Value Betting, an Easy Way to Maximize Winnings in Poker

May 24 2012 |

Many readers have been asking how to make more money at poker. This is a vague yet common question that I get often. There are many ways to start making more at poker, but in this article we will be discussing one of the easiest ways to maximize your bottom line. Value betting is one the best tools a poker player can have. Thin value is an ever-greater tool as it's what will separate you from the marginal players.

Thin value betting is when you have some type of made hand and are facing a scary board that could easily connect with your opponent. Based on how the hand plays out, you decide that your hand is best and look to extract some value by making a bet that targets the range you put your opponent on. This is tricky to do and requires solid hand reading skills, but once learned will be one of your greatest assets.

Let's look at a hand that exemplifies thin value betting and explain exactly how to read a board and the actions of your opponent to determine whether a value bet is warranted and just how much to bet. In this example the Hero is playing heads up against a player who is on the weaker side and has been shown to call down light. This read will be one of the keys to our decision on the river along with other smaller factors.

The hand starts with Hero raising KQ from the button. Villain calls and we see a flop. The flop is a bit draw heavy, containing 3 to a flush and possible straight draws. However, betting when heads up is by far the best option. The villain could have a ton of hands that will call here.

 

Value Betting in Poker

 

Our hero does bet slightly over half pot and gets a call from the villain. We can start to determine what the villain has here. His call is most likely a pair or a possible draw, the flush draw with a medium diamond would be most likely. There is a chance he could have the flush already but that's something we have to risk and will be the bottom of his range here.

The turn brings a blank and betting is again the best option. If raised we will likely have to fold since most low limit players will raise the turn only with the goods. A good bet sizing would be a little larger than 1/2 pot with aiming towards 3/4 the pot being the best option. The reason for wanting to bet a bit bigger on the turn is because if the villain does have a draw and misses the river, we will not be able to get any more value from our hand. Since Hero has a read that Villain calls light, our hero can get the most possible value from our hand on the turn and a big bet size is fine.

 

Value Betting in Poker

 

Our hero does bet on the bigger side, although personally I would prefer a larger sizing, but this is fine as well. The hand range we should be putting the villain on can now become more solid. He has called twice and is likely on a draw or has a weak pair. Hero should now feel confident his hand is best. If the river brings another blank, the hero should be looking to extract more value. If the river is a diamond or a card that would complete a straight Hero will likely have to check. This is also another reason for betting larger on the turn. There are many cards that can fall on the river that will shut down the action.

 

Value Betting in Poker

 

The river brings a blank and now a player should be looking for value. You should not be asking yourself if you have the best, but rather, how much you should bet. Our read should be that villain has a small pair or a missed draw. The bet sizing Hero chooses should be aimed towards that range. If he has a missed draw he will likely fold so no matter what we bet, it won't matter. But, since he could have other hands that will call, we need to make a bet that will be enticing for them to call. We also represent a missed draw which could get called by Ace high or pocket twos trying to play bluff catcher.

Our hero does bet and makes a good sizing at a little less than half pot. Villain mucks his hand and does not show what he had, but the result is what we should focus on. Using hand reading skills and perfect bet sizing, the hero played his opponent like a fiddle. To answer the ever-present question, this is one way you can make more money playing poker.

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