Bet Sizing in Texas Hold Em

written by: John

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Bet sizing in Texas Holdem, or any poker game for that matter, is an important fundamental that many players seem to lack. Some players bet too much, others bet too little and some don't bet at all. However, to be a successful player, it's not only important to know when to bet, but to know how much to bet in order to maximize profits when you're ahead and minimize losses when you may be behind.

In this article, I will cover the basics to proper bet sizing in Texas Hold'em. This will include pre and post flop play as well as specific situations that you need to be aware of when deciding how much to bet.

Preflop Bet Sizing in Holdem

Opinions may vary, but a standard preflop raise size is going to be about 4 times the big blind. So if you are playing 1/2 no limit hold'em, then your raise is going to be about $8. You can make it a little less if you like, say 2.5 to 3 times the big blind, but you'll find that 4 times is the most common.

Now, when other players have entered the pot, you need to add 1 big blind per limper. So if you had two limpers and you wanted to make a raise, you would raise 6 times (4x + 1x + 1x) the big blind which would be $12 at a 1/2 game.

This is just a default bet size. There are other considerations when making your preflop bets:

Stack Sizes: You will want to take in the remaining players' stack sizes when determining how much to bet. If a player or several players are short, you might want to bet a little smaller to avoid being committed to making a call if you are shoved on. Additionally, betting smaller will also make 3bets smaller as well allowing you to call 3-bets with a wider range of hands.

Player Tendencies: Again, 4 times the big blind is a general rule of thumb, nothing more. You can and should adjust your bet sizing to the types of players you have at your table. The looser the player, the more you can bet for value. The exact amount will vary, but you can bet as much as 6 or 8 times the big blind if you feel a player will call. Please note you wouldn't raise this much if you were trying to steal, only if you were trying to get value out of your hand from an extremely loose player.

If you are at a table full of nits, you might bet less to induce action. You might also want to bet less if you are stealing a lot to avoid losing much in the situations where you're called.

3+ betting sizes will vary on the factors outlined above with more emphasis on stack sizes and whether you plan on calling or folding to a 4-bet. But as a default, I will make my 3-bets roughly 2.5 to 3 times the size of the initial raise. So if someone opened the pot at a 10nl cash game to $.40, I would make my 3-bet anywhere from a $1 to $1.20. 

Post Flop Betting

One of the biggest differences in post flop betting in comparison to preflop betting is that your bet sizes now will be in relation to the size of the pot instead of big blinds. So for example, if you have a pot size of $10, you would bet a fraction of that.

My standard post flop bet size would be no less than 1/2 the pot ($5) and not much higher than 3/4 the size of the pot ($7.50). My bet sizing will once again be determined by the factors outlined in the preflop betting section in addition to board texture and the direction I'd like the hand to go in.

Here are things I consider when making my post flop bets as well as general guidelines to how big or small I make my bets.

Continuation Betting: My c-bets are at the very least half the size of the pot and almost never more than about 3/5 (60%) of the pot. The reasoning for this is that c-bets are often times a bluff since you will miss the flop a majority of the time. By keeping your bets small, you are risking less to win the same amount as well as losing less when you are called and beaten. So using a $10 pot as an example at a $1/$2 game, my c-bet size would be about $5.50 to $6.00.

Draw-y Boards: The more draws that are possible, the more you will want to bet if you have a hand like top pair, two pair or a set. In these situations, I will bet 60-75% of the pot and maybe more depending on how many players are in the hand. It's important that you bet a significant amount to give your opponents improper odds to draw to flushes and straights.

Dry Boards: If a board is dry, say a rainbow board with one face card and two baby cards, I will bet a little smaller with a hand like middle or top pair. In a $10 pot, I would probably bet about $6. The reasoning for this is that I don't want to fold out worse hands, but want to keep them so I can get value from them.

Multi-way Pots: If a hand is multi-way, I'll generally bet more with a hand like top pair if there are any sort of draws possible. I would probably bet anywhere from 80 to 100% of the size of the pot. The biggest reason for this is if you get one caller behind you, the odds improve for the next guy. The more players that call, the better the odds get. So I will always bet more in a pot where several players are involved.

The most important aspect to bet sizing post flop is that more is going to be better more often than not without over betting the pot. This is because:

• You want to charge for draws.

• You want value for your hand.

• If you have a monster hand, you want to be able to stack someone. This will be impossible without over betting the pot if you are betting in small increments.

There are a few exceptions to this:

For Pot Control: You want to keep the pot small because you're unsure of where you're at or have a marginal hand.

For Deception: You bet small to seem weak and induce a bluff or re-raise from a worse hand.

Besides those two exceptions, you should always bet around the neighborhood of 60-75% of the pot for the reasons outlined above.

Min Bets & Raises

A common bet that more players are using nowadays is the min-bet or min-raise. It's suggested that you say away from these types of bets because they often give players odds to call with a wider range of hands and they don't earn you as much value for your stronger hands. If you don't want to make a standard raise, you're much better off just not raising at all.

The one exception to this is if you want to induce a re-raise or shove with a monster holding. But for this to work, you need to be sure that there is an opponent left to act after you that is likely to do that. If not, you're just giving good odds for those who are holding marginal hands that can crack your monster.

So, as a rule of thumb, just don't bother with min bets or min raises.

Bet Sizes in Texas Hold'em

Bet sizes in Texas Hold'em are essentially a reflection of what you want to achieve. Do you need to protect your hand against draws? Or are you trying to get value from worse hands, maybe even induce re-raise or bluff?

Once you have an idea of what you are trying to accomplish with your hand you'll find that bet sizing in Texas Hold'em is a fundamental that is quite simple to grasp.