Orphan Pots: Yours for the Taking?
It happens all the time; in fact, it’s probably happened to you very recently. You’re in a poker hand with more than one other player, the flop comes out, and nobody bets. These are called orphan pots, and like the name suggests, it’s as if nobody wants all that money in the middle of the table. Somebody needs to give these orphan pots a home. That somebody should be you.
Generally speaking, an aggressive approach will help you take down more than your fair share of these orphan pots. You can bluff more often with fewer outs to back you up in case anyone calls you on the turn. And in many cases, you can double-barrel the river with complete air. It’s not a move you want to make 100 percent of the time, though. Let’s take a closer look at these orphan pots and see which ones you should adopt.
In most multi-way pots, someone will start things off by open-raising. Two or more people will call – often including the big blind, since she’s getting good pot odds. Then the flop will come out, and the two callers will check to the original raiser. What would prevent that person from making a continuation bet?
There are a number of possibilities, but the most likely answer is that the flop missed his hand. It could be a static flop with not a lot of help for anyone, like Queen-Seven-Deuce rainbow. Or it could be a dynamic flop that’s more likely to help the players who called. Let’s say he opened from under the gun and the flop came out Seven-Six-Five with two diamonds. A c-bet here would be asking for trouble.
If you’re one of the two callers in this situation, and the flop was static, there’s a very good chance you can scoop up that orphan pot with a bet on the turn. However, pay close attention to that turn card. If it’s an Ace, or maybe even a King, that card might be good for the original raiser. The further away that person is from the button, the more you have to worry about scare cards.
Now let’s say the flop is dynamic. If you’re first to act, you might want to bluff a bit less often here, since the flop may have hit the other caller’s range – and he was waiting to unload a giant check-raise if the original raiser had thrown out a c-bet. But if he checks for a second time, it’s more likely that he doesn’t have anything, and you can go ahead and fire. Again, though, watch out for scare cards.
Did you get called on the turn? Don’t panic. If it was just one caller, you can often take down that orphan pot with another bet on the river, provided no scare cards hit the board. Following through with that double-barrel is key. It won’t work every time, but if you do it right, it should work more often than not. Keep track of these situations at the table and see how well you’re doing with orphan pots. Practice makes perfect.