Each week, the Talking Poker series highlights a particular poker term. We’ll give you a clear, to-the-point definition of the term and an example of the strategic concept to which it refers, so that you can start using the term and implementing the related strategy into your game. This week we turn our attention to the value bet.
A “value bet” or “value betting” happens when a player makes a bet with the intention of getting his or her opponent to call with a worse hand. When making a bet in no-limit hold’em, you should know what you want the bet to accomplish, and so a “value bet” is one made with that goal of getting value in the form of an opponent’s call.
In a no-limit hold’em game cash game, the board reads . Player A has for a full house, tens full of deuces.
Prior to reaching the river, it had been a single-raised pot preflop with Player A heads up against Player B who is in position. Player A had bet both the flop and turn and Player B had called. Player A now continues with a value bet on the river, doing so with the idea that Player B will call with many worse hands. Player B does call with a flush and loses.
In general, the purpose of a bet is either to bluff your opponent (into folding a better hand) or to value bet your opponent (into calling with a worse hand). In the case of value betting, you must put your opponent on a range of hands and compare that range to your own hand strength. If your opponent’s range of hands includes most that are worse than yours, you can pretty safely bet for value.
In the above example, Player B could have a better full house, but it would be extremely unlikely. Meanwhile Player B’s range includes many worse hands that can call a river bet — including a straight, a flush, or possibly — thus making it a good spot for a value bet.
Watch and Learn
In the following video, poker pro and commentator Olivier Busquet discusses value betting considerations and what kinds of opponents are good ones against whom to make value bets.