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Bet Sizing

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  • Bet Sizing

    The past two weeks or so I've been pondering about bet sizing. I've been reading some, and watching some videos, and I've come to the conclusion that bet sizing isn't my thing. Well, not yet anyway. I know the basic mantra: don't adjust your bet sizing based on your hand strength. As in: don't bet small with weak hands and strong with monsters. Good players will pick up on that. And although I don't consider myself to be a good player yet, I certainly do pick up on that at the table from time to time. I also remember reading back when I was starting out to keep bet sizes consistent. Still, I also remember Dan Harrington saying you should bet small with small hands and big with big hands. Then again, that was eons ago.

    And so that's what I've been doing. Whenever I open, I bet just under 3x. A 3bet is about 3x as well, and a continuation bet is around 2/3 pot. On the turn and river, it's around half pot most of the time, unless I'm sure I can get paid off when betting bigger. I rarely deviate to smaller bet sizes. And I've been sticking to that quite religiously. No matter how bad my play may get at times, I won't be giving off any bet sizing tells.

    Recently, I've been getting some mixed signals. In response to some of my hand analysis, I've gotten the signal that my c-bet sizing is too big, saying I might be better off going down to just over half pot. But then I see a video saying just over half-pot is too small. Cunfusion ensues.

    And so I've been paying a little more attention to both sides of the argument. And it seems that I've been missing one thing in the whole matter. That's the bit where bet sizing shouldn't be the same every single time, that's a nice basis to start from, but you should make adjustments up and down depending on the opponent and the texture of the board. It's nice in theory but does bring plenty of complications. For me anyway.

    And so I'll need to do some more studying. Making bigger bets against the calling station sounds like a good idea. One of the crucial concepts in poker is maximizing value and minimizing losses. The only problem here is that this is going to be dependent on reads you have on the opponents. And reading players definitely is not my strong point, hence the complications.

    So let's look at some of these (post flop) situations:

    Increasing bet sizes
    Thinking about it, I can come up with several situations where I might want to look into increasing my bet sizing to 3/4 or even upto full pot.

    First, there's the calling station. If you happen to flop big against a guy who you know is never folding a pair, or the very loose and passive player, extracting the maximum value is important.

    Second, there's the wet board. If you flop a big pair, but there's a likely straight draw or flush draw on the board, you might want to increase the bet size so that they do not get the proper pot odds to keep drawing. And then of course hope they do call, since opponents making mistakes is what we want in poker.

    A third reason to increase the betsizing is when you are not heads up. Of course the pot will be bigger, but there's also a bigger chance that you will get called by worse, so you might wanna start building a pot.

    Decreasing bet sizes
    This one is harder for me. Now when would I want to decrease my bet size, and by doing so giving my opponent better odds to come along?

    The first is obvious: you flop the monster. And I don't mean the top pair top kicker type hands. More along the line of a top set on a very dry board, or a straight or flush that runs little risk of getting outdrawn on the turn. With such strong hands, you actually want the opponent to call, and too big a bet might scare them off. Against weak players, this bet sizing might even be deceptive. After all: weak players tend to bet big when they flop big, bet weak when they flop weak, and they expect the others to do the same. So if they hit the flop and you make a bet that they consider to be weak, they should be calling and might even raise.

    Now I read somewhere that one might also want to bet smaller on the river. It makes sense, because if you're sure you have the best hand, you definitely want to get called. You'd increase your bet size here only when you're sure the opponent has a hand that he's going to have a hard time laying down.

    I've also seen that people suggest continuation bets might be smaller. On the one hand, I can see that take on things. After all: people who have missed the flop should probably fold to your second aggressive move, and people who hit gin won't get away, but neither will they get away if you bet big. Hence, when they return the aggression, you can get away cheaper. Still - betting smaller gives them the chance to draw to a flush or straight because they are getting the right odds to do so. And so we return to the dry flop.

    Now I'm sure there's plenty of other reasons to vary your bet sizes. As such, this post is just a starter and I'll be looking into the concept over the next few months. I'm not playing a lot so it's going to take me awhile... If you have any input, feel free to let me know. The more information I have, the better.

    Read more: Bet Sizing (Ov3rsight) – Poker School Online: Learn Poker Strategy, Odds and Tells
    The Road to Fame and Fortune - Keeping track of my poker semi-career
    Keep up to date: @Ov3rsight

  • #2
    At one time I used standard pre-flop and c-bet sizing about 99% of the time. Now it depends on the position, opponents and my image, etc. In tournaments I usually stick pretty close to std sizes early then get more creative later on if I have the stack for it. I also vary sizes more at a short handed table than at a full table.

    For ring games, as I make full buy-in, I stick with std sizes unless I have a specific reason not to. And randomization is a specific reason in this case.

    Also remember, almost every poker strategy question can be answered with two words. "It depends."



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