The Nearly Infallible Under-Over Line for No-Limit Hold’em
At sports betting, there’s this thing called an over-under line. One feature of betting the “over” at sports is that if the game goes over, it’s over. You won your bet, and the rest of the game doesn’t matter. At no-limit hold’em, I have this thing I call the under-over line. It’s a line of betting that starts with an underbet, followed quickly by an overbet. And then it’s over. At least for me.
Here’s how it works. I bet the minimum possible bet on the flop (that’s the under) and then I make a bet on the turn that is bigger than the pot (that’s the over). I’ve made this play about 15 times so far. The first few times, it happened spontaneously, as the result of experiments I was conducting with small bets. Then I put some deliberation into it, and I started doing it deliberately.
I found one spot for it that is safe, fun, and profitable. And it’s a lovely way to say, “I’m not you.”
If the pot is unraised, and it’s a rainbow flop, widely scattered, such as K-8-3, Q-7-2, J-4-4 – in other words, if there are no possible flush draws or straight draws – then I am very likely to unsheathe the under-over line on the flop.
Most deployments have been in $5-10 blinds no-limit hold’em games where the main denomination is $10 chips. The next largest chip in play is $100. These chip denominations are perfect for doing the under-over line with grace. That’s not to say that it couldn’t be done in any no-limit game, whether an internet tournament, an internet cash game, a live tournament, or a live cash game. It can. It just so happens that playing $5/10, with $10 chips in play, the whole maneuver can be performed with just two chips.
Here’s how it goes. The pot is $30 to $70, all limpers. The flop comes. I have no pair and no draw. I bet one $10 chip.
If anyone raises, I fold, and I plot deviously to exploit what just happened in future hands.
If anyone calls…
– and yes, sometimes I’ll bet $10 into a $50 pot with absolutely nothing, and then watch them all fold, and when that happens, it’s usually a funny moment when the action gets to the last man folding -
If anyone calls, I often get a sense for if they are calling because my bet was small and goofy looking, or if they are calling because they have something. Sometimes a guy will look like he is folding, with, say, a small pocket pair, or ace-high, and then he realizes how tiny and silly the bet is, so he calls. Other times, I get a hunch that someone is calling with nothing in order to leave open the option of stealing the pot on the turn. And then there’s times when I know they have something – top pair, or second pair, or maybe a cloaked AA – from how they play and act and are.
In all of those cases, all I’m looking for is an answer to one question: Do I think they will fold to a $100 bet on the turn? Usually the answer is yes, so usually, as soon as the turn card hits the table, I bet $100, using one black chip. Sometimes I toss it, sometimes I place it, and sometimes I keep a $100 chip hidden under my palm, for times just like this, and I use my thumb to zing it ten inches so that it magically appears in the betting area.
I like to explore rare and exotic betting islands. I just never know what I might find there. Sometimes barren wastelands, other times bountiful abundance. The payoff comes after I become one with the landscape of a new island. After I learn where all the best spots are. It is then that I lure my opponents onto my peaceful shore, while I wait in ambush ready to slay them!