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Real Poker: Adjusting Bet-Sizes to the Situation

by Roy Cooke |  Published: Aug 30, 2017


I often hear that there are two main reasons to bet, to make a worse hand call, or a better hand fold. But there are more motivations to bet than those two. Amongst other reasons, you often bet to deny your opponent his equity.

Not only can you bet to remove his equity, but sizing your bet larger in vulnerable situations can either lower an opponent’s calling expected value (EV) or eliminate his equity entirely should he fold a hand he would call a smaller wager with. Additionally, betting and/or sizing large can often narrow an opponent’s range and create an easier to read situation that has value later in the hand.

A reasonably solid ABC player, about $400 deep, raised to $15 in the cutoff in a $2-$5 no-limit hold’em game. Having him covered, I peered down to the 10Spade Suit 9Spade Suit on the button. Thinking he would fold a significant portion of his wide late position opening range, I three-bet to $50. Both blinds folded, but Mr. ABC called. $105 in the pot.

The flop came the 10Heart Suit 8Spade Suit 3Club Suit, giving me top pair, weak kicker, a three-straight and a three-flush. Mr. ABC checked to me. I contemplated how the hand would play in differing scenarios and weighed my best move. When he called my three-bet, I thought his range was strong, mostly medium pairs, 8-8 through Q-Q, or powerful broadways, A-J suited+. In a previous hand I’d seen him call a 40 percent PSB (pot-sized bet) flop bet with A-Q suited on a low board after being three-bet preflop in a similar situation. And he bet after a turn check when a king came on the river.

I thought about how a 50 percent PSB would play. 8-8 and 10-10 would be sets and he’d either slowplay or check-raise. 9-9 would be a hand I’d definitely like a call from. A-K wouldn’t be getting the correct price against my holding, but with future bets considered, would create problems if he either caught a card or represented a stronger hand. If he called, I assumed the risk of getting drawn out on, betting the worst hand on the turn and/or having to call or possibly folding the best hand.

However, if I bet larger, I thought he’d fold any overcards. This would define his hand and narrow his ranges for my turn and river decisions, making them easier. Since there was significant money in the pot, winning it immediately had greater value than if the pot was small. It also removed some of the scenarios in which I lost the pot on future streets, and my hand was a vulnerable one. Additionally, since my flop bet would be a low EV bet against his calling ranges should he play it well, and the EV of most future bets would be close, the value of any missed bets wasn’t much to give up. The money currently in the pot was what I was fighting for.

I fired $85 into the pot. He thought for a while and folded. If he had called, my immediate thoughts were to check the turn and not call any future wagers unless I improved. That said, while I had concocted a future plan, I knew enough to think through the situation, adjust to any new information, and not just automatically react to my previous thoughts.

The hand speaks to varying your bet sizing to the current situation. In this case I was betting larger than normal because my hand was vulnerable not just to my opponent’s holding, but his play options, thereby increasing the value of winning the pot outright. Betting larger denied my opponent the equity of part of his range and further defined his hand, making my future decisions easier should he call.

All that said, you vary the size of your bet only when your opponent(s) cannot read your intent. If you are readable and your opponent is capable of making plays off that read, your bet-sizing play has lost much, if not all of its value. In this case, since my opponent had seen me play few hands, he didn’t have the necessary information to read my sizing’s intent.

Don’t just stick with a standard bet size for ease of thought. Think through what you are looking to accomplish against your opponents’ range, how the hand will play and size your bet accordingly.

Bet-sizing is important to your EV; get it right! ♠

Roy CookeRoy Cooke played poker professionally for 16 years prior to becoming a successful Las Vegas Real Estate Broker/Salesman. Should you wish any information about Real Estate matters-including purchase, sale or mortgage his office number is 702-376-1515 or Roy’s e-mail is His website is Roy’s blogs and poker tips are at You can also find him on Facebook or Twitter @RealRoyCooke. Please see ad below!



over 4 years ago

Any thoughts on the disadvantages of c-betting so large on such a dry board ?