Varying From Standard Betting Strategies

With strong made hands, we don’t mind getting all-in, but can sometimes benefit more from a smaller bet sizing. We typically want to do this when our opponent’s range is likely very weak. Take this example:

Example #12.22:

No-Limit Hold’em, $0.50 BB (6 handed)

UTG ($57.50)
HJ ($53.79)
CO ($28.15)
Hero (Button) ($21.39) SB ($74.75)

BB ($48.50)
Preflop: Hero is Button with Q♥, K♣

3 folds, Hero bets $1,1 fold, BB calls $0.50

Flop: ($2.25) 7♣, 3♠, Q♦ (2 players)
BB checks, Hero bets $1.13, BB calls $1.13
A very dry board, so there is no rush to get all-in. 10% of our stack is almost a pot-sized bet, but that seems way too big based on opponent’s unlikelihood to have connected with this board. We opt for a half-pot bet.

Turn: ($4.51) K♥ (2 players)
BB checks, Hero bets $2.26, BB calls $2.26
We turn top two pair which improves almost none of our opponent’s range except for maybe a random float with JT or Kx. The king likely hurt my opponent’s range, so anything more than half pot seems like a gross over bet. I actually don’t mind a bet of around $1.50 to try and induce a raise from a float, but the half pot bet is more standard to try and continue building a pot.

River: ($9.03) 8♥ (2 players)
BB checks, Hero bets $4.52, BB calls $4.52
The eight doesn’t complete any draws and further hurts any 7x or small pair type hands. There is not much that will pay off a substantial river bet except maybe 87, and we might get a raise from that hand anyway. So a small bet of anywhere from $3.00 to half pot seems appropriate. If your read on your opponent is that he is a station, then you should tend to err on the large size with any value bet.

Total pot: $18.07 | Rake: $0.90 Results:

Hero had Q♥, K♣ (two pair, Kings and Queens).
BB had A♠7♠ (one pair, Sevens).
Outcome: Hero won $17.17.
Our opponent makes a hero call with 4th pair. Had we bet bigger at any point during the hand, it is likely that we would have elicited a fold. By taking a “showdown value” line with a strong holding, we were able to get much more value against our opponent’s overall weak range. ____________________________________________________________

Another added benefit to taking a showdown value line with your premium hands is that it balances your range. Sometimes playing strong hands the same way you play your weaker ones will make you harder to read against expert opponents. This type of consideration will become even more important as you move up in stakes.

The main theme of this chapter has been using bet sizing to manipulate our opponents into making mistakes and doing what we want them to. You have learned to form a street-by-street strategy for betting based on both the strength of your hand and the texture of the board. So far, the focus of this chapter has been in situations where you have initiative. But what if you were not the pre-flop raiser?

Sizing Raises And Reraises

Since it is rare to go to the flop without the initiative, you will not have to worry too often about making raises or reraises unless your own bet gets raised. But there are certain instances that may warrant making pre-flop calls, whether it is when defending against a min-raise from a wide range stealer, or whether you make a profitable call dictated by implied odds.

As a small stack, after raising or reraising a bet post-flop, the majority of the time you will not have enough money behind to make a significant bet on the next street. Therefore, nine times out of ten you will be shoving all-in when you raise. There are a few specific instances, however, when you may want to raise a bit less. These include:

1. Your stack size is big enough that a raise can still leave you a reasonable-sized shove on the next street.

2. There are not many cards that can kill the action on the next street.

3. You hold a monster, and a smaller raise is more likely to get action.

A good example of this is while holding a tier 1 hand against an aggressive opponent. If the board is dry and he has either bet or made a small raise against you, then this is an excellent time to make a small 25% effective stack raise or a min-raise. It gives him the chance to either call with the weaker parts of his range or bluff shove over you with his air hands.

Against passive players, this type of line will not work often enough to make it worthwhile. You are generally just better off shoving it all-in, if strength has been shown, since it is much less likely that this type of player will have any weak hands in his range. Just get it in immediately while your opponent appears to be willing to do so.

Now that you know when to bet and raise, let’s discuss how to navigate the infrequent situations where you can consider calling a post-flop bet.

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