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How to Pick the Right Bet Sizing in Every Poker Hand You Play


Of all the elements of poker strategy you could work on and improve, poker bet sizing is probably one of the most underrated.

The big difference between No Limit Hold’em and the various poker versions that came before it is the fact that you get to size up your bets any way you want to.

This allows endless options in all situations and makes Texas Hold’em into an art form, much different to limit poker variations that can be completely mathematically solved.

In this guide to bet sizing in poker, we will help you figure out the basic concepts of bet sizing and have a real plan on how to size up your bets the next time you play.

Let’s start with some basics and figure out our poker bet sizing before the flop is even dealt.

how to pick the right bet sizing in every poker hand you play

Preflop Bet Sizing – Opening the Pot

As a general rule of thumb in poker, you want to be the aggressor whenever possible. This allows you the option of your opponents folding and you picking up some chips without needing to make a hand.

While many weak players choose to limp in, you should always be opening the pot with a raise.

This is where bet sizing in poker comes into play for the first time, as we need to decide how much we are going to raise.

In poker tournaments, raising for just 2x the big blind or 2.5x the big blind will be enough, provided no player has limped in front of us.

If there are limpers before us, we should increase our raise by one big blind for every player limped into the pot. For example, if two players have limped, we should raise it to 4-4.5x the big blind.

In cash games, our default raise size will be 3x the big blind, with an extra big blind added for every limper in front of us.

You will also need to learn which hands to open from which position at the table but make sure to keep your raise size unchanged not to advertise the strength of your hand.

Since the topic of this guide is just bet sizing in poker, we can now move on and talk about how we want to size our re-raises before the flop.

how to pick the right bet sizing in every poker hand you play

Preflop 3-Bets and 4-Bets

In many cases, there will already be a raise in play by the time action is on us, so we will want to 3-bet when entering the pot most of the time.

Mainly you want to 3-bet your strong hands, but adding in some bluffs for balance is also recommended. But how much should you re-raise to?

Well, the absolute minimum size of a 3-bet should be 2.5x the raise you are facing, but 3x is a norm in most games. If the 3-bet is smaller than that, we are giving our opponents too good of a price on making a call.

If we have to play the hand out of position against the opener when 3-betting from the blinds, we should make our 3-bet even bigger. The last thing you want to do when 3-betting, is allow your opponents to cheaply see the flop with speculating holdings by giving him the right price to call.

The same goes for 4-betting, although we can definitely start sizing down when we are 4-betting. Since our range will be much stronger, we don’t need to go quite as large.

Facing a 3-bet after we have made an opening raise, we will want to 4-bet with our strongest hands. A raise of about 2.5x the 3-bet is usually best as it allows our opponent to stay in the hand but doesn't give them the right price since our range is so strong.

When choosing sizing for your 3-bets and 4-bets, you should also keep the effective stack size in mind and your position compared to your opponent’s. The deeper the stacks are, the more you should lean towards sizing up your raises.

Being out of position means you are almost always happy for your opponents to fold their cards preflop and let you take the chips already in the pot. One exception to this can be when you are holding a hand like AA or KK, but for the sake of balance, you should also raise the same sizes with these hands.

If you are playing opponents who are extremely unaware of what’s happening, you could get away with making bigger 3-bets and 4-bets with your monster hands, but you should be cautious when trying this.

how to pick the right bet sizing in every poker hand you play

Sizing Up Your Continuation Bets

One of the most frequent types of bets that we make in poker after the flop is the popular c-bet or continuation bet.

The goal of this bet is to continue building on the aggression we showed before the flop and take down the pot on the flop.

Being the preflop aggressor, we will often be betting out on the flop. We will do so with a wide range of hands, both those that have connected with the board and those that have not.

Whether we are bluffing or betting for value, we should generally use uniform betting sizes based on the board texture to ensure our range is balanced and our actual hand remains disguised.

When it comes to bet sizing in poker related to the c-bet, there is one general rule of thumb that you should remember.

  • C-bet big on dynamic boards (wet)
  • C-bet small on static boards (dry)

Dynamic boards allow our opponents more ways to connect, which means they will have more opportunities to continue if we fire out a small 30% bet.

On the other hand, if we fire out a big bet of 70% of the pot, our opponents may be forced to either give up their hand right away or face difficult decisions on further streets.

An example of a dynamic board would be Kd Jd 8h, where many hands connect by making either one pair or better or a strong draw.

On a board like this, we should c-bet less frequently than we would on dry boards, but our c-bets can be much bigger in comparison.

We can easily c-bet for 70% of the pot on this board with hands like AK, KQ, KJ, KK, JJ, 88, J8s, T9, QT, and any hand with two diamonds. On the other hand, we should generally not c-bet this board with a hand like 55 or 65s that we opened preflop but completely missed the board with.

Static boards, on the other hand, allow us to use much smaller bet sizes with a much higher frequency.

A board like 7d 3s 3c allows us to c-bet practically our entire range, as our opponent is very likely to have completely missed this board.

With this in mind, we can make a very small bet and expect to win the pot with a high frequency. Some opponents will float a board like this with a hand like QJ but easily release that hand to another bet on the turn, should they not improve.

When deciding on the bet size for your continuation bet, don’t think about the hand you hold but concentrate on the board texture and how your opponent’s range connects with the board.

how to pick the right bet sizing in every poker hand you play

Sizing Up Your Turn Bets

The turn is a very important street in Texas Hold’em. This is the point in the hand when hand ranges become much more defined, and a lot of pressure can be exerted. The pot is already quite big, even in a single raised pot, and our bets are starting to be for significant portions of our stacks.

What's more, bet sizes on the turn impact what happens on the river and allow us to prepare for river shoves.

Whether we bet small or big on the flop, depending on board texture, the turn is the time to bet big and polarize our range.

We no longer want to keep betting with any middling value hands, nor do we want to keep betting with bluffs that have very little equity.

Instead, we will continue betting with our strongest value bets worth three streets of value and our bluffs that still have a lot of equity.

To go back to our example of the Kd Jd 8h board, let us assume we bet big, and the turn came an insignificant 3s.

We will still want to bet our big hands like KK, JJ, 88, or KJ, as well as bluffs like Td9d, AdQd, or QdTd. On the other hand, this is the right time to check a hand like KQ or JT that still may be good at showdown but isn’t worth three streets of value.

These hands can be used as excellent bluff catchers on the river, and some of them can even be bet for value on good rivers.

The hands we do decide to bet, we should bet for 60-70% of the pot, getting ready to bet big on the river with our sets, our busted bluffs, and our bluffs that actually get there.

Sizing Up Your River Bets

Of all the streets in poker, the river is where bets get really big and where many players make a lot of mistakes, mostly by under-bluffing and not betting for value enough.

When the pots get big, we should usually have either really big hands or busted draws by the river, and exercising pot control with all other hands should make our river decisions easier.

When sizing up our river value bets and bluffs, we should ensure that they are big enough to get the desired results.

When bluffing on the river, using small bet sizes will often not work because our opponents no longer need to worry about bets on future streets.

Since our opponents are likely to “look us up” if we bet small because of good pot odds, we must size up our bluffs. This, conversely, means that we get to bet big with value hands as well.

Many players make the mistake of making their value bets on the river too small, and while this does get them paid more often, many hands that will pay off a small bet will also end up calling a bigger bet, expecting that we may be bluffing.

The river is the right time for some really big bets, including huge 120% of the pot overbets that still get paid more often than you would expect.

Since we are betting big, we should value betting much more often than bluffing and only continue bluffing with some hands that contain cards that block our opponents from having the nuts.

Of course, everything is a bit more complicated than this and depends on your and your opponent's ranges, but these are good guidelines to follow when you are unsure how to proceed.

Be Mindful of the Stack Sizes

The effective stack size and the stack-to-pot ratio should be two factors that heavily impact your poker bet sizing decisions.

When you have a value hand, your goal should be to try and get all your money into the middle by showdown.

Since we will be playing our value hands and bluffs the same way, we should always be looking to size up our bets to allow us to progressively bet our entire stack.

This means that in 3-bet and 4-bet pots, we can easily size down our flop and turn bets, which still allows us to get all our money in by the river.

Of course, keep in mind that the smaller your bets are, the less often our bluffs need to work, which means we get to keep bluffing more in such spots as the aggressor.

The Art of Poker Bet Sizing

Poker bet sizing is truly an art & a science and is one of the most important aspects of any player’s poker game.

With so many options on every street of every hand, bet sizing is the one thing that separates the best poker players from the rest.

If you want to fall into the category of great players, I highly recommend spending some time in poker solvers and finding out how the computer thinks about bet sizing in various spots.

You will start recognizing patterns and figuring out which types of hands work well for small or big bet sizing on different boards and just how often you should bet on different textures in general.

how to pick the right bet sizing in every poker hand you play

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