McHaffie: MCU lesson 046 / Hanging opponents


Note: Not at the old Poker1 site. A version of this entry was first published in Poker Player newspaper in 2005.

This is part of a series by Diane McHaffie. She wasn’t a poker player when she began writing this series. These entries chronicle the lessons given to her personally by Mike Caro. Included in her remarkable  poker-learning odyssey are additional comments, tips, and observations from Mike Caro.

Diane McHaffie index.

Diane McHaffie is Director of Operations at Mike Caro University of Poker, Gaming, and Life Strategy. She has traveled the world coordinating events and seminars in the interest of honest poker. You can write her online at diane@caro.com.


Diane McHaffie

Lessons from MCU

— With bonus content by Mike Caro (pending) —

Lesson 46: Hanging your opponents

Mike says that opponents who aren’t easy to maneuver, who are forceful, unpredictable, who raise unexpectedly, and bet with weak hands in an attempt to control the game should be allowed to hang themselves. He allows those players to do the betting even if he has good hands. He doesn’t want to scare them off with a raise, if they’re betting on a weak hand or bluffing. If he’s the first to act, he’ll just check.

Before Mike uses this strategy on his opponents he considers whether they are liberal callers and whether they are predictable or unpredictable. If the opponent is predictable, then Mike will usually bet semi-strong hands, because he’ll make most of his profit from weak calls. If the opponent isn’t predictable, Mike’s going to allow the player to hang himself.

Extra rope

Mike will allow his opponent some extra rope when he checks, allowing the player to bet. Then Mike will call. Mike says that’s the “signature of my style of poker.”

When playing no-limit, Mike will use this technique repeatedly against an opponent who is too feisty. Another thing to keep in mind in no-limit poker is how probable it is that your opponent will call bets of various sizes? That’s why no-limit is much more complex than limit. With no-limit, the size of the bet isn’t established in advance as it is in limit. You can move all-in in no-limit. Or you can bet the minimum – or anything in between.

Mike says, “I believe that the ideal bet size for most hands against most opponents averages less than the size of the pot, despite the common wisdom that the pot should be the most normal bet size.”

For example, if you hold a very strong hand in a no-limit game and your opponent is an unpredictable guy that is rather feisty with $3,000 in chips, facing a $2,000 pot, and has checked to you on the final betting round, how much are you going to bet?

Mike says that he would usually bet about $750, because he thinks there’s a good possibility that the player has a rather weak hand and isn’t an exceptionally loose caller. He’s a lively player, so give him a chance to hang himself by raising you. A $750 bet could possibly do that.

Important things

Below is a list of some of the important things that can happen when using the hanging strategy. Mike has kindly provided this list for your educational purposes.

  1. My opponent might have a weak hand and will call, hoping that I’m bluffing.
  2. My opponent might have a weak hand and will fold.
  3. My opponent might have a strong or semi-strong hand that he sandbagged and will raise.
  4. My opponent might have a semi-strong hand that he sandbagged and will decide to just call at the last second, meaning I probably could have made more money by betting more.
  5. My opponent may have a hopeless hand and decide that he has a good chance of bluffing by using his remaining $2,250 that I didn’t bet.

Desperate raise

If your opponent has a strong or semi-strong hand you should probably bet the maximum. By doing this you give your opponent, who may hold a weak hand, a chance to make a small call, hoping that you’re bluffing, whereas he might not have called a larger bet with that hand.

Mike says this is the most important fact to remember. “You’re giving your opponent a chance to hang himself with a desperate raise of his last $2,250 with a garbage hand with which he wouldn’t even have called $750 – if that were all he had. That last possibility, the biggest of all hangings, is the one that makes this $750 underbet profitable.”

Mike says once you understand how this strategy works, you’ll discover how profitable it can be for you. I think it also sounds like a fun way to make a profit. — DM

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