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Every edge you can get on your opponent in Texas Holdem can help you come out on top at the end, and this is where blockers come in.
In short, a blocker is a card in your hand or on the board that prevents your opponent from connecting any hand containing that card.
Blockers can make a significant difference, and professional poker players use blockers to boost their success all the time. If you want to learn how to use them effectively, remember these three tips:
Blockers Can Make Your Preflop Decisions Easier
Figuring out and constructing your preflop ranges can be difficult. To make this process easier, you can use some hands to block your opponent’s value range. By choosing a hand that has strong blocking potential, you’ll be more likely to get through with your bluff.
Let’s put this into a direct example. As there are only four aces in a deck, the number of potential combinations that include an ace significantly reduces for your opponent if you get one.
Only one ace in your hand minimizes the chance of your opponent having pocket aces by 50%. How powerful is that?
That said, sometimes your opponent still might end up having these hands, but the probability is much lower. So if you want to add 3-bet or 4-bet bluffs in your range, make sure to use proper hands with Ax or Kx to block the strongest hands in your opponent’s value range and reduce the possibility for them to have it.
By focusing on this method, in the long run, you can maximize your win rate and rake in pots that you’ve been missing out on before.
Blockers Can Aid You in Reading Your Opponent’s Bluffs
Regardless of whether you are playing online poker with friends or battling it out in a casino, reading through your opponent’s bluff is a vital component for being successful at poker. On top of that, it is always fun to catch someone bluffing, and this is another spot where blockers can be really handy.
Sometimes, your opponent will try to bluff you by representing a hand you know he does not have. Holding a blocker allows you to be sure they can’t have what they’re representing and can help you pick off their bluff. If that is the case, you can call them down relatively light in these situations.
This is especially useful if you find yourself in a tight spot and need to determine your opponent’s range before calling. It’s important to note that sometimes it can also help you decide on folding a stronger hand because it lacks the necessary removal effects.
If you are holding the card in your hand that is one of the very few likely bluffs that your opponent could be having, leaning towards a fold can turn out to be a lifesaving decision in the long run.
They Can Add Value to Your Bluffs
Not only can blockers be an effective defensive weapon, but they can also help you make creative bluffs yourself. Noting your situation, you can take advantage of the information you hold to boost your odds. Such a strategy is beneficial if you find yourself on the river with a card that lacks any significant showdown value but is perfect for a bluff because of it’s blocking features.
Like always, it is easier to illustrate this with an example. If you are holding an Ace of spades on a three spades board and your opponent raises you on the river, you might consider moving all-in as a bluff because you know he/she does not have the nuts since you are holding the key card. Of course, you should consider the hand’s overall betting action to see if he/she can reasonably have a strong hand. Even if he/she does, your opponent will have a tough time calling you down without the nuts.
When it comes to using a blocker card to bluff, it’s also vital to know your opponent’s tendencies, as not every player will bite down on the bluff, even if you’re bluffing in a great spot. This is paramount, as you never want to overestimate your blocker card’s significance and make decisions based only on that.
A Quick Sum Up on Blockers in Poker
To summarize this feature, you shouldn’t base your entire game on blockers. This is because they don’t always guarantee that the opponent can’t have the hand your card is blocking, only that it’s less likely that they have it.
The key takeaway to keep in mind is that you should ideally try and mix these tips into your general poker habits to boost your success, but always consider other factors as well.
About the Author
Tadas Peckaitis is a professional poker player, author, and poker coach at mypokercoaching.com. He writes for a range of online publications and helps other poker players to excel. If you are looking to up your game or find exciting information about poker, you can follow him on Twitter and Facebook.