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Always Pay Attention To Your Bet Sizes
Poker is a game played with incomplete information. More information is acquired with every action at the table with bet sizes giving away a lot of info.
Many poker players make the same size bet regardless of the board texture and opponent type. They always raise three-times the big blind preflop. They always make a two-third pot continuation bet. Keeping bet sizes uniform does have its merits but betting like this can lead to not extracting the maximum value.
The standard bet sizes change over time. I remember being told to bet three-times the big blind preflop regardless of position. Min-raises or raises slightly more than two-big blinds are commonplace, especially in tournaments.
Your bet sizes determine the pot odds offered to your opponents and vice versa. You can make it unprofitable for an opponent to chase a draw, or induce a call from them with a weaker hand. Betting $50 into a pot of $100 makes the pot odds 3/1 (150/50). Betting only $10 into a $100 pot gives pot odds of 11/1 (110/10).
Always know what you want to achieve by betting. Never make a bet without having a reason for doing so. Do you want your opponent to fold? Do you want them to call and build the pot? What are your plans if your bet is raised? Always ask yourself these questions and plan ahead so you’re never put in a difficult spot.
Preflop Bet Sizes
My personal rule for preflop bet sizes at a six-handed cash game table are easy. I raise three-times the big blind under the gun and in the next seat along. My raise drops to 2.5-times the big blind in the cutoff and a min-raise on the button. This is for online poker, my raises tend to be larger in the live arena where players love calling!
The reason for these bet sizes revolves around the number of players left to act. You have to get through five opponents if you raise under the gun. You only have the blinds to fold out when you raise from the button.
Furthermore, opponents in the blinds are more likely to three-bet a late position raise. Making late position bet sizes smaller allows you to open with a wider range of hands and get out of the way cheaper if the blind begin fighting back.
My three-bet sizing is almost always the same. I like three-times the original raise when in position and four-times when out of position. The larger raise is because it’s more difficult to win a pot when playing out of position. The larger raise is to discourage players from calling me. Winning the pot there and then is never a bad thing when out of position.
Most players have preflop bet sizes nailed down because it’s the simplest street, but what about after the flop? Your bet sizes after the flop are largely determined by two variables: board texture and opponent type.
You want to bet more if you have a made hand on a draw-heavy board. Charge your opponents the maximum to chase their draws, perhaps they’ll give up and fold? Flopping a set on a 3c-Td-7h board needs a smaller bet because your opponent isn’t likely to have a big hand or draw.
How Much You Bet Is Player Dependent
Your opponent’s tendencies have a major bearing on your bet sizes too. Some players won’t calls certain size bets, others simply call anything. The latter is the opponent where you can extract a ton of extra value.
A common strategy with a made hand is to bet only as much as you think your opponent will call. It’s sometimes best to bet even larger. For example, your loose-calling opponent may call a $50 bet into a $100 pot 100% of the time. Happy days, free money. But what about a $100 bet into a $100 pot? He only has to call this bet 50% of the time for you to show the same profit from the smaller bet. You’re making some significant extra cash if he calls a $100 bet 65% of the time.
Bet sizes are not set in stone, that is the beauty of No-Limit Hold’em. Always think about what you’re trying to achieve with your bets and adjust your bet sizes accordingly.