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Value Betting

If you've played the game of poker for a while, you've probably heard the term "value bet," but what exactly is a value bet? A value bet is a bet made on the river when you believe you have the best hand, but bet small in order to get called. Normally the term refers to betting mediocre hands, as opposed to strong hands.

Learning how to value bet well is not easy, but it is well worth the effort. Proper value betting can easily account for half the profits of a good player.

First you need to understand when its a good idea to value bet. One common scenario is when you have second best pair on drawless board (i.e. one where no flush or straight hit). For example, let's say you had AJ and raised modestly pre-flop. The flop came QJ5 with a flush draw and you bet out for half the pot. Your opponent called and then you both checked the 3 turn. The river is another 3 and the flush misses. At this point you know your opponent probably doesn't have you beat. It is unlikely they played a Q so passively and no draw has hit. Most of the time, your opponent will either have a busted draw, a weaker J, or perhaps a pocket pair. If they have a busted draw, they are going to fold to any bet, but if they have a J or pair they might call a modest bet, thinking you are trying to buy. Thus, a value bet is in order.

Another scenario where value betting is wise is when you have a big hand that is potentially ruined by the river. For example, lets say you have KQ on a KQ3 board and bet out 3/4 the pot. One player calls and the turn is a 7. You are winning the vast majority of the time here and bet out 3/4 of the pot again. Your opponent calls and the river is a 9, potentially putting a straight on the board. Against a good player it is unlikely they have the draw, but a weak player might. You want a hand like K10 to call again, but you don't want to put too much money in the pot in case your opponent has hit the draw. Thus, you need to value bet your two pair.

Once you recognize a situation where value betting is a wise play, you need to decide how much to bet. Ideally, you want to bet an amount that will make your opponent hesitate, but call. The idea is to extract as much cash as possible from an inferior hand. However, you don't want to over bet either. Occasionally you will be beat by an unlikely hand, and you don't want to lose a bundle in those situations. For most situations a 1/4 to 1/2 pot sized bet works well, but there are situations where a smaller or large value bet is in order.

The more experience you get, the better you will become at estimating the correct size of a potential value bet. Of course, each opponent is different so having a good read is also helpful.

JackRag


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