An art that is difficult to master, the value bet in poker is perhaps the most important skill to develop in order to become a long-term winner. It combines the complexity of hand reading, understanding of opponent and maximising value.
One of the most prevalent errors an inexperienced or unconfident player will make is check back hands on the river that warrant betting for value. They will often check back hands for reasons listed below.
Fear of Being Check-Raised The river check raise is such an uncommon play and rarely ever done on a bluff that it is not to be feared, to the extent most players afraid. It takes incredible patience for an opponent to make their hand on the river and still check raise for value. Whilst it’s true, a strong player certainly has the discipline and skill to employ this, the typical online player will often just bet their nut hand on the river (even if their opponent has bet all the way through), purely because they are worried you will check back.
Lacking Conviction Many players who miss out on value are doing so because they lack conviction in their own ability to know their hand is best and assign a range to their opponent. This is because they don’t have the confidence in their own game or lack experience. Perhaps they have suffered too many bad beats or read some hands poorly and it has affected them. Perhaps they are on tilt. Whatever the reason, they lack the conviction to put in the value bet they rightly should.
Wanting a Cheap Showdown Some players just want to show their hand down. They don’t recognise that they are missing out on lots of value in the long run and are happy to check back on the river and show the winning hand. This is extremely detrimental to their long-term ROI and profitability as they are costing themselves money. I contend that many of these types of players even know they are checking back the better hand but do so anyway. Don’t be one of these players.
How Much to Bet? This is the key question you should be asking every time you are considering a value bet on the river. One needs to think what is the most amount of money or chips I can obtain from my opponent. This is a complex question as it involves you assuming the perfect and maximum amount your opponent will call, given their likely hand range. A pot sized bet gives poor pot odds; thus, a strong, experienced player may be less inclined to call with a weak hand. On the contrary, a weak and inexperienced may be happy to call a huge over bet. Correctly judging the amount within a few seconds may seem impossible, but it is it not. It is intuitive and developed off the back of many hands of playing.
Conclusion The importance of appropriate value betting can’t be stressed enough. This article has discussed the reasons why people miss out on value and to avoid it. In future articles, we will be exploring the different types of value bet and how they can used based on opponent and relative hand strength.
An abbreviation of “In The Money”, ITM is a term used in tournament poker to quantify the rate at which a poker player will make the money/cash in a tournament.
Benefits of ITM
Keeping tabs on your ITM poker rate means you are exercising good record keeping and on top of your cash rate. It also means you can prudently forecast how many tournaments you will cash in next month based on the number you enter. It shows you are serious about your tournament poker, keen to monitor and track your performance.
Restrictions of ITM
Calculating your ITM is great, but it is not an indication of how profitable you are. After all, you might cash most of the time but never make it past the 1st or 2nd level after cashing. This would mean you have a poor hourly and poor ROI. Tracking your ROI is far more beneficial than looking at your ITM. I recommend using both methods if you are a serious tournament poker player looking to improve.
How Do I Calculate ITM?
Very simple formula: # Cashes/ # MTTS entered Multiplied by 100 = ITM Rate as % E.G 10 cashes / 90 MTTs entered x 100 = 11% ITM Rate
What is a Good ITM Rate?
I think setting a target of 20-22% is challenging but realistic enough to shoot for. If you are consistently getting above this than you are doing very well. Most MTT experts accept 15 – 20% as a decent cash rate. If you are recording significantly less than this, than you need to look at the MTTS you play and the strategy you employ.
Having a good ITM poker rate is awesome but it’s important to remember that the goal when playing tournaments is to make as much money as possible. If you are adopting a nitty style that eeks you into the money a lot of the time but rarely a deep run or final table, then you need to rethink your strategy. Tournaments will always reward those who finish in the highest places. To achieve this, you have to take calculated risks, steal the blinds and build a decent stack. You need to be the player taking advantage of those that are trying to survive the next level of pay and not the one that is scared to bubble or not cash. We’re here to make money not double our buy in.
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This is so simple and obvious but a worthy reminder for all poker players. We often forget though; just how important it is to concentrate and focus. You’re following twitter, checking the football scores, chatting to friends and still playing poker at the same time?
Poker is hard enough now trying to overcome the tougher calibre players and bad beats without diminishing what edge you do have.
How many tables are you playing? Is this your optimum amount to play at or have you even thought about how many tables are your optimum for playing? Does it differ between tournaments and cash games? Perhaps you need more focus on cash games so need to reduce tables there but can play more tables with tournaments.
Players often just play on autopilot or robotically, don’t become complacent and do the same! If you want to win regularly and maximise your earnings, you need to focus.
I challenge you to do an audit of yourself and find out how focused you are. Ask yourself the following questions and be honest with yourselves.
Are you playing the optimum number of tables?
Are you doing other things whilst playing?
Have you played on “auto-pilot” in the last week?
Have you played whilst tired in the last week?
If you’re answering yes to any of the above questions then you are sacrificing some of your edge and costing yourself money. Don’t give up any of your edge, FOCUS!
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