Bet Sizing in NL Holdem

Bet-Sizing in No Limit Holdem

Knowing how to build pots with your winning hands and force opponents to fold with your bad hands is an increasingly imporant skill in cash games and tournaments.  In doing so we need to the optimum amount to bet in different situations and streets. 

Having a good knowledge of optimal bet-sizing will prepare you for many difficult decisions and will save you alot of chips from making unneccessarily high bets.  It’ll also prevent you getting sucked-out by drawers when you currently hold the best hand. (For bet-sizing in tournments read Betting in Poker Tournaments).

Ultimately, every time you make a bet in no limit holdem you should be looking for a careful balance that is dependant on the strength of your hand, the objective of your bet, and the strength of your opponent (plus his table image).

Bet-Sizes on Different Streets

Here are some rough guides for betting-sizes in Texas Holdem.  (Remember that in tournaments you’re bet sizes are usually 20-35% smaller than in cash game).

  • Pre-flop Opening Raises: 3-4BBs + 1 extra BB for each limper
  • Pre-flop Re-Raises: 3x the opening raise (usually about 12xBBs)
  • Continuation Bets: half-pot bet is about right (only needs to work 1/3 times to break even)
  • Betting the Flop for Value (against drawing hands): 2/3 – 2/4 pot-size bet
  • Betting the Turn/River for Value: 1/4 – 1/2 post-size bet
  • Bluffing the Turn/River: 3/4 pot-size bet

If you regularly make minimum bets, you will find you are often giving your opposition the right odds to call. Using bets early on in the game, such as preflop, also allows players to reduce the number of actors involved in the hand. This is especially good for getting rid of limpers who try to see flops as cheaply as they with marginal hands, hoping to hit something big on the flop.  A good pre-flop raise should be at least 3 times the size of the big blind plus 1BB for every additional limper.

After the flop, the size of your bet should be directly related to the size of the pot. If you have the best hand or you’re looking to bluff you should bet on average 75% to 100% of the pot. This gives your opponent bad pot odds to call on draws, aswell as folding any hands that might possibly beat you at showdown.

Betting for Different Reasons

In poker you should only be betting for two reasons: to force your opponent to call, or to extract maximum value from hands that when you’re ahead.  Some people claim that “betting for information” is also ok, but in my opinion you should be getting your information elsewhere for free – by viewing his HUD stats or watching him when sat out for example.

Betting for Value:

When you are presented with a very strong hand that is unlikely to be beaten, your aim is to keep other players in the pot and extract maximum value – this is known as value betting.  For example, let’s say I’ve made my nut flush on the river and I want to extract maximum value from my opponents.   A bet size of about 1/4 (also known as min-bet) should be enough to get curious players to call here.  Usually, even players who make mid-pair and other non-top hands will call for these odds.  On the other hand, if I bet too much, say 3/4 to full size pot-bet, it would be far too much against most players – and my opponents would fold – meaning I’ve missed an opportunity to win more chips.

Betting to Win the Pot:

If I’ve missed my draw and sense some weakness in my opponent (perhaps mid-pair for example), then I’ll need a big bet to throw him off the hand – at least 3/4 to pot-size bet (possibly even an over-bet).   The precise amount to bet also depends on the number of opponents in the pot and how weak/strong your opponent is, but most of the time a half to pot-size bet will force weak opponents to fold.  Importantly, the more opponents you have in the pot than the bigger your bets are going to have to be. 

One Response to “Bet Sizing in NL Holdem”

  1. Alex says:

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