Do not autopilot when picking postflop bet sizing
Before picking your postflop bet sizing on the flop/turn/river (whether it be a continuation bet, or otherwise) you should consider certain factors. You should never just bet a predefined % of the pot in an autopilot manner – many beginner players either bet a predefined % of the pot (such as 1/2, or 2/3 pot) without giving any thought to their bet sizing, or even worse choose their bet sizing in a totally unbalanced way. You must consider the board textures and your range, when picking a bet size. You also need to mindful of the implications on SPR both currently, and going forward of the sizes you pick.
How to pick the perfect postflop bet sizing?
Consider all of the following:
- What is the SPR currently, as well as possible future SPRs? This is so you can plan ahead.
- What is the board texture? The more static or dry the board the smaller our bet size. The more dynamic or wet the board the bigger our bet size.
- Is our range polarized or condensed? Use bigger sizes the more polarized our range is, and smaller sizes the more condensed our range is.
You should bear the current stack to pot ratio (and possible future SPRs) in mind at all times, and size your bets in an appropriate way. Think of your plan for the entire hand, ahead of time. A good general rule for your postflop bet sizing is if you are planning to bet three times is to bet a similar percentage of the pot on the flop, turn, and river – this is especially important if you are planning on a three street bluff as you certainly don’t want to end up in a situation where your river bet is so small relative to the size of the pot you cannot generate sufficient fold equity.
A static board is one where the best made hands that are winning on any given flop are likely to still be winning on future streets. For example, on Qd7h2s, if you held a set or AQ, and it was the best hand on the flop, most of the time you can expect it still to be the best hand by the river. A dynamic board is one such as 8h5s6h where even if you had a set, or an overpair, and it was winning on the flop, you wouldn’t necessarily expect it to still be winning on the river. A fewer the flush or straight draws the more drier a board texture is, the more the flush or straight draws the more wetter the board texture is.
The more dry or static a board is, the more (all other things being equal) you should be inclined to bet a smaller percentage of the pot. This is because one of the two reasons to bet is to deny your opponents their fair share of equity (the other is to try and build a bigger pot, for the times you win). Denying your opponents equity is obviously not as important on dry static boards as wet dynamic boards, thus we can bet relatively smaller on the former as opposed to the latter. On the dry static boards as opposed to the wet dynamic boards, your opponents are more likely to have hit strongly or missed completely – when they have hit strongly they will likely at least call any reasonable bet size, when they have missed they will likely fold to all reasonable bet sizes. Thus when bluffing, why put out a bigger bluff, when a smaller one would achieve a similar amount of folds? If you are playing a somewhat balanced game, you will also want to pick a similar size for your value bets (putting out small bluffs, and big value bets, will be picked up even by amateur opponents). On wet dynamic boards (as opposed to dry static boards) if we have a value hand we get more value from a bigger bet size, and when we have a bluff hand we increase our fold equity with a bigger bet size. On wet dynamic boards, if you are looking to get value, large sizes allow you to get maximum value right away when future cards can kill the action (your action is less likely to be killed on future streets of dry static boards). You should bear in mind that your postflop bet sizing usually affects the range our opponent called us with – all other things being equal, the larger we bet the narrower and stronger our opponent’s range going forward is likely to be.
You can read all about polarized and condensed ranges in detail here at UnfairPoker.com. If our range is polarized rather than condensed, we usually want to bet a larger percentage of the pot when continuation betting. This is because if our range is polarized we mainly or only have strong or weak hands. With strong hands, we want to get the maximum value. With weak hands, we want to gain the maximum fold equity. A larger bet size as a percentage of the pot will achieve both these aims better, than a smaller bet size. However, when we have a condensed range this means we mainly or only have medium strength hands, and if we bet a smaller percentage of the pot we can bet more hands than if we bet a bigger percentage of the pot – thus we can bet with a wide range of bluffs, and thin value bets.
Overbetting when we have range & nut advantage
If you have a polarized range, you can consider overbetting (overbetting should not be done with condensed ranges). Overbetting the pot should be considered if both of the following are true.
- You have the range advantage: Is the texture of the board better for your range, than your opponent’s range?, AND
- You have the nut advantage: Do you have one or more nut hands in your range, whilst your opponent has no nut hands?
As another tip if you are considering overbetting as a bluff, look for situations where both or one of your hole cards block many of the hands in your opponent’s calling range.