Is The Baluga Theorem Still Valid In Today’s Game?

Is the Baluga Theorem still valid in today's game? Find out at uspokersites

Poker is a game that constantly evolves. Optimal strategies change rapidly as expert players delve into the math. Some theories withstand the test of time, however. Is the Baluga Theorem one of them?

The Baluga Theorem came about some time in 2006. Andrew Seidman, a high stakes professional player and coach devised the theory. Seidman called himself “BalugaWhale” when playing online poker, hence the Baluga Theorem title.

Seidman coached with online poker training site Deuces Cracked and it is here where he came up with his simple yet effective theory.

“You should strongly re-evaluate the strength of one-pair hands in the face of a raise on the turn.”

Let’s work through an example to see the Baluga Theorem in action.

A Baluga Theorem Example

We are in a $1/$2 No-Limit Hold’em cash game and are first to act. We look down at As-Ks and raise to $8. An opponent in late position calls and the flop falls Ah-9d-4c. This is a pretty good flop for us having flopped top pair top kicker.

A continuation-bet is in order so we fire a bet of $10 and our opponent calls. The turn being the 7d into play. It is quite a harmless card, but it does put a flush draw on the board. It’s important to bet here for two reasons. Extracting more value from a weaker hand and protecting our hand from our opponent chasing their flush.

Betting three-quarters pot is a good size here. The pot weighs in at $39 right now so we bet $30. This bet should take the pot down but our opponent raises to $80. What on Earth do we do now?

This raise has put us in an awful spot. We have a relatively strong hand of top pair top kicker and thought we were ahead. Our opponent’s raise, however, has flipped this hand on its head.

Ask yourself this question: what does our hand beat based on how our opponent has played the hand? Very little, if anything, is the answer.

Re-Evaluating Our Hand

Now is the time to re-evaluate our holding. Is our opponent raising the turn here with anything less than top pair? The simple answer is now unless they are a complete maniac.

What type of hands play this way? Pocket aces are unlikely because we weren’t re-raised preflop, plus we have one of the remaining three aces in our hand. Kings are unlikely too because there was no three-bet. Also, would kings raise the turn after seeing us bet the flop and turn? Almost certainly not.

No big pair plays like this, which leaves us with hands that crush us and draws. It’s risky playing a flush draw fast in this spot. Our opponent is better off calling our turn bet and hoping to hit the flush on the turn. An ace of diamonds on the river would be the gin card for our opponent because we’re never getting away from trips if he puts us on that.

This leaves us with hands that have us beaten or even crushed. 9x-7x for a turned two pair is possible. Sets of fours, sevens, or nines are more likely and we’re drawing dead.

A fold is the best play in this hand. Let go of your hand, make a note on your opponent, and chalk it up to experience.

Is This Theorem Valid Today?

This theorem is definitely still valid in today’s game, even in the online poker world where strategies move on. Always re-evaluate your holdings when you’re raised on the turn because you’re likely beat.

The Baluga Theorem is a great bluffing tool against a thinking player, too. Raising the turn against a solid player in the above example would probably force a fold. We could make that raise with a pretty wide range of hands. Imagine having pocket eights or tens here and turning it into a bluff. It would be a profitable play against a decent opponent.

Matthew Pitt

If it’s something you can play online for real money, chances are Matthew knows a bit about it. He’s been writing about slots, craps and poker for the better part of the last decade. He’s written for PokerNews, PartyPoker and many other respected online gambling websites during the last nine years.


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