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Given a flush drawer and two same color cards on the flop in this example, I would have ~33% chance to get the flush on the turn or river. If there's a 160 chip pot, I bet 60, always about 33%. Does this bet sizing statistically pay out? I do this by instinct and it seems to work against amateur players overestimating their chances at the showdown. But I'm not sure how it would influence their fold equity if I changed the bet size a bit.

  • It seems you're basing your flop bet size on your chances of improving by the river. What do you do on the turn when you're called on the flop and the turn hasn't helped? – Dr.DrfbagIII Jan 7 '16 at 14:43
  • I usually check/fold with 17% chance left to have the perfect hand at the showdown. – Rápli András Jan 7 '16 at 16:35
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    your approach is very wrong, good answers below. You should never "always" do the same thing in poker. You will be destroyed. – Jon Jan 7 '16 at 18:54
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It's good that you're considering pot odds when drawing to a hand, but your way of thinking about this is flawed for a few reasons (the third reason being the biggest).

For one, the pot odds you get/give on the flop should only be compared to your odds of improving on the turn; after all, the turn will bring another round of possible betting where everything will have to be re-evaluated. The only exception to this is if your bet is closing all future betting in the hand (due to being all-in).

Secondly, if it's true that your chances of improving are ~33% and your intent is to essentially give yourself exactly that for pot odds by betting ~33% of the pot, you're not counting the potential call from your opponent which will increase the pot. For your example of betting 60 into a 160 pot, the opponent's call of 60 actually gives you pot odds of 220:60. If you were to instead bet 80 and he calls, you're getting 240:80 which is 3 to 1. From your question, I just wasn't sure if you understood that from a pot odds perspective.

But most importantly I think you're confusing the way to approach a draw from the angle of betting versus calling. When faced with a bet and you want to know whether to call, that's when you look at the pot odds in the way you were trying to and in the way I describe above. But betting with a draw is a whole different matter--pot odds aren't the main point. After all, the best pot odds you can get come from checking and having nobody bet; that's infinity pot odds!

When you bet with a draw, it's a semi-bluff. You don't have a hand with value, but it could become one. So the main goal of the bet is to have your opponents fold, as would be the goal for any bluff. Being able to hit a draw and win if your bet is called is the back-up plan, a kind of insurance.

Knowing that, the optimal bet size is going be something that maximizes the chance of your opponent folding while minimizing the risk of putting in too many chips when you're still on a draw. Take your hand where you have a flush draw and bet 60 into the pot of 160. For the sake of simplicity and illustration let's just say that there won't be any more betting on the other rounds. Perhaps there's a 25% chance that your opponent simply folds to your bet.

Then 25% of the time you win 160. Of the other 75% of times, 1/3 of the time you will hit the flush and win 220 chips (what's in the pot already plus a call) and the other 2/3 of the time you will lose your bet of 60. So you expect on average to make: (.25 * 160) + (.75 * .33 * 220) - (.75 * .66 * 60) = 24.75 chips.

Let's pretend that if you bet twice as much then the chance of your opponent folding goes up to 50%. The new calculation is then: (.50 * 160) + (.50 * .33 * 280) - (.50 * .66 * 120) = 86.6.5 chips.

That's quite a difference that comes just from having the opponent fold more often even though your "pot odds" aren't right. That's what makes semi-bluffs a powerful tool of aggressive poker, but there needs to be a decent chance of the opponent folding. If you just checked with the hand above and there was no more betting, you'd win (.33 * 160) = 52.8 chips on average. That's actually more than you get by betting 60 and having the opponent fold just 25% of the time--there is a balancing act to consider here.

In real life situations, it's not so easy to determine how often your opponent will fold to a bet for different pot sizes, but that will come with experience and by paying attention to your opponents and their tendencies. My advice would be to keep track of some hands that you play or make up some examples and plug in different numbers for different types of draws, pot sizes, and opponent's chances of folding; then you'll get a better general grasp of what kind of bet sizing to use.

Lastly, Grinch91 gives some great advice in his answer about not always having a set betting pattern. In fact, varying your bet sizes can even help you in the long run by being able to learn more about how people react to different bet sizes--it's a little trial and error but you can find out what truly works out best in practice.

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As a general rule it is a bad idea to have such a telegraphed betting pattern. Even if they're amateur players don't assume they won't be able to pick up on what your bet sizing means. Just because they are amateur's never assume they can't play poker. Certainly thinking players who are tracking the game and paying attention will quickly notice and remember once they've seen your hands go to showdown a few times.

If you changed your betting size you'd effect their equity by making it so they would be making more mistakes with more hands. Calling when they should fold, maybe only calling when they should raise, or folding when they should call. Also by changing your betting sizes you'll be much more tricky to play against and place on a range.

What I will say if it is making you money in the game then you're doing fine, but maybe a better question to ask yourself is are you missing out on a bet you could have been paid for?

As for the betting size it really depends on several factors.

  1. How are the table's betting sizes? If they are betting big, chance are they mightn't fold to a small bet so why bet other than to build a pot, in which case just bet for max value.
  2. How many players are in the pot? If you're facing say 2 other players and you make that 60 chip bet into 160, if you're called in one spot the other player is getting much better price now.

There are really a lot of factors here so I'll just list the two. What I will say is that you shouldn't ever have a 'set' style or betting amount, you should mix it up and alter your playing style to the game.

If that means betting the way you have described, great keep it up. But it may mean making a bigger bet in these spots, it may mean just checking, etc, etc. Every table is different and you definitely shouldn't be following the same approach on every table and every player.

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If you are on the draw then you are playing this totally wrong.

Betting enough to push your opponent off a flush draw when you are on the draw is purposefully giving yourself the wrong odds.

A draws should put as little chips in as possible but still put yourself in a position to get more chips in the pot if you hit.

Devalue suited connector in early position as they play poorly out of position. Based on the level of your question you should not be playing flush draws out of position unless it is already a quality hand like AK - AT. Middle position maybe down to JT.

In position you should call any bet that gives you odds. Yes you are 2:1 to make it by the river but you have two bets to face so you should look at the odds of making it on the next card which is only 38:9 or about 4:1. Now you can probably extract more money if you hit so you can stretch that to 3:1. 3:1 would mean 300 in the pot and I have to call 100.

I know you will have players that will say stretch to 2:1 as if you hit on the turn you can get even more in. That is not the way to play it. If your opponent is smart enough to bet enough to push you off a flush draw they are smart enough to get away if the flush draw hits.

In position if they check to you then maybe bet 1/4 of the pot so if you do hit they are more pot committed and to disguise the flush draw. But just checking is fine as you could be representing slow playing top pair or better.

On the turn if you don't hit you are now 37:9 so call up to 4:1
At this point you cannot really expect to get more on the river if you hit
If you are not getting 4:1 on the turn then fold
Don't bet out - only call up to 4:1

Hit or miss the flush if your opponent checks the turn do exactly what you did the round before. If you bet 1/4 representing a made hand then absolutely do it again. If you do hit on the river you don't want to give any indication you were on a draw.

If you hit and did not bet 1/4 the round before and it is a small pot then go ahead and bet 1/4 the pot.

If you don't hit the river then you pretty much need to fold to any bet unless you are putting them a stone cold bluff.

If you hit on the river or before then again bet 1/4 the pot. You are representing top pair or better. If they made 2 pair or make a set and bet out then raise the size pot. If there is a pair on the board then slow down - you may be up against full house. At any point if the board pairs slow down and get away from calling a big bet.

If you have a made hand or want to represent a made hand and want to push them off then the opposite. Bet the pot on the flop to absolutely not give them even long term pot odds. If they call then slow way down - you have to put them on top pair or better and likely likely two pair or better. If you are on 2 pair or better then bingo. If they raise then push with trips (or better).

No only is your approach backwards but your sizing calculation is way off. If you want them off the pot then bet to get them off of their hand not off your hand. On the flop with a 4 flush they are 2:1 to make flush by the river. You have to bet the pot to give them the 2:1. Betting 60 into 160 you are barely giving odds to get them off a flush draw for ONE card - 220:60. If you are betting 60 into a pot of 160 with a flush draw that is mathematically about the worse possible bet. You are not giving yourself pot odds and you are inviting even minor made hands like a pair to stay in.

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NO!

First of all you have Fold Equity, so you can bet higher.

Second you should not change your sizing based on your hand... but based on the board. You can do that against fishes, you should not think too much about maths, just do the action you think exploits him. Against pros you can't tell them your hand with different sizing.

Third, you should explain the whole hand, a generic situation makes no sense for a pro player.

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