Getting value for your hand is about determining the best way to induce a mistake from your opponent.
Against a calling station, you'd likely bet with the expectation that he'd call with a worse hand. Against an aggressive player, you'd consider playing passively in hopes he might bluff at the pot, as young pro Mike Sowers demonstrated in this hand from the World Poker Tour's $15,000-buy-in Doyle Brunson Five Diamond World Poker Classic at Las Vegas' Bellagio in 2009.
With blinds at $400-$800 plus a $75 ante, Sowers open-raised to $2,000 from the hijack seat with Q-10 offsuit.
"With only four people to go through and all the dead money already in there, queen-10 is a better-than-average hand to open-raise with late to try to steal," said Sowers, who got calls from the player to his left and aggressive pro Antonio Esfandiari in the small blind.
The flop came Q-6-10 rainbow, giving Sowers top two pair. Esfandiari checked. Sowers made it $5,600.
"Once the guy to my left folds and Esfandiari calls, I feel he'll have a pair here or a jack for a draw — like a king-jack or jack-9," said Sowers, who has won more than $1.4 million in tournament prize money. "Because I have top two pair, I initially think he has a draw. He might have bottom set, but I just feel like he has a draw more than he has an actual hand."
The turn came the 10 of spades, giving Sowers 10s full of queens. Esfandiari checked.
"I feel I have the best hand," Sowers said, "and I feel that the only way I'm getting value from the turn is if he has a set of 6s because now that he has draws with a paired board, he's probably going to fold unless he does have second pair.
"I quickly checked behind him. I know Antonio's a really good player, so if he senses any kind of weakness, he's going to try to take stab at the pot, whether he actually has a hand or not."
The river came the 5 of diamonds. Esfandiari bet $10,100.
"It looks like a value bet," Sowers said. "So when I raised (an additional $31,600), I raised a little over three times his bet. He's hardly ever going to call, but by making it a lot more than a standard raise, I can make it look like I'm bluffing and maybe induce a call. If he has a 10 there, there's no way he's going to fold. Most of the time he has a bluff range for me and he might try to make a hero call with ace-jack."
Esfandiari folded, but Sowers still got some extra chips.
"There's not much value in betting the turn in that spot because the only way you're going to get chips is if his draw hits," Sowers said. "So a check on the turn might tempt an aggressive player who either had a busted draw or had made his draw and thought it was the best hand."
Hijack seat: The seat two to the right of the button in a particular betting round.