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Most players are not aware that they are making bet sizing mistakes, and unfortunately, that ends up costing them a lot of money in the long run.
If you get less value than you could in most of your hands or lose more than you should with weaker holdings, this quickly adds up and negates your win rate even to the point where it might not be worth playing at all.
The worst part is that it is not so easy to learn on your own. Of course, you can work with solvers to get the feeling for various situations or even join a poker training site to brush your skills, but if you cannot avoid common mistakes, you will have a lot of trouble moving up.
Today, I want to share three simple yet very effective tips for picking proper bet sizing with you.
Do Not Choose Sizing Just Based on the Strength of Your Hand
One of the most common mistakes amateur players make is that they bet bigger when they have a monster with the hope of extracting more value, but that is not the most profitable play in the long run.
Most players have already learned to stick with a fixed sizing when opening preflop and varying that by their position rather than the actual hand, but the same approach must be used post-flop as well.
The most important parts that should determine your sizing are your range and board texture. Instead of looking at the absolute strength of your Texas Holdem hand, try to evaluate the board texture and how well it fits your range.
If you think about these variables, it will be easy to choose your bet sizing not only to get more value but also to manipulate your opponents to play in a way that is more convenient for you.
If you have a dry board that favors your range, going for a smaller bet and forcing your opponent to continue with a wide range might be a good option. On the other hand, if you are ahead on a wet board, you might want to bet bigger to protect your range.
Once again, this is based on your entire range, not the individual hand you are holding, which makes a significant difference. If you learn to base your sizing on that instead of your hand, it will be much harder to read you, so the other players will naturally make more mistakes.
There are a lot of trackers and software that can show your c-bet success percentage based on different sizing on various boards, so you can use that to see what works in your game and then stick to proven strategies.
Never Forget Stack to Pot Ratio
Another extremely common mistake is not evaluating SPR (stack to pot ratio) and putting yourself in awkward situations.
For the most part, if your stack to pot ratio is on the smaller side, you need to choose smaller bets. This will help you control the flow of the hand and not commit yourself to play it till the end when not needed. On top of that, you are likely to reach the same results as with a bigger sizing when you are bluffing, since your opponent will not risk calling with a weak hand if he only has a few chips to spare no matter how much you bet.
Naturally, this dictates that you should use bigger sizing when you are deep because your opponents have better implied odds, so you do not want to let them cheaply chase their draws.
Either way, always make sure to choose the sizing to leave yourself with a playable stack. Getting to the river with only 10% of pot size bet will not help you play that spot or take advantage of your opponents, no matter how bad they are. So always plan in advance and calculate your bet sizing.
Exploit Weaker Players by Using Proper Bet Sizing
One sure way to increase your win rate is to learn how to manipulate weaker players by choosing specific sizing against them. Some of them will call you off no matter how much you bet, so sticking to smaller sizing with strong hands will surely force you to leave a lot of money at the table.
Even if you know that the standard play is to bet small on a specific board since it is clearly better for you, you can go big against passive recreational players. As mentioned above, these players do not care how much you bet for the most part and only consider their own holdings.
For example, if you are playing against such a player and have pocket jacks on a A A J 7 4, you can massively overbet the river and even shove for several pot size bets since your opponent probably will not be able to fold an ace no matter what. Of course, this play will not work against serious players, but when you are up against one who only sees his hand, it can turn out to be a gold mine.
I have won many massive pots this way, which theoretically should not have been that big, but noticing your opponents and adjusting versus them can take you very far in this game.
Luckily, bet sizing is one of the easiest ways to do it, so make sure to think it through the next time you are playing.
About the Author
Tadas Peckaitis is a professional poker player, author, and poker coach at mypokercoaching.com. He writes for a range of online publications and helps other poker players to excel. If you are looking to up your game or find interesting information about poker, you can follow him on Twitter and Facebook.