In a broader sense, betting in poker can refer to any action where you’re placing chips forward into the pot. This definition applies it’s a bet, call, or raise.
More commonly, though, it merely refers to a bet:
- where there hasn’t been any previous action in the betting round (other than checks),
- and where a player places forward an initial amount of chips to open up the action.
In general, there are three reasons to bet during a poker hand:
- Value: For value is where you look to profit by getting called by worse hands.
- Bluff: Bluffing is where you try to get your opponent to fold a better hand.
- Semi-Bluff: You can semi-bluff when you have little value to your hand now. But the excellent potential exists to improve to a much stronger hand (i.e., when you have a draw). You can win by getting your opponent to fold now or significantly improving on a future street.
In this article, we’ll be delving into the broad topic of “betting.” You’ll get tips to help improve your effectiveness and master this pivotal part of poker.
When To Bet In Poker: Be The Aggressor
Being an aggressive poker player (using bets and raises rather than calls and checks) is necessary. To be a winning player in the long term, you must be aggressive.
You’ll win when you have the best hand at the showdown. Being aggressive gives you an added way to win the hand.
You can use fold equity by getting all your opponents to fold.
Poker essentially denies your opponents to realize their equity for free. If you can push them off their hand, you gain whatever equity you refused from their hand.
Bet With Purpose: Why Are You Choosing To Bet
Always know why you are betting!
It’s always crucial to ask yourself why you’re choosing to bet. The common reasons for betting (as mentioned earlier) are to gain value, to bluff, or semi-bluff.
You have to ask what the purpose is, along with what is the desired outcome:
- Do you want your opponent to call?
- Do you want him to fold?
- Do you want to induce him to raise?
- You can undoubtedly aim to study and play a balanced, game-theory optimal (GTO) poker style. But, typically, playing an exploitative strategy will be more profitable. Click here and learn more about betting.
Know Your Opposition: Categorize Your Opponents
Knowing how to play against your opponents and when to bet optimally is essential to figure out their:
- Skill level
- Level of competency
- Playstyle tendencies
With this knowledge, you can exploit them.
Here are some general tips for deciding when to bet in poker. We’ve based this list on your opponents’ characteristics:
Study Your Opponent And The Action In Hand
1. Identify Good and Bad Players: You will want to tailor your bets to good and bad players. So, it’s essential to distinguish fish from sharks early on. A player’s level of thinking will determine how competent they are. It will decide what options you have to bet profitably against their hand.
2. Don’t Bluff Bad Players: Bad players will be happy to call down and see a showdown. It’s impossible to bluff them, so be sure to refrain from trying to do so.
3. Increase Your Value Bet Sizes Against Bad Players: Incompetent players will love calling down. You can gain more value and increase your profits by increasing the size of your value bets.
4. Have a plan on the flop for the rest of the hand: When you see the failure, 60% of the community cards are already out there! How you connect with the board should help you decide on a rough betting plan for the rest of the hand (and not only for the flop).
5. Doing this early will help you play well against your opponent. (Instead of thinking of this when you’re in a big river situation, start early). Having a direction will ease your decisions for later in hand. It will ensure your “story” makes sense (for whatever you’re trying to represent). You will be able to maximize your EV against all relative opponents.
Poker Rules For Bluffing
Here are some essential tips to start studying immediately:
1. Only bluff players who will fold: It doesn’t make sense to bluff against a player who is all too likely to call you down. Pick your spots wisely, but choose the correct player types when attempting to bluff. If you can have a range of nut advantages in the hand, it’s more likely for your opponents to give your bluff credit. It will help them to make that fold more often.
2. How strong of a hand your opponent has: This question will be easier to answer based on your hand-reading capabilities. Say – through bet sizes and betting action – you can reduce the strength of your opponent’s hand. Then it’ll be a lot easier to figure out the likelihood of their range/hand strength. You can also figure out whether a bluff will work (if you pull the trigger).
3. Ensure your story makes sense: Your actions and your chosen bet sizes will determine if your “story” is credible. When you bluff, it must make sense that you have the value hand (or hands) you’re trying to represent. Questions you might ask yourself before bluffing are: “Do I have the nut hands in my range?” Or, “what bet sizing would I use if I had the hand I’m repping?”
4. Choose your bet size well: Choosing the right size for your bluffs will allow you to tell a credible story. Players often call down if “the story doesn’t make sense.” A few examples: if you use large, polarized bet sizes, it’s generally advisable to have a nut advantage in your range. If you use smaller-sized bets, it’s usually advisable to have a broader value range, with only a minimal number of select bluffs.
Regarding poker bet sizing strategy, there are no complex fast rules. The above guide is just a guideline. Don’t be afraid to challenge the status quo; get creative and experiment with what works best for you. The best strategy is the one that maximizes your win rate in your specific game.
With that said, good luck at the felts and happy grinding!