Poker Betting Strategy
It's all well and good knowing when to bet and raise, but if you don't know how much money you should be betting and raising when the action is on you, then there is a pretty big hole in your game.
Use this quick and easy guide to find out how big your bets should be for the next time you sit down at a no limit Texas Hold'em table.
Why is it important to size your bets properly?
Lets say that you hold a strong hand like top pair on the flop, but there are also two cards of the same suit on the board. Like this...
If you bet too little, you are giving players with drawing hands or hands like middle pair the opportunity to see a cheap turn card, which makes it mathematically correct for them to call to try and beat your hand (as they will have good pot odds - but don't worry about this if you are not familiar with pot odds (playing flush and straight draws) yet, just take it as betting too little is bad). So by not betting enough, you are simply allowing other players to catch up and take the pot away from you.
If you bet too much, you are risking a lot of money for the times when an opponent has a better hand than you. Top pair is a good hand on the flop, and a big bet will get rid of those weaker hands that are trying to outdraw you, but what happens if another player already has you beat? You will have committed a lot of money to the pot when a smaller bet would have done the same job but saved you money.
So as you can guess, we are going to be shooting for the 'sweet spot' in terms of bet sizes. This is going to be where we bet enough to make it mathematically incorrect for players on draws to call, but at the same time not betting so much that it means we lose too much money if we come up against resistance. So lets get to it...
How to size your bets in no limit Texas Hold'em.
Allow me to give you a fundamental yet very awesome rule about good poker betting strategy:
The size of your bets should always be made relative to the size of the pot.
This just means that whenever you make a bet, you take into consideration the size of the pot and bet according to how big or small the pot is. But again, this is all well and good, but it doesn't tell you how big your bets should be. So let me give you one more magical rule that you should always try and follow when it comes to bet sizing.
If you have a strong hand that you wish to bet with, you should make your bets between 75% - 100% of the size of the pot.
By following this rule, you will always be able to work out the optimum range of bet sizes to make at any stage of any hand. By betting between these two figures, you will be betting enough to force opponents on a draw to fold, but not risking so much that it makes it detrimental if one of the other players at the table has you beat. It's a simple rule I know, but it will take you a long way.
Betting before the flop.
I'll mention this again in the article on playing before the flop, but as a general rule of thumb, you want to make your preflop raises around 4 times the size of the big blind.
You have a good hand, so you want to play for good money with it.
If you find that there are any limpers before you, then add 1 big blind on top of the 4 big blind raise. So if you are playing $1/$2 NL Hold'em and you have decided that you want to make a preflop raise, then the standard raise would be $8. However, if there has been 1 limper, then make it $10. If there has been two limpers, make it $12 and so on...
This is because limpers make the pot bigger, which will mean that even if you make a standard 4X BB raise, your opponents will be getting a better price to make the call to see a flop. So make sure you put them to a tougher decision... you want bad players to make a costly mistake by paying a lot to enter the pot with a lame hand.
You're not trying to guarantee winning to pot with a big raise. The benefit of it is getting in to a bigger-money pot with an edge, and that edge is having stronger cards than your opponents. It's good when they call with terrible hands.
With high cards like AK and AQ, the ideal situation is to be heads-up (1v1) on the flop. The more players in the pot with a hand like AK, the trickier it gets. Good preflop betting strategy increases the chances of you playing heads up.
Poker betting strategy overview.
That's essentially the meat and bones of bet sizing in Texas Hold'em for you. You can perfect it in your own time through practice, but if you stick with the 75% - 100% rule and the 4BB rule for before the flop, you are well on your way to becoming a force to be reckoned with at the poker table.
The bet sizing may seem a bit bigger than you might normally be used to, but trust me on this one, this is how a winning poker player bets. It may seem a little scary at first, but you will get used to it after you start to get your feet wet. You also won't mind it as much when you find that you have a much more commanding role over the pots that you play, so get back out there and start betting like a champ.
Go back to the sublime Texas Hold'em guide.