How To Size Poker Bets
Making the properly sized bets is an area of the game that beginning poker players often find difficult in no-limit Texas Hold’em. A correct sized bet in every round of betting allows you to maximize profits on the pots that you win, as well as to minimize losses on those unfortunate hands that are won by other players.
The goal is to avoid over betting that may scare opponents away instead of them adding money to your winning pot, and also to keep from under betting that permits your opponents to call your bet and outdraw you.
In proper bet sizing, your amount wagered should relate to the size of the pot. As such, you must know the pot size before betting because the amount you bet will factor into your opponents’ decision to call or fold dependent upon the pot odds at that stage of the hand. Your opponents will have either the correct or incorrect pot odds.
When a table rival calls your bet while receiving incorrect pot odds, it is a mistake on their part that is profitable to you. By betting the proper amounts, you are forcing the other players to make a decision about calling your bet with pot odds that are incorrect.
The general rule for proper sizes of bets when holding the best hand is to bet about 3/4 of the pot size. A $30 pot should garner a bet of roughly $22 or $23, give or take a buck or two either way. Also, a factor in determining the proper amount to bet are your opponents’ playing styles, but a bet of 3/4 of the pot size should be your aim. A bet too high will entice a weak-handed player to fold who might have put more into the pot on a lesser or correct sized bet.
A bet too low also runs the risk of allowing your opponent to gain good pot odds in making the call and out drawing your hand. Under betting should only be done when you know your opponent will not call your bigger bet and you would like to string him along. In that case, you should also be certain that he cannot win by out drawing you.
Beginners often consider a bet of 3/4 the pot to be too big and will cause too many players too fold. In a way, that is exactly the point because your goal is to make sure their pot odds are incorrect should they decide to call you.
Force Opponents to Pay
You will win more over the long run when forcing opponents to pay too much to out draw you because it is a fundamental poker mistake to call with the wrong pot odds. And any mathematical mistakes made by other players will put more money into your pockets.
A bet of 3/4 the pot size is a value bet and gives your hand more value than making a smaller, weaker bet that will allow players to continue drawing. If your hand is strong, you want to get maximum value on it, which the correct bet size will do.
Before the Flop
Let’s examine the proper size bets to make before the flop; the rule of thumb is that a raise before the flop should be equivalent to three and possibly four times the big blind amount. However, if you be in late position on the hand and one or two players limped in without raising, you must add another bet for each limper.
For instance, if two callers acted before you and you have a premium starting hand, it is advisable that you raise five or six times the amount of the big blind. The reason for this is to prevent the limpers who called from getting the proper or good pot odds should they decide to call your raise.
A common beginner’s mistake in regards to bet sizing is making only the minimum raise or bet; this allows players to call with good pot odds and continue playing the hand. Minimum bets and raises are overwhelmingly not good and should be avoided.
The only time a small bet is useful is when acting first and trying to block another opponent in late position from making a large bet. But blocking bets is a topic for another article. Remember that if a player who bets before you is confronted with your minimum raise, he will just about always call your raise because the pot odds favor that he does so.
In summary, no-limit Texas Hold’em bet sizing of successful poker players requires pre-flop raises to be three or four times the big blind amount with another bet added on for each caller or limper. Post-flop bets should be 3/4 the pot size.
The reasons for both are to maximize your hand’s value with aggressive betting that reduces the pot odds of your opponents if they choose to call your wager. Making minimum or weak bets or raises allows other players to call your bets with favorable odds and affords them a chance to outdraw you. Making the properly sized bets in relation to the pot size or blind is a fundamental aspect of being a winning poker player.
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