In poker, expert players understand the importance of extracting every last drop of value when they have the best hand. While beginners tend to underbet “thin” for fear of chasing away callers, professional players realize that relentlessly thin value betting is key to long-term profits.
Even if you only get called by better hands occasionally, those small incremental payoffs add up tremendously over the long run. Let’s examine how to use thin value bets to get paid.
What is Thin Value Betting?
Thin value betting refers to betting a marginal hand on the river and expect to show a small profit in the long term. It’s scenarios where players bet what they think is the best hand despite its low hand ranking.
Why Bother Betting for Thin Value?
In short, betting for thin value makes you more money in the long run. Additionally, it makes you a tougher opponent. By having a balanced range, your opponents can’t easily assign you a range. You’ll also get it wrong and be called by better hands from time to time. This isn’t necessarily bad as it shows you’re prepared to bet marginal holdings for value.
Sizing Thin Value Bets
Sizing up the correct bet size is an art in itself. A huge part of your decision making will be guided by the opponent type and their tendencies. If your opponent is a fish who pays off lightly regardless of bet size, you may go larger e.g. 60% of pot. Conversely, against a standard TAG, you may opt for a smaller bet to guarantee a cheap call from a player type who is making decisions based on pot odds. Therefore, there is no hard and fast rule. You should be taking into context who you’re facing when sizing the value bet.
Balancing Thin Value Bets
The key is being unpredictable with your thin value betting patterns. If opponents identify you only bet “thin” for value, they will start raising you relentlessly. This is less of a concern at games under $100 buy-in but definitely something to be aware of at mid to higher stakes games.
Mix up your sizing with bigger bets with real monsters. Go for three streets of value with vulnerable nut hands. Check call with some strong holdings. Keep them guessing.
It Only Takes One Time
Remember, you only need to get called and paid with your marginal hands occasionally for thin value betting to be hugely profitable long term.
Just one time getting called light in a bloated $1,000 pot might cover 10 failed attempts at thin value. Look at it through the lens of expected value (EV) and you will appreciate it more.
Becoming comfortable betting marginal holdings for thin value takes practice. But it is one of the hallmarks of high level poker. Start implementing the strategy today if you want to maximize your win rate.
The key to successfully use thin value betting is to be narrowing opponents ranges that you can confidently ascertain if you’re ahead. This is something beginners struggle with as they look at their hand in a vacuum. Once you gain an understanding of when your hand is best, you can stop checking rivers when you’re hand is best and begin to think about extracting the maximum value. It comes with experience and feels great when you’re getting the most out of a hand as you possibly can.