Not nearly enough people know about the blocking bet as a tactical move – this is a travesty that is about to be rectified! The blocking bet is essentially a tool used by one player on the River that will prohibit his opponent from making a larger, unmatchable, or unwinnable bet. This can be used in two ways – it can be used to persuade your opponent to fold, but most commonly it will be used to save your self from a larger bet. Thus, if you have an absolutely fantastic hand, then this is not a strategy that you should be using; however, if you find yourself in a position, that we all have, where you don’t want to go too deep on a mediocre hand, this is a great little “get out of jail free” card for you; this is how it works.
Let’s say you find yourself with an okay hand, maybe a pair with a good kicker, and a pair on the board. Your opponent should be somewhat worried because there’s a pair showing and you’ve been betting hard and tough. What you want to do now is strengthen any thoughts that your opponent may have as to how good your hand is. You’re not sure that it’s so good, and so safe play would be to check, but this shows weakness and may encourage a bluff so that’s not a possibility. Folding is not an option at this stage – simply no reason to. Thus your only option is to bet. However, you now need your bet to not be raised because you may well not want to call a larger bet. This is where your blocking bet comes in. You must bet enough that your opponent would simply be foolhardy to raise it. You don’t want to make it too high, incase it is raised and they you end up in the long run loosing more should you not have the best hand. Therefore you blocking bet must show power and strength, maybe enough to encourage your opponent to fold, whilst also doing damage limitation for yourself should your hand not be the best. Should your opponent not fold, and should you have the stronger hand, you will have successfully have increased your winnings by a medium range bet whereas a bigger one, which would have surely scared him off would have resulted in a smaller pot for you.
The blocking bet is a fantastic tool; however it should be used with care. If for example you find yourself wanting to use it against somebody who has usually been playing tightly, you might want to reconsider. A player like this is less likely to be bluffing and so by all means use the block to limit your losses, but don’t think of it as a tool for winning. On the other hand, if you are up against somebody who is very loose or very aggressive this move may well end up backfiring. Hence, the bet block should be used with care and consideration.