Why Value Betting Is Crucial In Poker

Value Betting is a very important part of poker regardless of whether you play cash games or tournaments. Learn more about it right here.

Not value betting often enough drags your win rate down into the doldrums. Indeed, correctly value betting regularly is one significant difference between a winning and breakeven, or even losing, player. Are you value betting enough?

You need to know what a value bet is before you can accurately answer that question. A value bet is a bet made that gets action, or called, from hands worse than yours. It is the opposite of a bluff, which is a bet that folds out hands better than yours.

Value betting is easy when you have a strong hand. For example, you are sat there with the nuts. Whatever hand calls your bet loses, making your value bet +EV, that is, you expect to win money. But, and here is the but, you will rarely have the nut hand, yet you still need to value bet. Here is how.

Value Betting Considerations

There are several factors to consider before you make a value bet. Your value bet could, in fact, be a bluff when you consider all those factors.

Your opponent’s skill level plays a major role in whether you should value bet or not. Micro and low-stakes players absolutely hate folding and often find any excuse to look you up. They will call your bets with second or third pair, making them the perfect target for value betting.

These players hate folding for two main reasons. First, they lack the skills to put you on an accurate range of hands. Second, your value bet may only be for $0.65, and they do not consider this a lot of money, so call and hope for the best.

Always Think In Terms of Ranges of Hands

The range of hands your opponent could have plays a major role in value betting. Many poker players only think about what hands beat them and not what hands their opponents will call a bet.

For example, we raise from middle position with Qs-Qc and the big blind calls. The flop falls Jd-9s-5d and the big blind checks. This is the perfect spot for a continuation bet and doing so for value. We have an overpair to the board, and villain has shown no preflop strength. We bet and villain calls. The turn is the 3c, and the big blind checks again. What do we do? What hands does the big blind have here?

He did not three-bet preflop, so we can heavily discount aces and kings. Queens too, because we have two in our hand. He could be playing jacks passively, pocket nines, and pocket fours, too. Obviously, we are in big trouble if this is the case. However, villain could easily hold king-jack, queen jack, queen-ten, ten-nine, nine-eight, nine-seven, six-fives etc. We beat all those hands, so value betting is the best choice. We bet and villain calls.

Villain checks on the 7s river; what do we do now? We look at the range of hands that we believe villain holds. There are many more hands we beat than we lose to, so we value bet.

How Much To Value Bet?

Bet sizing when value betting is essential. The trick is to find the perfect amount that your opponent is prepared to call with a worse hand than yours instead of folding. It is not an exact science, but you can experiment with different player types.

Let us go back to the above example and pretend the pot on the river weighs in at exactly $50. How big should your value bet be? Your opponent will almost always call a $5 bet here with any piece of the board. Would they call a $10, $20, $30 or more bet if they would call $5?

A half-pot to 65% pot-sized bet is a sweet spot for most low-stakes opponents. You can bet more if you believe they have a strong second-best hand or are incapable of folding.

Smaller is sometimes better. Let us say our opponent calls a $30 bet on this river 60% of the time. We expect to make $18.00 from that bet ($30 multiplied by 0.60). But what if you think they would call a $20 bet 95% of the time. In the long run, you expect to make $19.00 from the latter, which is only $1 more than the bigger bet, but those $1 here and there all add up.

Brad Johnson

You name the game, and you can bet your bottom dollar that Brad has either played it or placed a wager on it! Brad calls himself a natural gambler, and someone who gains as much enjoyment from writing about the crazy game of poker as he does playing it.


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