As an online no limit Texas hold’em player that has played every level from $0.01-$0.02 to $25-$50 levels then I am well versed on many of the differences that are required in order to do well at higher levels. Bet sizing is just one such area. In fact bet and raise sizing is critical to your success at the higher levels.
When we play micro levels and low stakes no limit Texas hold’em then we become cocooned with a way of playing that has very little relevance to play at even the $200 levels let alone high stakes poker. One such area is in bet and raise sizing. Let us look at an example here to show you what I mean. It is folded around to our hero who raises with the As-5s to 3.5bb. The big blind calls him and there are 7.5bb in the pot.
Both players have 100bb stacks before the hand starts and the flop comes 8d-4s-3h giving our hero an inside straight draw and an ace overcard and backdoor flush draw. The big blind checks and he c-bets for 5.5bb into the 7.5bb pot. The big blind check-raises to 18bb and the action is back on our hero. He aggressively chases the dead money which is correct but he then three bets to 67bb which is the size of the pot. This places around 75% of his stack into the middle and so he is committed to the hand.
In games like no limit Texas hold’em then it is possible over the short term to make these sorts of bet sizing errors and not be punished. When our hero three bet the flop then he is faced with a situation where he either has the best hand or not and a raise can make his opponent fold or not. If villain cannot call then our hero has simply risked too much to win the pot. In effect he has placed dead money into the pot for his opponent to win. If villain has a hand that he will not fold then our hero has lost 67bb. But just how much of that could have been saved?
At the higher levels then a flop check-raise to 18bb in no way signals a big hand. So our hero can simply three bet to something like 40bb here and that is a raise size that is going to commit his opponent should they continue. It also allows him to save 27bb if his opponent cannot or will not fold based on the difference between this bet size and a pot sized raise. So if re-raising to 27bb less achieves the same effect then our hero has needlessly risked 27bb for nothing. This is simply extra money that he loses when he is losing and his opponent will not fold.
In no limit Texas hold’em then you need to pay very careful attention to your bet sizing and this is especially so at the higher levels where you will be chasing more dead money. Tight low stakes players who only ever play with strong hands and smaller stacks never have to worry about this concept.
Carl Sampson is an online poker pro and poker ambassador at 888poker