Good morning! I hope today is treating you all amazing. In my last post I talked about “All In” moments, which has brought up several questions. So today, I want to talk about bet sizing.
A few weeks ago, I had a player ask me “How do you know the right amount to bet?” well, there really isn’t an easy answer to that. There are a ton of factors to weigh before you figure out “perfect bets”. Let’s start by giving you a list of some of these factors:
- Position – What position are you currently in. There are 10 positions at the table ranging from seat 1 to seat 10, and all of these positions weigh on your decision making here. Seat 1 (small blind), you better have a premium starting hand before you consider betting here. Seat 2 (big blind), has the same situation as seat 1. Seat 3 (under the gun), if you’re the one betting here, you have 9 people acting after you. This is a place you need to be extra careful. My rule of thumb in this position, “Don’t put chips into the pot if you can’t call a raise with your hand.” I can pretty much do this with every single position at the table.
- Hand – Preflop starting hands matter. The most important round of betting is preflop. This is where you eliminate as many players as possible. If you want your pocket aces to win, you have to bet enough to get the hands that, by design, draw out and beat aces to fold before they see a flop and crush your dreams.
- Information – How much have you learned from your table. Have you been at the table long enough to know the type of players you’re playing with? Are there tight players at the table? Do you have the loose cannon that will call everything? Understanding your table will help you determine your bet sizes.
- Stack Size – How many chips do you have? Are you the chip leader? Are you the short stack? What’s more powerful, a short stack going all in, or that short stack putting half of his chips into the pot? Most people in the short stack situation are looking for the double up, and everyone else at the table knows that. So when they are risking to go even shorter, I tend to look at the hand a little differently. That move says to me that they are trying to keep people in the pot, versus betting all in to get people out. More callers equates to more chips.
- Pot Size – How does your raise change the pot? Is your raise sized to a decent portion of the pot? How many chips have your opponents already committed to the pot?
- Scenario – What’s going on in the hand? Are you the button with 2 raises before you? Has an All In happened before you’ve had a turn to act? Are too many people in the hand when you’re turn to act comes?
These are all things you need to factor before you raise. This thought process will help you as you’re advancing as a poker player.
In saying this, there is another line that makes these things less intense. There are concepts that say your raises preflop should be in 3x increments. What that means is that if the blinds are 400-800 and you want to raise, you should be raising it to 2400. If you have additional callers in the hand you’re adding another X for each of those players. Using that situation, the blinds are 400-800 and position 3 and 4 have called. Now there is 2800 in the pot. A raise of 2400 will less likely get these people to fold, but if you make it 4000 to go, now they have to seriously make a decision. There are 5 players in the hand and you’ve made it 5x the big blind. Calling this becomes more of a gamble, and it makes your hand look a lot stronger. However, if you always do everything by the book, people will figure you out, and use that against you.
Here’s a scenario I’d like to share. Last summer I entered a tournament in Las Vegas. Throughout this tournament I was sitting in the 7 seat. I’ve built my stack up to about 120k, I’m not the chip leader at the table, but I’m probably the second biggest stack. This hand in particular, I was dealt Qh-Qd in the small blind. The blinds have crept up to 3000-6000 with a 500 ante. So in this hand I’ve already committed 3500 to the pot. The player in seat 10 (under the gun +1) raises to 12000. The next 2 players fold, then seat 3 (The cut off) calls the 12000, folds to seat 6 (The button) and he calls, it’s also important to note that he’s the chip leader at the table. Now I’m faces with a serious situation. We’re 10 handed so with everyone at the table paying their ante, that’s 5000 in the pot, the small blind and big blind bring it up to 14000. Add the 3 calls of 12000 the pot is a whopping 50k preflop, and there are still 2 of us left to act. My thought process at this point is that the player is the 10 seat had shown us that he likes to build pots and will raise out of position with marginal hands, however, the 6 seat has proven to be a pretty tight player. His call makes me think a little more. I’m not as worried about the button because he’s paying to see the flop expecting me and the big blind to fold. After thinking about this for a few seconds I determine that the pot is too big to just fold, and there are also too many players in the hand for me to just call. So I raise. I make the bet 58000 to call, half my stack at the time. I came to this number based on the size of the pot 50k and still have 4 other players in the hand I knew it couldn’t be just a typical raise. I knew I had to represent strength, but I also had to give myself a chance to bet on the flop if the button ended up calling as he was the chip leader at the table. The big blind folds, seat 3 instantly folds. Seat 6 thinks about it for a second then goes all in for less with 43000. The guy on the button folds. As it turns out, I made the right bet. I found the perfect number to get heads up. We turned the cards over and seat 6 was sitting on 9h-9c. The board came out Ah-Ac-Qs. He needed running 9’s to win and doesn’t hit. There was a lot of information to determine in the hand and having a strong hand helped me there. There is always a chance that I could have been up against KK or AA. Timing and bet sizing are everything in these situations.
There are many scenarios out there and every hand will always be different. My suggestion is, extract as much information as your table is willing to give you. When you’re telling your story at the table, give them as little information as possible. Paying attention will net you nothing but useful information. Making the right bet at the right time can be the difference between a good player and a novice.
Here are some external links for you to continue your research on bet sizing:
I hope that I’ve help your thought process on bet sizing! As always, I will never tell you that I will make you a better player, but I do hope that I’ve helped you look at the game differently! I hope the rest of your week is good and may many pots be pushed in your direction!