The Baluga Theorem – Are You Correctly Applying It?

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The Baluga Theorem When it comes to poker everything is very situational and player dependant. Although there are ideas and concepts that support a possible theory, and anyone who wants to improve their poker game can learn these, it’s important you don’t follow these rules religiously since it can lead to misapplying poker thinking. Take every situation for what it is and ALWAYS trust your reads.

Don’t overthink the situation too much because when self-doubt creeps in it will lead to bad decisions. Just because some poker book states a certain strategy or play was the correct decision to make for a specific situation, doesn’t mean it applies to a similar scenario you may encounter. It’s something you should be mindful of, but so many other factors come into play.

Below is an example of a hand where I was getting good odds to call the turn raise to give you some understanding of when not to misapply the Baluga Theorem.

One poker theory involves the Baluga Whale Theorem. It’s a rather silly sounding name for a poker theory, how can you take a white whale seriously, but a concept in poker you should have a deep understanding of nonetheless.

About Baluga Theorem

The Baluga Theorem basically tells you that you need to strongly re-evaluate the strength of one-pair hands when faced with a turn raise, regardless of whether or not it’s a check raise. This theorem seems to acknowledge the fact that most players play in a passive fashion, particularly in low limit games, and will only take an aggressive line when they have a one pair hand beat.

One pair hands are notoriously overplayed by bad players and you will quite often see players willingly donate their entire stack with 100bb+ stacks with a top pair hand with only a descent kicker, after facing a big raise on the turn which likely suggests they’re beat. By considering the Baluga theorem as part of an overall online poker strategy, it will force you to slow down, evaluate what the raise from your opponent means, and consider the possibility that you may actually be beat.

Application of Baluga Whale Theorem

Building big pots with big hands goes hand in hand with this poker theorem, but let’s face it, sometimes you just aren’t confident where you are in the hand? This can happen a lot, particularly early in a poker tournament or cash game, when you haven’t had many (if any at all) confrontations with the other player.

This quote from Ryan Fee’s 6max guide is very applicable to these situations:
“If you just fold every marginal situation where you aren’t really sure where you are at in the end you won’t end up losing that much money, in fact if you consistently make incorrect decisions in those situations you will end up losing money. Therefore fold”

This basic premise and advice can be applied to both pre-flop and post-flop scenarios. For example, if pre-flop you’re dealt AT/AJ, although these are good starting hands, if the action begins with a nit’s UTG open, you know they’re generally only raising with a premium range of hands in early position, so folding is probably best due to the likelihood of being dominated and reverse implied odds.

How to use it

Applying this to the Baluga Whale Theorem, there are plenty of times where you just don’t know whether or not your top pair hand is any good, especially on dry boards when it seems impossible they’re being aggressive with any other hand and when it’s a multi-way pot reducing the likelihood they’re bluffing. So again, folding is likely the best option when your value bet on the turn gets raised or check-raised.

Of course, what action you should take will completely depend on reads you have on the opponents at the table and stack sizes. If you’re up against a fish that could quite easily be aggressive with worse made hands, drawing hands, or complete air, or if you have a significant portion of your stack already invested in the pot, then it changes everything.