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Explain Poker Like I'm Five: Value Bet

Series Teaches You The Basics Of Poker Strategy And Terminology


When you’ve played poker for years, it’s easy to forget that technical poker speak may as well be a different language. Many players just picked up a deck of cards for the first time and are wondering what the hell a reverse implied range merge against a large stack to pot ratio is.

Maybe you are new to poker as well and want to start analyzing the game at a deeper level, but the lingo and foreign concepts get in the way. To help, _Card Player_ brings you this brand new series, Explain Poker Like I’m Five.

Every issue, we’ll take on a new term or idea, perhaps one you might come across elsewhere in this very magazine, and we’ll break it down to its simplest components.

The Concept: Value Bet

What Is It?

A bet made with the intention of being called in order to extract more money or chips from a likely worse hand. Value bets are made when a player’s hand has a positive expectation.

Okay, Now Explain It Like I’m Five

A value bet is the opposite of a bluff. When you are bluffing, you want your opponents to fold. When you are value betting, you want them to call. You are betting to get more from your opponent because you have the best hand and are more likely to win at showdown. Value bets can also include raises, which increases the size of a pot when it induces other players to call.

Give Me An Example (Or Two)

When you have the best poker hand, you want to extract as much money, or chips in a tournament situation, as possible from your opponents. This is accomplished with a value bet. Let’s say you hold a made hand like ADiamond Suit JDiamond Suit on a board reading KClub Suit QClub Suit 5Club Suit 10Heart Suit 4Spade Suit and the pot size is $120. You hold the nuts with a Broadway straight and are looking to make the best value bet possible.

If you believe your opponent holds a value hand like a set, a lower straight, or two pair, then you will want to make a large river value bet between $80-$120, in order to earn the maximum. If you think your opponent holds a weaker hand like one pair, then perhaps you want to size your value bet at around $30-$50 in order to get a crying call.

The goal is to bet as much as possible without making your opponent fold. If your opponent would be more likely to call $80 and less likely to call $100, then you want size your value bet in a way that encourages a call.

When a player folds to your value bet, it means you sized your bet incorrectly. Of course, if your opponent snap calls your value bet, then perhaps it means he or she would’ve called more and you sized your bet incorrectly. It’s important to consider your opponent’s range and to find a proper balance when choosing a value bet size.

Of course, value bets don’t just occur on the river. A hand like QDiamond Suit QSpade Suit is still vulnerable on a board like QHeart Suit JHeart Suit 9Spade Suit 3Heart Suit. The key is to value bet the perfect amount that will be called, while also making it unprofitable for your opponent to chase with a draw. Any time your opponent calls without getting the right price, you have forced him into making a mistake. ♠