David Sklansky has been one of the first to talk about block bets, dedicating exclusive space to talk about them and popularizing a term in the recent poker glossary.

The blocking bets are those bets that are made on the river to go to the showdown at a lower price. Although they can also be made on the flop and on the turn, it is rarer to see them in these phases because they are a more than interesting bridge to take you to the final showdown reducing the amount of money it will cost you to achieve it.

Block bet in poker: what you need to know

The block bet in poker is a fabulous tool to keep the pot under control. Although it is clear that, for many players, mostly recreational ones, poker is mere entertainment, for many others it is an important source of income. Therefore, minimizing the impact of getting to showdown is essential in these cases, and for the most competitive players a blocker bet makes much more sense in poker.

Why is it called a “blocker”? A blocker bet is a bet that blocks the actions of the opponents, just as a blocker card does the same with the hand. And how did this type of bets come about? Well, in an attempt to improve the tools available to get to the showdown. It is one of those strategic loopholes that can be developed to improve the player’s chances.

A blocking bet is usually a small bet that is made OOP, that is, out of position. Typically, players opt for a blocker bet in poker when they are the first to talk, to pay less for their access to the showdown, or when they want to bet with some caution. Normally, a blocker bet in a poker game does not exceed 33% of the pot.

We said before that one of the keys to block bets was to keep the pot under control. This is achieved by keeping the pot small and minimizing the risks in the plays. It is a good resource when you are struggling to get something clear about the opponent’s game. If you find yourself unable to predict future plays, a block bet can be an excellent idea.

Imagine for a moment that you are on the river; you have a middle hand and you are the first to speak. Too many risks and too few things clear. The villain, if he reads your situation well, will push you to the showdown. Since you don’t have a very strong hand, he will make you lose. On the other hand, with a blocking bet, you will be able to keep the pot small by inducing your opponent to call instead of raise. In addition, thanks to the block bet you will be able to see the river card at a lower cost.

How does a block bet influence a poker game?

There are several advantages of using a block bet in a poker game. It can allow you to save money, improve your winrate in the long run and be an important shield when you have a marginal hand.

But, like everything else, the key is balance. If you abuse blocking bets you will soon give yourself away, and when you do them for real, they will lose their effect. I’m sure you now understand why it’s one of the most popular terms in the poker glossary today.

What you get at the end of the game with a block bet is not to go bad. You will end up with the second-best hand and it won’t have cost you too much money. The goal is to minimize damage, so mission accomplished. But you should also resort to block bets when you have the best hand to take care of the image you project to your opponents, otherwise you will be caught quickly.

If a player has raised preflop and then checked twice. If you expect to be called by high hands, a block bet can be useful.

Another scenario: a player raises preflop, c-bets on the flop and checks on the turn. It could happen that the BB expects to be called as well. Here a block bet fits very well.

When to make a block bet

In essence, block bets can allow you to control the pot in uncertain situations. Limiting damage from powerful raises is a good way to reduce the impact that a bad play can have on your stack, so let’s recap when it’s wise for you to resort to a block bet:

  • When you have a medium hand on the river and want to see the card at a reduced price.
  • When you want to play cautiously.
  • When you want to reduce damage and the goal is to end up being the second-best hand.
  • When you want to control the pot and avoid being raised.
  • When you don’t have a good hand and you want to avoid the pot to bleed you.
  • When you have the best hand and you want to mislead your opponents to avoid being x-rayed.