How to use the all important ‘feeler bet’ or ‘test bet’
Why it’s important to gather much needed information and how it can help you win lots of pots?
Read poker books available on the market, posts at the forums and the articles available on-line. Get the newsletters and the poker tips from the poker sites as well. They are all crucial to your development as a successful online Texas Holdem Poker player. Any player is successful if he has made more money than he has lost, as simple as that.
A professional plays for a living, but you can play for recreation and competition. You will learn a lot about the game from these venues mentioned above, but most of your knowledge will come from actual game experience. There are some things you have to learn on your own. And one of the most important things to learn this way is the importance of the ‘feeler bet’ or ‘test bet’.
You will not read about it in most books or articles, and you don’t see it talked too much about at forums either. There are some publications that do touch on the subject but they are rare. It is surprising that something so important is disregarded by so many.
What is the feeler bet
The “Feeler bet” is just what it sounds like. It’s a bet you place to get a “feel” of where you stand in the hand. Here is an example:
You are in early position and you get dealt
You make a raise of 4x the BB.
You get 2 callers, the button and the BB.
Now the Flop comes
The BB checks and now its up to you. What do you do?
Players in their early days of playing poker would see the Ace and would automatically assume someone had another Ace (Why else would they call a raise of 4xBB if they didn’t have some good cards, right?). So they would check it to the person on the button. Now its possible someone does have an Ace and its possible they do not. But by checking you are not going to find out.
This is the perfect opportunity to send out that feeler bet.
The BB who was first to act has checked to you. If you check it to the player on the button he may try and steal it. So the best play is to place a feeler bet.
What you are doing is getting a feel of what your opponents may be holding. If your opponent(s) do not have an Ace they will be forced to fold and you will win the pot right there. After all, you were the initial raiser so your opponents may observe your feeler bet as a bet of strength. If they do have an Ace you will get a call or more likely get re-raised depending on their kicker. But the only way to find out is to throw a bet out there and see what happens.
Checking is the worst thing you can do in this scenario. You gain nothing by checking. By checking not only are you allowing your opponents with K’s, Q’s, 2’s, 8’s, or a lower PP to stay in the pot and catch a free card but you have not gained any information as to what your opponent(s) may be holding.
You must bet here. More often than not, because you were the initial raiser, your opponents will be forced to fold their hands unless they have a strong Ace. You will even get some opponents with a weak Ace ( An Ace with a low kicker) to fold their hands.
Now do you see how important the feeler bet is to gaining information and possibly winning the pot uncontested?
You are on the button and you see
You make a standard bet of 3-4x BB.
You get 2 callers.
The flop comes
Both players check it to you… what’s your move?
You could check it and hope for an Ace or a King to hit the turn. But you gain nothing by checking here.
Do they have a Jack or a 5 in their hand? Are they holding 2 hearts? Do they have a PP? The only way to find out is to throw out a bet and see what happens. The best-case scenario is that they will fold and you win the pot right there. What’s wrong with that?
The worst-case scenario is that you get re-raised and probably have to lay down the hand. If they just call, chances are they are drawing to the straight or the flush. If the turn brings a scare card you can easily get away from this pot if one of your opponents bets into you. If no scare card comes chances are it will be checked to you again and you can either try and steal the pot or check it and get a free card on the river.
The two scenarios above show how a feeler bet can be used after the flop. Just note that you can send out a feeler bet on the turn or even on the river too. The feeler bet does not have to be a bet, it can be a raise to an opponent who has already bet. Its just a bet to find out where you stand in the hand. And sometimes, (more often than not) you will win the pot just by putting one out there.