Exploiting the Weak Lead

A "weak lead" involves leading on the turn against a player who made a continuation bet on the flop.

Now, I'm sure you're thinking to yourself "uh....that's just donk betting"....and, you're right.  It is donk betting.

It used to be seen that donk betting, or breaking betting flow was something that was done by amateur.  But, as poker continues to evolve, it's been found that donk betting in the right situations can be hugely profitable.

Today we're going to examine what a weak lead is, why it works, when you should avoid it, and how to deal with a raise from your opponent.

What is a weak lead?

A weak lead is when you bet the turn after you checek-called a flop continuation bet.  This will be most common when you're in the big and small blinds.  It's HUGELY important to remember this particular context so this play makes sense.  The weak lead isn't a play you want to make in multiway or three bet pots.

It's also important to find the right spots for the weak lead.  The most profitable spot is when the lowest or second lowest card on the flop pairs on the turn.  As an example, the flop is [9x][4x][2x] and the turn is [4x] or [2x].  When you get a turn card that pairs the lower cards, you're in a perfect spot to use the weak lead.

Why do weak leads work?

The reason this is an effective play, is because your opponent is very often going to check behind when the turn card pairs one of the bottom two cards.  The reason the original bettor checks back so often in this spot is that you, the player who just called on the flop after checking, is far more likley to have bottom or middle pair in your range.

Leading on the turn with most, or even all, of your range may feel unbalanced bu tit also lets you extract maximum value from your entire range.

Seriously, this play is like a cheat code in Super Mario Brothers.  Opponents just don't know how to deal with it because they see it so rarely, and the times they have seen it the person making the lead usually hit trips.

When not to weak lead

There are two main things to look for which should make you avoid the weak lead when the turn pairs either of the bottom two cards

1) If your opponent is likely to be continuation betting his bottom or middle pairs.  A common strategy in tournament poker is to make small continuation bets with a wide range on the flop.  If you think your opponent falls into this category, avoid the weak lead because it's far more likely they will have made trips.

2) If you think your opponent is likely to three bet.  While it's unlikely that your opponent will be betting the turn with cards that are better for your range, that doesn't mean it won't happen.  If you think your opponent is likely to take the super aggressive route, avoid the weak lead and simply check your made hands and look to put in a raise.

What if my opponent raises?

Getting raised on a card that helps your range is uncommon, but not impossible.  If you're facing a raise look to do the following:

1) Reraise with your best hands
2) Call with weak trips and full houses for more value on the river
3) Call with good pocket pairs and hands that have a lot of equity like combo draws
4) Fold your weakest hands like ace high

Summary

A strong leading range in the right spot has been quietly used by top pros for years.  Add it to your game, and when these spots come up at the table you'll see your win rate improve!

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