Sep 7 2010

Analyzing Bets and Bet Sizes

written by: John under Poker Strategy Comments: 1

Bet sizes are one of the biggest tells or reads that you will be able to gain on your opponents. Depending on the situation, a small bet could mean value or it could mean a complete bluff. By contrast, a big bet could also mean that it is for value or as a bluff. The key to accurately determining whether a bet is for value or as a bluff (or something in between) is to critically analyze the context clues.

Context clues are usually referenced when reading a book or hearing a story, but in the end, each hand of poker is like a story playing out one chapter at a time. By using the information readily available to you, it will be that much easier to deduce what information is not given. Poker players are often told that they have amazing reading skills or spectators comment on how “psychic” they are, but the reality is that picking off and discerning what a bet means is nothing more than careful speculation.

How to Analyze Bet Sizes

Properly analyzing bet sizes is something that players learn in time and with a lot of practice. Very few players have these skills worked into their games from the day they start playing. As your experience builds upon itself, reading a bet size will become easier and easier.

The information available to you will almost always be the easiest way to determine exactly what any particular bet means. Now, you are not going to be right every time or even close to every time, but this doesn’t mean that you can’t be consistent. If a player opens pre-flop, bets on the flop, and then check raises the turn, there is a legitimate shot that they have a big hand regardless of the bet size. However, if a player opens pre-flop, makes a smallish bet on the flop, then makes a bit bigger bet on the turn, they could very well be going for a double barrel.

Bets for value are typically the easiest to identify. A player who check raises the flop, especially after limping in or flat calling a raise pre-flop, almost always has a big hand. Many players will check raise the flop with sets, two pair type hands, and anything bigger. Likewise, a turn check raise is also indicative of a big hand. There aren’t too many players who can effectively pull off check raises as bluffs. Players who make lead bets are the most likely to be bluffing. They will fire out many bullets in a row. This is their way of trying to force you off of a hand. Flat calls will seldom be bluffs unless the player was trying to float you. If this is the case, beware, because floats can be very difficult to spot. Careful analyzation is what separates the winners from the losers in poker, with bet sizing and otherwise. Don’t try to make bet sizes and tendencies more complicated than they need to be. Simple assessment will truly go a long way, especially in smaller stakes games.

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