4

I was playing a $1-2 game at the casino this past week and the guy on my right kept his initial bets at $11. This is a lot higher than my usual starting bet (usually I will lead out with 7 [3.5X],) but since he was using $11, I decided to try it out. I ended up quintupling my money and having my most lucrative poker night ever. Obviously correlation does not imply causation but that is just what led me to thinking:

Assuming you are using the strategy of always leading out with the same bet whenever you want to lead out, what is the most profitable bet size? Is 5.5X too high?

  • How was the original guy doing with this strategy? – user1934 Oct 13 '16 at 1:21
  • Stacks, table size, types of players, ie. loose, tight, a mix? Honestly, it all depends on the current mood of the table, which can change at any time. – Herb Wolfe Oct 13 '16 at 2:15
  • @Michael he was clearly the most experienced player on the table, but I took away a bunch of his money. I ended up going all in with $230 against him with a boat, and he called with the top straight. But we were both beating up on the fish. – ejLev Oct 13 '16 at 20:04
6

While many beginners are guilty of not betting enough pre-flop, another typical beginner mistake is betting too much. An example would be raising 5x-6x the size of the blinds when you are first to enter a hand in a game where the standard raise is 3x. Sure, everyone might fold and you pick up the blinds – and if that was your goal then it worked, but what if your intention was to maximize your winnings with a solid starting hand? Your failure was likely the result of improper bet sizing.

This beginners article does basically brings up the important things to think about:

What is the intention of your betting at the moment? Do you want to steal the Blinds? Runner Runner and you want action?

What is your play? What is your image at the table? Are you a maniac? Are you a rock? Are you playing 50% of your hands preflop or 10%?

What is the average betting size at the table?

A 2.5x open bet could end up in the same result as a 5.5x open bet. But also you could lose action when you've wanted it...

Adjusting Your Bets

Different games play differently. I think it was correct to adjust your game at that day, but I would not use it as a new "strategy".

3

I just want to add my answer here for further opinions, but I think David Sleet's answer is excellent anyway.

As a small aside, for tournaments I'd say it's a quick way to the door. It's too much of your often short stack when the same can be accomplished with a 2.5x raise.

Now for cash, that is a pretty different beast. You said your normal raise is 3.5x, which is fine, but often you have to adjust to what the table is doing. As others have mentioned there is no such thing a fixed number that you can sit down every time and open with it on 100% of tables. It doesn't work like that. The most profitable initial bet is simple, it's firstly what thins the field, but gets one or two callers(if you want them to call) and it's an amount you're comfortable putting in(this is key, if you're not comfortable you're not thinking about the best play but rather the money involved).

I've played on tables where a 7-8x was the open raise, and anything lower than that was a family pot, which is in the long run not profitable for anyone. To contrast this I've played on tables where you so much as go above the 2.5x raise and the pot is yours.

As David Sleet mentioned in his answer you need to adjust. If you never adjust and follow the same pattern, then I'm sorry to say it you're missing value nearly every game you play. Assume you have a good hand and want callers, a bet of too much that won't be called is missed value, a bet that is called when they would have called more is also missed value. Now it's not an easy thing to pick up on all the time, but you still need to try if you want to maximise your profitability.

Two examples, you have Aces both tables:

  1. You're against a tight player who just won't call big raises, if it's above 3x they normally fold unless upper end of range, you raise 4x, they fold. Great you won the pot, but you missed out on the extra 3BBs you could have gotten.
  2. You're against a very loose player, they like to see flops, they're having a good time and have been calling a lot. You open to 4x, they call, hand continues. But this type of player would probably have called 5x,6x,7x, or maybe even a 10x raise. By not adjusting your open you've missed BBs from this player.

Poker is not a static game, every game you play in is unique in it's own way, all with their own unique cast of players. You need to understand what works on each table, with each player and adapt your play to maximise your profitability.

0

There is no such a thing - the most profitable opening bet. Another time they won't give you any action, but you won't remember it. That will be time when you lose money. In a long run you should be opening 2-5 times depending on your hand, image and a table. 5.5 is pretty big raise I think, but it might work against very loose 'probably bad' players who call your raise with any two suited cards.

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