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Making Sense of Common Sense (2)

If you haven’t checked out the first part of the article, click here

CommonerKicking some sense into the commoner

5. Your Postflop bet sizes should range between half to full pot

The logic behind this standard bet size is similar to that of point 4. Let’s take a look at the different risk/reward ratios that different bet sizes offer when we are bluffing.

Risk/Reward Ratios – How often must a bluff-bet of a particular size work in order to be profitable

  • 50% pot: Risk 50 to win 100
    When bluff fails, lose 50. When bluff succeeds, win 100
    Opponent needs to fold at least 33% for our play to be profitable
  • 66% pot: Risk 66 to win 100
    When bluff fails, lose 66. When bluff succeeds, win 100
    Opponent needs to fold at least 40% to be profitable
  • 100% pot: Risk 100 to win 100
    Opponent needs to fold at least 50% to be profitable
  • 200% pot: Risk 200 to win 100
    Opponent needs to fold at least 66% to be profitable
  • 25% pot: Risk 25 to win 100
    Opponent needs to fold at least 20% to be profitable

Pot-building for strong hands

Now, let’s assume that we have a strong hand and we are thinking about building up the pot. Let’s assume that we are in the Small Blind and we put in a 3bb raise, and the Big Blind calls. The pot now has 6bb on the Flop.

  • We bet 50% pot on every street
    Flop: 6bb
    Turn: 12bb (6+3X2)
    River: 24bb (12+6X2)
    After the River: 48bb
    We would have been able to put in 24bb
  • We bet 100% pot on every street
    Flop: 6bb
    Turn: 18bb (6X3)
    River: 54bb (18X3)
    After the River: 162bb
    We would have been able to put in 81bb
  • We bet 200% pot on every street
    Flop: 6bb
    Turn: 30bb (6+12+12)
    River: 150bb (30+60+60)
    After the River: 750bb
    We would have been able to put in 375bb
  • We bet 25% pot on every street
    Flop: 6bb
    Turn: 9bb (6+1.5+1.5)
    River: 13.5bb (9+2.25+2.25)
    After the River: 20.25bb (13.5+6.75+6.75)
    We would have been able to put in 10.1bb

As you can see from this, it should be clear that betting too small or too large is not going to be optimal. Betting twice the size of the pot is going to be completely unnecessary, not only because players rarely have effective stack sizes of 375bb, but it also offers a poor risk/reward ratio on bluffs. On the flip side, betting too small makes it extremely difficult to build the pot, and also makes it much less likely for our opponent to fold any sort of hand.

Based on the calculations shown, we can come to the conclusion that the optimal bet-size after the Flop should range between 50-100% of the pot-size. Bet-sizes which fall within this region strike a good balance between allowing for cheap bluffs, and allowing for sufficient pot-building.

6. Limping a lot (Calling the Big Blind Preflop) is going to be sub-optimal in most instances

Many weaker players have the mentality that they should be trapping and luring their opponents into the pot when they have a strong hand like AA. This often results in them overplaying their weak one-pair hand in a limped pot and getting stacked by stronger made hands. I’ll explain why raising is superior to limping here.

a) Raising allows you to build the Pot

Let’s compare raising with limping.
Raising: Under the Gun raises to 3bb, Big Blind calls 3bb. The pot is now 6.5bb
Limping: Under the Gun limps 1bb, Middle Position limps 1bb, Button limps 1bb, Small Blind limps 1bb, Big Blind limps 1bb. The pot is now 5bb

In the first situation, even though UTG only ends up getting one caller from the BB, he manages to build the pot up to 6.5bb. In the second situation, even though UTG got action from 4 other players, the total pot size still ends up being significantly smaller.

b) Limping encourages multi-way action, Raising encourages headsup play

By raising, the Preflop Raiser is giving worse pot odds for the players left to act behind him to call with weak holdings. This effectively thins the field, making it far less likely for players to come in with a weak hand and see a Flop. To fully appreciate why multi-way flops are generally bad, let’s take a look at some calculations

Equity with Strong hands drop significantly with additional players

AA against 1 other player with random hands

Player 1    85.20%    { AA }
Player 2    14.80%    { random }

AA against 3 other players with random hands
Player 1    63.87%    { AA }
Player 2    12.04%    { random }
Player 3    12.04%    { random }
Player 4    12.04%    { random }

What you’ll notice is that with the addition of 2 extra players, the equity of the player with the strong hand (AA in this case) drops a lot more than the other player with the random hand.

Multi-way Action makes it more difficult to bluff

Let’s make some assumptions here. A player will Flop something 33% of the time. If he flops something, he will not fold to a Flop bet. If he doesn’t, he will fold.

Situation 1: Player 1 raises, 1 other player call.
Likelihood that everyone folds on Flop after Player 1 bets = 67%

Situation 2: Player 1 raises, 2 other players call.
Likelihood that everyone folds on Flop after Player 1 bets = 0.67 ^ 2 = 44.4%

Situation 3: Player 1 raises, 3 other players call.
Likelihood that everyone folds on the Flop after Player 1 bets = 0.67 ^ 3 = 29.6%

Hope you guys enjoyed this article. Do let me know if you have any topics you would like me to write about. Like my illustrations and bad jokes? Feedback on how I can improve is also highly welcomed!

7 comments for “Making Sense of Common Sense (2)

  1. Beseventh
    November 21, 2013 at 10:37 am

    Wow mate good job ! I have to study it. Keep going !

  2. Max
    January 7, 2014 at 9:26 am

    awesome post. really like your in-depth analysis and the way you look at the game. looking forward to more posts!

  3. Max
    January 7, 2014 at 9:27 am

    do you mind writing something about post-flop play for reg tables and zoom as well?

    • January 7, 2014 at 11:11 am

      it’s a little complex, so what would you like to read specifically?

      • Max
        January 7, 2014 at 11:16 am

        i am relatively new. was searching for ways to improve my post flop as i am playing zoom at the moment. any recommendations on what to learn and read? thanks :)

  4. February 28, 2014 at 6:58 pm

    Really loved this article, thanks a bunch for taking the time to make it, keep on pwning.

  5. Juan Alvarez
    May 1, 2014 at 11:16 pm

    I haven’t read the book you are giving free… BY THE WAY YOU MAKE THIS POST I AM EXPECTING HEAVEN IN YOUR BOOK!… Dont ever leave Galvin and keep it hard work!


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