Bet Sizing

Bet sizing is a pretty self-explanatory term that simply means how large you make your bets. Whether you know it or not, you are constantly using the bet sizing concept with every raise and re-raise. Of course, the more effective you are at bet sizing, the more money you can extract from good hands, while also avoiding losing chips in unfavorable situations. Now that we’ve covered the importance of bet sizing, let’s look at how you can do this effectively.

Form a Goal

The first step to good bet sizing is determining a goal for the hands you play. The goal could change depending on what cards land on the board, but you should always have some idea as to what you’re doing with each bet. For example, your initial goal might be to isolate one player by pushing others out of a hand; in this case, you would make pre-flop bets that are big enough to make weaker drawing hands fold, but not so large that nobody wants to call. This being said, here are some of the situations that you’ll come across when bet sizing.

Forcing a Fold

Maybe you missed your drawing hand….maybe you have position on an extremely tight player who could fold to a raise. In any case, there will be situations where your goal will be to force a fold. When you want somebody to fold, you should bet the smallest amount that will get the job done; the reason why is because you don’t want to lose lots of chips if somebody is intent on calling. So instead of betting the pot when there’s $100 in the middle, bet $50 or $60, which is just enough to give the opponent bad odds for calling.

Value Betting

You can check out our section on value betting for an in-depth discussion of this concept, but the basic idea behind a value bet is wagering the max amount that somebody will call. To be a skilled value bettor, you need to know your opponents pretty well, and be confident that you have the best hand. Once this matter is settled, you can make the appropriate bet size to extract maximum value out of your hand. For example, if there’s $80 in the pot on the flop and you flop a nut flush, you aren’t going to make a pot-sized bet because it’s too obvious; instead, you bet $20-$30 to make the call more attractive so you can make more on the following streets.

Isolating Opponents

Isolating an opponent is typically done pre-flop when you have a great hand, but want to limit the number of hands so you don’t get outdrawn. Raising 5 times the big blind is a nice uniform bet that will normally accomplish this task. Of course, the table you’re on will determine how effective your pre-flop raises are too, so be ready to adjust your bets accordingly.

Once you’ve mastered bet sizing, you’ll be able to effectively limit the field, value bet, and force players to fold on a consistent basis.

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