Finding the Perfect Bet Size

Lesson #6: Finding The Perfect Bet Size

What separates a professional poker player from a rookie is understanding bet sizing. Knowing when to bet is not enough—almost everyone knows when to bet; it’s knowing how much that’s the real skill. It puts you one step closer to thinking outside the box, and that’s when you really start doing some serious damage to your opponents and making them believe you can read their hand, every time.

Finding The Right Bet Size – Elastic vs. Inelastic Calling Ranges

Determining whether you’re up against an elastic or inelastic calling range comes down to understanding what your range is composed of and your opponent’s ability to read you. If they’ve mastered a good read, they can pick out if you only action value hands and total bluffs. This is inelastic. If, however, your range consists of many different strengths from small value to super-strong as well as bluffs, then it’s harder for your opponent to read an elastic situation.

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Facing Elastic Calling Range 

An elastic calling range is when your opponent’s calling range varies by hand and is sensitive to bet size. To seize the most value, here are some keys to capitalizing on elastic situations. 

  • Opponent will call with inverse ratio of hands to bet size.

Typically your opponent will call small bets with all of their hands, and a massive bet with few hands. Anything in between will be matched with an appropriate amount of calling with nothing or everything hands.

  • Payoff = # Hands that call * Bet Size.

To figure out the expected payoff, look at the number of hands your opponent will call, in terms of hand combinations and then multiply that by your bet size. Try a few options with small, medium and large bets to see which yields the best expectations. Think about what percentage of your opponent’s hands if he makes it to the river he’ll call various bet sizes with then multiply the hands he’ll call with, compared to each bet size to determine the highest expectations.

  • Small bets get called by a wider range of hands, big bets narrower range.

Decreasing your bet by an increment of 10% gets you called by an extra 30% of hands. Knowing how much to bet, so it gets called by the most hands is constantly changing, is the hallmark of an elastic situation.

  • Compare options and bet appropriately

The more you practice, the better your feel for the types of hands your opponents like to call down with and for what bet size. This info will help you determine the perfect bet size.

Facing Inelastic Calling Range 

An inelastic calling range is when your opponent will call with all the same hands, regardless of your bet size. When you’re facing an inelastic calling range you want to extract as much value out of your opponent as possible—so bet as big as you think your opponent will call. Typically, this is 75-90% of the pot size, except if you’re on the river because the equity is fixed and you don’t need to worry about your opponent catching up.

You also want to bluff with the same bet size, so you remain balanced and hard to read. Ideally, value bet more than bluffing when you’re up against an inelastic calling range.

What If I Get Check-Raised?

  • Did you bet a size to induce bluffs or to maximize value?

While weighing your decision to continue check-raising or folding, ask yourself if your bet size would encourage your opponent to make a play for the pot or one they’d never try bluffing? Big bets can be advantageous in that you know you’ll get calls. Whereas sometimes, with small bets you think you’ve induced a bluff raise, but instead you’ve leveled yourself.

  • Most opponents are not capable of bluff-raising the river.

The truth is most people don’t consider bluffing or check-raised bluffing as a strategic option while on the river, so they fold.

  • Stick with your plan – bet/call or bluff/fold!

The key thing is, stick with the plan you made before you placed your river bet. Whether it’s to bet call or bet fold; usually your gut instinct is the right choice.

Finding The Perfect Bet Size

Go from rookie to professional poker player  by knowing how much to bet. Finding the perfect bet size is an essential skill in poker, one that will advance your game and get you stackin’!

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