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The Two Main Reasons For Betting in Poker
Betting is a major component of playing poker. It is the way we make money. It is the way we protect our hands. Everything revolves around betting in poker.
Have you ever made a bet in poker and wondered why you made it? I’m willing to bet the answer is a resounding yes. These bets may have worked there and then but that does not make them correct.
There are several reasons for betting in poker. Every bet needs to have one of those reasons behind it. What are those reasons? We bet for value. We bet to protect our hands. You can bet as a bluff, to thin the field, or to claim the dead money. There are more reasons for betting in poker but these are the main ones.
Good poker players only really use two reasons for betting. They bet for value or they bet as a bluff. These are the two main reasons you should focus on.
Reasons For Betting In Poker: Betting For Value
Betting for value is the most common reason for betting in poker. We build pots with our stronger hands in the hope of our opponent paying us off. They pay us off, we make money. Simple, right?
The problem is we rarely know if we have the best hand or not unless we have a royal flush. There are, of course, scenarios when we are almost certain we have the best hand.
Knowing if your hand is best takes skill and experience; hand reading is an art form. We assign our opponents ranges of hands and act accordingly.
You can bet for value on each street: preflop, on the flop, on the turn, or on the river. It doesn’t matter if our opponent outdraws us. All that matters is our bet was for value at the time we made it.
Take this hand, for example. We raise preflop with ace-king and are called by king-queen. Our preflop raise is for value because we’re building the pot with one of the strongest hold’em hands. The flop falls king-eight-four all different suits. A continuation bet here is for value because being called makes us money. Weaker hands than our top pair top kicker will call us.
Always consider the types of hands that could call us when you’re betting in poker. You want worse hands to call you. You’re better off checking or calling rather than betting or raising if you can’t think of any.
Reasons For Betting In Poker: Betting As A Bluff
Betting as a bluff is another reason for betting in poker. The very definition of a bluff in poker is a bet designed to make better hands fold. Bluffs can be made on any street, which is the same as value bets.
The majority of your continuation bets will be bluffs or semi-bluffs at the very least. We flopped top-pair top-kicker in our previous example so betting for value is incredibly easy. But what if we raise preflop with pocket king-queen, get called, and the flop falls ace-ten-three. A continuation bet as a bluff here will likely win the pot.
Our opponent will probably fold hands like sixes, sevens, eights and nines, all hand that beat us right now. This is a great result because our opponent can’t realize their equity against us.
Those are the two main reasons for betting in poker, for a bluff and for value. It is crucially important to always think about why you’re betting. Don’t make the bet just for the sake of it, always have a valid reason to committing chips into any pot regardless of you playing a cash game or tournament.