Common Bet Sizing Beginner Mistakes
Most beginner and many intermediate poker players suffer from making poorly sized bets at bad times. Instead of considering how their opponent views their range and how he is likely to react to particular bet sizes, they just tend to click the preset or default bet size buttons provided by the client. You should try to avoid making the same mistake.
One of the things that separate excellent players from good players, good players from mediocre players, and mediocre players from weak players is how good they are at making bets at appropriate times and how well they size those bets.
Know Your Reasons for Betting
Before deciding on an appropriate bet size, we should know our reason for betting. Is the bet for value? Is the bet a bluff? After that, we should ask ourselves how often do we think our opponent is calling our value bets? How often is our opponent likely to fold to a reasonably sized bet, etc. Only when we have answered those questions can we decide on what we think is an appropriate bet size.
For example, if we have a nutted hand and we think our opponent will have a strong hand also, we should size our bet on the larger side. If we think our opponent has a hand with weak showdown value, we should bet a much smaller amount. When betting for value, we should always be trying to figure out what is the most an opponent will call and then size our bet accordingly.
Bluff Bet Sizing
When bluffing, we should first try to establish how likely it is our opponent will fold. If we think it is pretty unlikely, then we clearly shouldn’t be betting at all. However, if we think our opponent has a relatively weak range but one we aren’t likely to beat at showdown, we have a good spot to try and make a bluff. Suppose we’re just trying to make an opponent fold air that is better than our air. In that case, we can get away with betting very small. If we think he has a small piece of the board, we can consider making a slightly larger bet, but if we think we need to make a really large bet, it could mean that we’re not getting a very good price on our bluff anymore, so we should reconsider our decision to bluff.
Bet Sizing Conclusion
The advice given above is very easy to exploit and would make you a sitting duck in a game with strong players. However, in micro stake games and nano stake games, it’s just very unlikely you’re going to come up against enough players capable of exploiting you for it to be a concern. As we progress as players and move up through the limits, we will need to learn how to balance our ranges and bet sizing to avoid being too easy to read but for now, if you’re playing $25NL or lower, playing an exploitable style whilst looking out for ways to exploit your opponents is likely to be as good a strategy as any for you.