Guidelines to Play Poker?
This in-depth blog on poker bet sizing strategy will help improve your game when grinding both cash games and tournaments, in whatever size game you’re playing.
Note: If you’d like to see my complete resource of videos on poker bet sizing strategy, scroll down to the middle of this blog.
First off, let’s start with an overview of poker bet sizing strategy, the theory behind it and how you should think about this subject. At Conscious Poker, we believe in ‘conceptual based learning‘ an approach that doesn’t just teach you to memorize situations and formulas, but rather to strengthen your grasp of poker as a whole so you can apply the theory to any situation you encounter.
POKER BET SIZING THEORY
To better understand bet sizing in poker you need to first learn about poker bet sizing theory, which will teach you how much you should be betting, and why.
To construct a proper poker bet sizing strategy you want to start by structuring your bets not based on the strength of your hand, but rather how strong your range is relative to your opponents.
What do I mean by that?
Let’s take a look at a situation which you have inevitably faced before, and I’ll illustrate how poker bet sizing theory will help you structure a proper poker bet sizing strategy.
POKER BET SIZING THEORY HAND EXAMPLE
In a $2/$5 NL cash game, you (Hero) raise under the gun (UTG) to $20 with JsTs. Your lone opponent calls in the Big Blind.
The flop comes down AdKs4c. Your opponent checks. Now it’s on you.
What’s your move?
You may have correctly determined that you should bet, and perhaps your reason was something like ‘because I’m the preflop raiser.’
While you would be correct in saying you should bet here, the reasoning is insufficient. Making the right play for the wrong reasons is still something I consider a mistakebecause it will inevitably lead you to make a suboptimal play when the situations deviate from your formulaic approach toward poker.
The real reason you’re betting in this situation is that the board favors your range as the preflop raiser. You have more strong aces in your range (AK/AQ), along with pocket aces and kings, whereas your opponent cannot have these hands because he would have inevitably 3-bet preflop if he did.
Therefore, the situation warrants a bet from you as the preflop raiser.
Now that you’ve determined you should bet, the question is, ‘how much?’
To determine the right poker bet sizing strategy, you first have you ask yourself this question: ‘how often am I betting in this situation?’ Or put another way, ‘what percentage of my range is betting here?’
In the example above, the answer is roughly 100%. As the preflop raiser, we’re always betting this flop because the board and situation heavily favor our range, so much so that we have to bet here almost regardless of our holding in order to achieve a balanced game plan.
How does the frequency of our betting relate to our poker bet sizing strategy?
It’s simple. The more frequently we are betting in a given situation, the smaller our bet sizing should be.
The logic behind this is quite simple as well. The wider our range is, the more bluffs it will contain. Therefore, the less we can afford to risk in order to win the pot. Since our equity will be lower when our range is weaker, we should be risking less money to win the pot.
Second, the board texture is very dry, meaning there aren’t many hands in which your opponent can check call with. Therefore, choosing a small bet sizing makes the most sense. The reason being your opponent will check/call almost regardless of your bet size if he has any piece of the board, and fold if he doesn’t.
Therefore, betting big is a waste of chips and the same information can be gathered with a smaller bet size