Cooke's Corner: A Little Variety in Your Bet Sizing

Cooke's Corner: A Little Variety in Your Bet Sizing
  • Accurate bet sizing based on your opponents' ranges and tendencies will extract optimum EV.

  • One bet size doesn't fit all. @RealRoyCooke explains how varying your bets can increase your profits.

Some poker authorities recommend standardizing your bet sizing, thinking that varying your sizing allows opponents to read your intent — and therefore your range — more accurately.

Predictability is a very bad thing, but don't assume your opponents are accurately reading your sizing. Many players can't read your sizing's range. Also, if you apply a few deceptive plays, good readers will make errors and/or lose their confidence in their reads.

Accurate bet sizing based on your opponents' ranges and tendencies will extract optimum EV. Usually, when value betting a hand with no cards to come, you want to bet the amount that your opponents' calling will generate the most EV. Since most players call differing size bets with different strength hands, you need to calculate the width of each of their bet size calling ranges and analyze how each size bet fares.

For example, assuming you hold the nuts, if an opponent will call a $100 bet 75 percent of the time and $200 bet 25 percent of the time, the $100 wager is a better proposition. If you standardly bet $200 in that spot and never vary, you've lost the additional EV the $100 bet generated.

Should you be bluffing, you want to assume as little risk as possible and bet the lowest amount that will get the job done. Getting your opponent to fold a busted draw will require a different size bet than making him fold top pair.

Once again, varying your bet size produces different EV. Maximizing your EV is where your profits come from. Think about what hands are in your opponents' folding range for what price and determine which bet size has the highest EV.

Of course, if your opponents read these tendencies in you, your plays have lost much, if not all, of their value. Therefore, against good readers who will accurately interpret your bet sizing, you need to mix it up with them. Not only will mixing it up prevent them from reading and adjusting to your plays, but you should be able to obtain additional EV from the misreads — and from the mental confusion created.

There are many additional dynamics to bet sizing and players' reads on your bet sizes. Some players are more likely to call a large bet with a mediocre hand than a small wager, thinking you're more likely to be bluffing. Others read your bets at face value, reasoning that large bets mean big hands and small bets mean weak ones. And with many players — the ones who don't vary their bets — those thoughts are true.

What you need to do is identify your opponents' thought process and determine the correct countermeasures. Generally, this involves thinking about what your opponents' reads are and then adjusting your play to their thinking.

If they read large bets as bluffs and small bets as value bets, value bet large, bluff smaller. If they read large bets as big hands, you may want to widen their calling range with smaller bets in situations when weak hands are a significant portion of their range and size your bluffs larger. Against these opponents you might also want to value bet small more often to induce raises should they be prone to raising.

Realizing these reads requires intense concentration at the table. Do it!

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Cooke's Corner: A Little Variety in Your Bet Sizing 101

Roy Cooke played poker professionally for 16 years prior to becoming a successful Las Vegas Real Estate Broker/Salesman. Should you wish any information about Real Estate matters — including purchase, sale or mortgage — his office number is 702-376-1515 or Roy’s email is His website is, and more of his blogs and poker tips can be found at You can also find him on Facebook or Twitter @RealRoyCooke.

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