Preflop Bet Sizing Mistakes Like This Will Ruin Your Poker Results
When people ask me what the most important street in poker is, my answer is always the same — preflop.
It isn't difficult to see why this is true. Every hand starts before the flop and so if you make any mistakes on this street it can have a snowball effect on the entire rest of the hand.
In fact, in my experience having coached hundreds of poker players struggling at the lower stakes, this is one of the most common issues that I have found. They make fundamental mistakes preflop, either in bet sizing or hand selection, and it puts them into all sorts of terrible spots later on in the hand. These are bad situations by the way that winning poker players never get themselves into in the first place.
This is why it is so important that you have your preflop game down. Bet sizing for raising first in, three-betting, and four-betting should all be essentially completely automatic. In other words, you shouldn't even need to think about it at all.
Here is a hand for example where we see just how important preflop bet sizing is and how it can significantly affect your poker results.
Pocket queens is the third-best hand in hold'em, so it is an automatic raise in a 6-max game from all positions. Queens should also be an automatic three-bet in this particular situation when a recreational player opens for a min-raise under the gun.
The problem, though, is that Hero in this hand failed to reraise it to the correct amount. I would suggest making it at least 20 cents to go here versus a recreational player at NL2 online.
Mistakes like this — only making it 6 cents to go — will have a massive negative impact on your long term win rate because pocket Q-Q will be one of your absolute biggest winning hands.
I get it — misclicks happen. I used to mass multi-table for many, many years playing 20 or 30 tables at once. I made countless crazy misclicks because of this.
But in this hand Hero is actually saved when the action gets reopened after him. Therefore, it is absolutely imperative that he five-bets here to something like 50 cents. Just calling here with the third-best hand in hold'em is a massive fundamental mistake because you are not getting anywhere near enough money into the pot when you have a massive advantage.
You are basically just letting the entire table see a cheap flop with their speculative hands like:
And so on.
The primary reason why hands like A-A, K-K, and Q-Q are such big long term winners is because you can punish hands like this and make them pay a big price to try and draw out on you. When you fail to do this at the lower stakes (where they already love to call in general), you are literally just throwing away money.
It also puts you into all sorts of terrible postflop situations like we see in this hand where it is five-handed and pocket queens has an overpair on a very draw-heavy low board. When the action gets crazy, as it does in this hand, it puts us in an impossible situation where we have absolutely no clue what to do.
The answer to this puzzle, as winning poker players already know, is to never put yourself into horrible situations like this in the first place! That comes from understanding fundamental preflop bet sizing and playing a hand like pocket Q-Q correctly right from the start.
Let me know your thoughts on this poker hand in the comments below. How do you play your pocket queens preflop?
Links mentioned in the video:
Nathan "BlackRain79" Williams is the author of the popular micro stakes strategy books Crushing the Microstakes, Modern Small Stakes, and The Microstakes Playbook. He also blogs regularly about all things related to the micros over at www.blackrain79.com.