“Auto-Profit Out of Position” (PRO members only) was just pushed out by coach Adam “W34Z3L” Jones, and our members are on fire about it. It’s a follow-up to his “Auto-Profit in Position” video, but let’s face it, figuring out how to do this out of position is akin to magic.
We’re going to describe a specific spot that comes up a lot in both online and live poker: When you’re heads-up to the flop out of position, you check the flop, and your opponent checks behind.
This lack of a continuation bet screams, “Exploit this spot by betting turn with any two cards!” But you can get into a lot of unprofitable trouble by diving in headfirst without understanding the theory behind when and why this strategy works, how to size your turn bet, and so on. Keep in mind this is only a small part of the whole Auto-Profit OOP video which goes over river spots as well as more complex spots outside of just a check-check flop.
Without further ado, let’s jump right into some game theory around this spot to gain a deeper understanding before pushing chips into a pot on the turn.
“Put a guy like me in a game like that and the cards don’t even matter.” – Mike McDermott, Rounders
Overfolding: When it’s OK
The key concept to understand is that automatic profit in poker comes from other players “overfolding”. This simply means that they aren’t defending enough and are giving up to your aggression too often. And whether their HUD stats indicate it, or their live play patterns confirm it, you will see this happening a lot if you’re paying close attention.
Now, the important thing to understand is that is not always a mistake or a leak to overfold. Let’s let Jones explain why in his own words:
“Let’s imagine that we are the cold-caller out of position against an open raise from our opponent. He opens the button, we decide to cold-call in the blinds. We check the flop to the pre-flop raiser, which is very standard to do, and he fires a continuation bet. In this spot our opponent should likely be able to bet any two cards profitably, which may perhaps go against some of the things you’ve been learning about theoretically optimal play.
You might think, for example, that if our opponent makes a two-thirds-pot bet, it can’t work more than 40% of the time, therefore we must defend at least 60% of our range. But this is a drastic oversimplification of game theory principles.
The fact is, we have a huge disadvantage in this spot. We can’t just use what’s known as the minimum defense formula (sometimes you may have heard of this as the “one minus alpha” formula). We can’t just bang this formula in there and expect to come up with a perfect frequency. We have to take into account other factors.
For example, anytime we’re out of position in poker, we have a very big disadvantage. Our opponent should be able to profit. There’s nothing we can honestly do to stop our opponent from making money when he’s in position. In fact, attempting to use the minimum defense formula in a very basic way… is a very good way of losing money. We have to accept that our opponent has an advantage and we very likely need to tighten up our defending strategy as a result.”
When thinking about optimal game strategy, position is going to be a massive influence on what might otherwise be clear-cut logic.
You must also factor in range advantage. When a player with a stronger range makes an aggressive action versus an opponent with a weaker range, the weaker opponent should theoretically fold to this aggression more often.
The conclusion here is that overfolding is a part of optimal play in situations where a mitigating factor puts you at a big disadvantage. When your opponent is in position, and when they have range advantage, overfolding is going to be the right move much of the time.
Two Types of Auto-Profit
Now you might be starting to see there’s a bit more nuance to the concept of auto-profit. How do you distinguish between a player who’s overfolding optimally, and a player who’s overfolding as a leak? In a word: Frequencies.
Online, you are going to want to look at stats like Fold-to-Cbet or Fold-to-3-Bet. If your opponent’s frequencies indicate they are not defending enough, that indicates they are not playing optimally, and there is a leak to exploit. Live, you might have to go out on more of a limb with sample sizes being low as they are, and try to extrapolate player tendencies based on the totality of actions you’ve observed. In other words, it’s another instance where you need to pay very close attention and pick your spots carefully.
Remember, part of optimal play is overfolding. You’ll be folding too much out of position due to the inherent disadvantage, but the counterbalance is that your opponents will be folding too much when you have position on them. If they defend too wide, you will be able to exploit that. In that sense, there are two types of auto-profit: The first is a standard adjustment to being out of position that balances itself over time, the second is a leak that bursts forth from poorly balanced frequencies.
Turn Probe Bets
You might know of a ‘probe bet’ by its classical definition as a bet to gain information, but that is not what Jones is referring to in his video. There is a newer definition of ‘probe bet’ that is rapidly gaining in popularity. The origin of this definition is in PokerTracker 4, where there are stats describing ‘Probe Turn’ and ‘Probe River’.
That definition is simply that a probe bet is when we bet turn out of position after our opponent skips her flop c-bet in position. As you can see, ‘Probe Turn’ is way easier to say than taking a sentence to describe this action sequence.
The reason a probe bet on the turn makes auto-profit is simple: When a player has a good hand or draw on the flop, they will most often c-bet. Checking back in position on the flop often indicates range disadvantage, or a capped range.
There are exceptions to making an automatic turn bet when it’s checked back to you on the flop, and Jones describes the main one as “non-vulnerable made hands that are not worth two streets of value”. The other exception would be if you have a specific read — after all, not everyone conforms to observed population tendencies.
Otherwise, if you see an indication that their tendency is to overfold in situations where you bet the turn, you can be confident in betting most turns.
Bet Sizing on Turn Probe Bets
Bet sizing is a unique consideration when making turn probe bets. Jones suggests utilizing three different sizings depending on the situation. underbet, regular bet, and overbet.
Underbets are good for protection, regular bets are good for value and bluffs, and overbets are good for strong semi-bluffs — like nut flush and open-ended straight draws — and value from sets, overpairs and other very strong hands.
When you don’t get a fold on the turn, Jones recommends double-barreling as a default play when you don’t have showdown value on the river, and check if we do. Obviously, you’ll want to tailor your plan more closely based on board textures, player types and tendencies, etc. – and these suggestions are starting points, not hard-and-fast rules.
Hopefully by now you’re starting to see why the turn probe bet needs to be in your strategic arsenal. Against players that fail to play optimally in position and/or are overfolding to your aggression, profit is so guaranteed, it’s virtually automatic.
We’ll end with a couple of examples to illustrate this strategy in action:
Go PRO now to watch the ENTIRE video, along with its “In Position” counterpart and our other 100+ hours of poker training material. And of course, good luck with making your own turn probe bets!