Bet Sizing and Goal Setting - Two Important Poker Betting Concepts


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When many novices start out in online poker, they make bets based on "feeling." In other words, there's no definite method behind their wagers; they just pick random sizes to accomplish a goal. And while this might make poker more fun and care-free, betting without a plan won't help you win long-term profits.

Instead, it's critical that you concentrate on both bet sizing and specific goals before any wager. That said, let's cover both of these topics further and discuss how they are interconnected with each other.

Bet Sizing

This term simply refers to the size of bet you make in any given situation. Before the flop, players normally use the blinds to measure bet sizes; so if the blinds were $1/$2 and you raised $8 preflop, you'd be betting 4x the big blind. After the flop, grinders like to use the pot size to determine their wager sizes; assuming the pot was $20 and you wagered $10, you'd be betting half the pot size. The reason why it's important to measure your bets is so that you can properly take advantage of good hands, while minimizing your risk during a steal or bluff. 

Goal Setting

Any time you make a bet or raise, there should be a very specific reason for doing so. For example, if you're in late position with a poor hand and you raise, the obvious purpose is to make others fold and steal the pot. Likewise, if you have the nuts and one player still remains in the hand, your goal should be to make as large of bets as possible without forcing them to fold (value betting).

Putting these Concepts Together

Just understanding the definitions of goal setting and bet sizing isn't enough; you also have to know how they work together. For instance, let's assume that you're in late position and think you can steal a hand from a weak-passive player. Based on your observations before, you think that the player would fold to a two-thirds pot size bet if they don't have a good hand. And if they do have a good hand, you minimize the amount of risk you're taking by only wagering two-thirds of the pot.

As for value betting, assume that you hold As-Ah on a board of Ac-3d-Ks; here you have the nuts, and if another player is willing to stay in the hand, you need to only bet as much as you think they're willing to call. By betting too big, it will scare them into folding so it's smarter to size your wagers accordingly.

In order for bet sizing and goal setting to work, you constantly need to pay attention to your opponents' play. By doing so, you'll have a much better idea of what they're willing to call or fold to in each situation.