Something people ask me about all the time these days is how to get paid off with their big hands. Sometimes they can't even get calls when they value bet hands like top pair or middle pair either!
One of the main reasons for this is playing too tight. As the famous saying goes, "you have to give action to get action." You can't sit around waiting for the nuts all day and expect people to be lining up to pay you off.
But secondly, a lot of the time the issue is simply the bet sizing itself. The great thing about no-limit hold'em is that you can bet any amount that you want at any time. A lot of people forget this and they end up costing themselves a lot of money by either betting too much or too little when they want a call.
In this article, I am going to discuss how to make bet sizes at the micros that your opponents won't be able to resist calling.
1. Understand Their Range
The first thing you need to think about before you make any bet size in poker is what range of hands your opponent is likely to have. This is especially important on the later streets where you can narrow down their range considerably.
For instance, say you raised preflop with a strong hand like and you bet the entire way on this board: .
What range of hands should you put your opponent on by the river?
Well, it's pretty narrow. Most of the time your opponent is going to either have the ace as well or be on a missed draw with a hand like .
Now obviously there is no amount on earth that is going to get your opponent to call you with ten-high. But there is definitely a right and a wrong bet size to maximize your calls from all those worse hands.
This is the crucial bit of analysis many people fail to do before making their value bets. You need to figure out what their range is and then ask yourself what amount can they call.
Better yet, put yourself in their position with their range, and ask yourself how much you would be willing to call.
2. Don't Bomb the Pot When They Are Weak
The number one mistake most people make is betting far too much when their opponent is weak. The hand above is a perfect example of that.
It would be a serious mistake to bet pot or 80 percent of the pot in this spot, even though it might seem natural to want to make a big bet because you want to get "paid off." But this is failing to put yourself in the other player's shoes and really consider what amount your opponent can actually call here.
Any halfway decent thinking player even at the lower stakes these days is not going to pay off your pot-sized bet on the river, not even with a hand as strong as . This is because such players know you are repping incredible strength here and despite how pretty their hand looks, they are really only beating a total airball bluff at this point.
Likewise, if the player has any other hand with which he could consider making a hero call like , , or even , you have just priced out those hands as well. You made the decision to fold very easy for your opponent.
The correct bet size in this situation would be something around half-pot. If I know I am up against a really weak player who is capable of making crazy hero folds, then I might even bet 20 or 30 percent of the pot in order to make it impossible for him to lay it down.
Making sure you always get calls on the river from worse hands in spots like these is absolutely crucial to your success in poker. This is because the average pot size is the largest on this street. Even if you are only betting a fraction of the pot, this can easily amount to 5 or 10 big blinds, or even more. These missed bets add up in a huge way over the long run.
Bottom line — don't greedily bomb the pot when they are certainly weak.
3. Charge the Absolute Maximum When They Are Strong
Now on the other side of the coin, you can easily get away with making some enormous bets and getting called if you know that your opponents are strong. This is something that I talked about at length in my first book Crushing the Microstakes because it works especially well against the recreational players.
The reason why this is the case is because bad players can't fold full houses, straights and flushes. Heck, most of the time they can't fold sets, trips or two-pair hands either.
In situations like this where I absolutely know that my opponent is strong and can't fold a hand to save his life, I will never let him off the hook. I will charge him the absolute maximum. Sometimes I will even overbet or just shove.
Here is a classic example of a board where this situation might arise: . If I am playing against a recreational player in particular and I have a hand like , or here, I will be betting very big, sometimes just shoving.
If there is any chance that a fun player like this has a full house with , , , , or , there is no way on earth he is folding.
He is very likely going to call a 10 BB bet just as sure as he will call 30 BB, 50 BB or even more. It would therefore be a colossal mistake for your poker win rate to bet a small amount here.
The key to making bet sizes that get you paid off when playing online poker at the lower stakes revolves around understanding the player type and what range of hands your opponents are likely to have.
One of the biggest reasons people lose so much value — especially on the river — is because they bet too much when their opponent is weak and too little when their opponent is strong.
Since the average pot size is the largest on the river, this is serious amount of money to be leaking. And it will add up in a big way over the long run.
Always make sure you are putting yourself in your opponent's shoes before you make a bet in poker. Consider exactly what they can have and what amount they can call, and size your value bets accordingly.
Nathan "BlackRain79" Williams is the author of the popular micro stakes strategy books Crushing the Microstakes and Modern Small Stakes. He also blogs regularly about all things related to the micros over at www.blackrain79.com.