Bet sizing is especially important in live poker because you’ll have an excellent opportunity to exploit players who aren’t
very good. If you might have gotten a half pot sized bet out of
a good player on the internet, there’s a legitimate chance that
you could squeeze a three quarters pot sized bet out of a bad
player in live poker.
Picking your spots is the name of the game
when it comes to bet sizing. You need to know why you are
betting and who you are betting against. If you know both of
these things, you’ll have a much easier time making the most
money from your big hands and losing the least with your weaker
Bet sizing isn’t applicable only to pre-flop or flop play;
it’s used throughout the entirety of a hand. While it’s
certainly true that bet sizing will be relevant for the duration
of a hand, how you size your bets will often times change from
street to street. You might open raise pre-flop to 5x the blind,
but you aren’t going to be using this same metric when you bet
the turn or river. Adjusting based on the dynamics of any given
hand is absolutely crucial. You might bet a set for a certain
amount on one board and another amount on another board. As
mentioned previously, knowing why you are betting and who you
are betting against is the most important thing to understand.
Why You Are Betting
The reason why you are betting should be obvious, but you
might be surprised how often you can catch yourself betting
without much rhyme or reason. It’s very easy to fire out blind
bets without thinking too hard about it. There’s a certain
degree of natural instinct that tends to take over, but you need
to be sure that you are carefully considering each move before
you actually make it. Even the best of players have fired out
bets, set the money in the middle, and then realized that they
made a big mistake. Your intent is directly related to how you
should size your bets.
Now, let’s change this hand and pretend that an overcard came
on the flop. You still have a decent pair, but now there’s an
increased chance that you are behind. Given this, a bet like 60
into the 100 would be more logical. If you get called you’ll
know that you could definitely be behind, if you get raised you’ll have saved a little, and it’s still enough to procure
folds. You adjusted downwards because you have a good hand, but
it isn’t as good as an overpair.
These two examples were incredibly simplistic while also
illustrative of why bet sizing is so important in live poker.
With online poker sites, a good opponent would be able to pick apart this
bet sizing and use it as a tell. In live poker, most players
just aren’t thinking that hard.
Big hands and hands that are defending against draws is where
most players find themselves in trouble. With a big hand, you
should be betting out very hard. If you have drawn up a slow
play, this is one thing, but you shouldn’t be finding some
ground in the middle. Either slow play or bet hard, but you
can’t try to do both at one time. Raise your bets in correlation
with the strength of your hands. While this is a telegraph of
hand strength, most live players won’t pick up on it.
The worst thing you can do with a big hand is to make bets that get calls
but achieve nowhere near the maximum in terms of profitability.
In the long run, there’s a big difference between betting “6”
and getting calls vs. betting “8” with the same results. Value
betting is an easy way to make a lot of money from live poker
Hands that are defending against draws should be played in a very similar way.
Whatever you do, don’t start to play passively. Not only is this playing into
your opponent’s favor, but you are going to make it harder on
yourself later on. You can bet way too much and still get calls
from live players because they like to chase draws. Online you’ll find that players know when they aren’t getting the right
price to call, but live players don’t really care.
Often times it will make sense to bet against draws even harder than with
your made hands because you will be able to balance out the
times where you lose with all of the times that you win big pots
uncontested when your opponent misses.
If anything got confusing
in this section, just remember that betting big is going to be
the correct play more often than not as live players tend to be
Who You Are Betting Against
Who you are betting into is going to have just as much to do
with your bet sizing as your hand itself. You would be more
likely to bet hard with a middle pair against a calling station
than you would be against the tightest player at the table. One
of the biggest advantages of live poker is that you’ll be able
to create and utilize some very strong reads on your opponents.
If you aren’t using this to profit, you are probably not paying
as much attention as you should be.
Calling stations are the worst
types of players to bluff against. Knowing this, it should be
apparent that these same players are prime targets for big value bets.
If they aren’t folding to your bluffs, they aren’t likely to fold to your value bets
either. As a result, you should bet both more frequently and
with more size when you are up against a player who isn’t prone
to laying down a hand.
The opposite end of the spectrum is where you’ll find the
players who fold to just about everything except when they have
very big hands. These are the players who you should be scoping
out vs. going straight after. What is meant by this is that you
can toss out some smaller bets to get a feel for where you
stand. If a player seems apprehensive about calling a bet, you
can feel safer about continuing on the next street. If you feel
like your tight opponent is confident in their hand, you’ll
know to make a smaller bet or maybe to not bet at all. Use your
opponents tendencies to decide whether you should be going for
value or simply to see whether you are likely to be ahead or
behind in a hand.
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