Poker Bet Sizing Correctly is Everything

poker bet sizing

Poker Bet Sizing

How much thought do you give to the bets you make when playing poker? It’s not a trick question. Effectively sizing your bets is everything when it comes to playing for the long run. Most online poker sites offer automatic buttons like 50% pot, 75% and full pot, but players often just click any and are not giving enough consideration to board texture, number of opponents and relative hand strength. This article will highlight and explain why accurate poker bet sizing is important to your ability to earn lots of money both online and in casinos.  

What Does Good Poker Bet Sizing Do?

Forces Errors

Whilst the small ball style of poker has been popularised in recent years, it does fail to enforce mathematical errors from your opponents. Consider a wet board texture. This type of flop requires a large sized bet to make your opponent pay to outdraw. Anything less than 70% of the pot is unlikely to get a fold nor is it mathematically correct. Any time you are betting 50% of the pot, you are giving your opponent fantastic pot odds. They only need 25% equity in the hand to continue. Put another way, any time you size your bet too small, you are losing money. Even if you win the actual pot, you are making a mistake, allowing your opponent to play correctly and losing yourself money, in the long run. Good poker bet sizing strategy makes your opponent’s make mistakes.

Gets Value

Bet sizing properly doesn’t just mean betting big. It may also mean, putting in that sweet sized bet that gets you paid. Consider a hand where you are betting every street with top set. You get to the river and are automatically reaching for the ¾ pot bet, hoping to get paid. Is that the right bet though? With reasonable estimate, you can predict how often this bet will get paid by a certain player and weight it against a smaller bet. If a bet of $100 gets called 20% of the time and a bet of $50 gets paid 100% of the time – clearly the latter is the correct bet as you are making more money in the long run ($50 x 100% vs 20% X $100). The value of the bet is worth $50 vs $20. Are you beginning to see how important bet sizing is?

Continuation Bet Sizing

Bet SizeBoard Type
25% (1/4 of Pot)The driest of boards e.g. 3-3-9 rainbow
33% (1/3 of Pot)Dry rainbow flops e.g. Q-7-3 rainbow
50% (1/2 of Pot)Mixed flop type e.g. K-9-6 rainbow
75% (3/4 of Pot)Suited and connected e.g. Js Ts 4d
100% (Full Pot)Wettest of flops e.g. Td 8d 9c
Overbet Those special occasions you know you’re getting called and you have monster or conversely you know an overbet bluff will work as your opponent can’t have “it”.

Beginner Texas Hold’em Question

Does Bet Sizing in Poker Tournaments Change?

We need to make exceptions to tournament poker. This is especially true for online poker tournaments that have shorter stacks and quicker blind levels. Generally, you can size your bets smaller in tournaments. It is better poker bet sizing strategy to risk less of your chips, as a bigger bet will often accomplish the same as a smaller one.

Open Raises in Cash Games vs Tournaments

Cash GamesYou should open raise between 3 and 4 big blinds in a cash game. You can raise even more if the game is wild and you want to thin the field out. For each limper, add an extra big blind to your raise.
TournamentsIf you are a member of poker training video membership (see banner below), you will know I opt for a min raise from early position, 2.2x the blinds from middle and 2.5 x the big blind from late position. The reason is simple – I want to play bigger pots when I have position advantage. Add an extra big blind for each fishy limper.

Perceptions of different bet sizes

Small Bet

A small bet used to be a sign of weakness when perceived from a strong player. Poker has evolved though and this is less the case these days. Strong players will no longer assume you have air. They will still throw in the occasional re-raise or poker float to test you but I am noticing a lot of pro’s folding for cheap flop bets.
Awful player’s don’t really think much about what you have and likely perceive it as a weak hand, if anything. it won’t dissuade them from continuing in the pot.

Standard Bet

The standard open and standard 1/2 pot bets are generally considered “usual” by strong players. They will look at the board texture and whether it marries up with your range of hands. This will guide their judgement on what cards you have.
The weaker players are more likely to give some credit for a hand when they see the standard opens and bets. They will probably assign you a top pair type hand but not much better. Again though, the fishes are not really thinking too much about what you have.

Large Bet

Intermediate players and even some experts will make incorrectly assume you are super strong or super weak when they see a large bet. They will polarise your range. This is one thing that makes professionals exploitable, if you can balance big bets with hands that aren’t bluffs or the nuts.
Weak players will usually pause for thought and think you have a strong hand but call anyway if they have a top pair or better hand. That’s why grinder’s don’t care if they pot bet for value on the river. They know the fish will call it.

One of the best things about poker is the freedom you have to choose your bets. Don’t waste it! Sizing your bets accurately is arguably the most important thing that separates winners and losers.

What are the Consequences of Poorly Sized Bets?

The consequences of sizing your bets poorly can’t be understated. If you’re one of the many players prone to auto-betting the same %, you need to stop and reflect on your game. Miscalculating your bets will the following:

  • Getting outdrawn more often
  • Less successful bluffs
  • Less value from premium hands
  • Lower hourly win rate
  • Less tournament cashes and final tables
  • More perceived “bad beats”
  • More multi-way pots – less chance of winning

Conclusion

In order to earn money from poker, you will need to have a solid grasp of bet sizing. You can skirt by and win a little if you’re in fishy games and know about other things, but it won’t cut it in other games. Perhaps you have no interest in bet sizing and just want to gamble. That’s fine, there are plenty of casino sign up bonuses available online that give you the chance to make money and entertain you too. This article is merely a guide on poker bet sizing. The intricacies of how much to bet on the turn to force a bad call from a flush draw or to thinly value bet 3rd pair is just as important. If you are interested in learning more about bet sizing, feel free to contact us to see how we can help.