping should not be attempted when drawing possibilities are available because losing the hand to a player who makes his draw is not a trap at all–its a losing hand.
Don’t attempt trapping passive players, as they may check and foil your planned re-raise. Set your sights on employing trap plays against aggressive players who seem to never let a betting round go by without making a stab at winning the pot by betting. Remember to do so with the nuts or a hand that can’t be drawn out on.
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