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Old 12-25-2012, 08:39 PM   #1
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How to 'Bet the Max'

When I was in High School (nearly a decade ago), my math teacher made a point I'll never forget.

One of my classmates was complaining about her grade. At the end of the quarter, his average was an 89.8%.

The conversation went something like this:

Student: “Mr. E, why won't you round up? 89.8 rounds up to a 90, which is an A-.”

Teacher: “An A- is a 90 to 92. You averaged an 89.8, which is less than 90. Thus, you will receive a B+.”

Student: “Why can't you just round up? It's only 0.2.”

Teacher: “You're a pretty strong right? How many push-ups do you think you can do?”

Student: “What? Uh... I dunno, like 40? But what does that have to do with--”

Teacher: “How about 41? Do you think you could do 41 push-ups?”

Student: “Well... yea, I guess, maybe...”

Teacher: “How about 42? If you can do 41, surely you can do 42 right?”

Student: “I'm not sure.”

Teacher: “And if you can do 42, then you can do 43. And if you can do 43, then you can do 44. And so on; eventually 40 push-ups equals 60 push-ups. But you can't do 60 push-ups, can you?”

Student: “No, I don't think I can do 60.”

Teacher: “So 40 does not equal 60. Similarly 89.8 does not equal 90. Only students who have earned a 90 to 92 will receive an A- in this class. Otherwise, we would be ignoring the difference between 89.8 and 90.”


My teacher's point nearly perfectly symbolizes the concept of 'betting the max.'

Poker is a game of small edges. Every time you earn less than the max, you lose potential earnings. Every time you lose more than the minimum, you hurt your win-rate.

Our most effective weapon in llsnl is the value bet. Forget everything you've learned about consistent c-bet sizing, consistent PF sizing, etc. From now on, you will think about a number in flux: the maximum value.

If you have a high value hand, look to bet full pot, or more.
Similarly, don't min-raise for value. If someone is willing to call your min-raise, they are probably willing to call more than a min-raise.

However, let's not get carried away. Let's not forget Teacher's logic.
There is maximum value that your villain is willing to lose. That number could be very, very high (the whole stack and his watch, too). It is your job to figure out what that maximum number is.

BUT we must make an amendment to Teacher's logic. Teacher's logic is in absolute terms; there is a finite, exact number of push-ups you are capable of doing at this very moment. For example, I just did 33 perfect push-ups. On my 34th push-up, I struggled and used imperfect form. Thus, at this moment, I am capable of performing 33 push-ups.

But in the game of poker, things are not as crystal-clear. There are situations in which you will make one decision some percentage of the time, and a completely alternative decision another percentage of the time. For example, from UTG, you look down at KsJs. How often are you playing this hand? Some players might answer never, some might answer always. I would say, at a typical, easy loose-passive table, I'm opening this for a raise 95% of the time, limping it 4% of the time, and folding it 1% of the time. Obviously this is an approximation, but you get the point.

Our decisions are not governed by absolute rules.

This concept can be applied to value-betting. For example, let's say you flop a set with 33 on a Ks3s4d board. Your villain is a a fairly tight player. He's capable of reading board textures and 'putting you on a hand.' He probably doesn't use hand-ranges, but he's good enough to fold top pair sometimes.

The pot is $20, and we bet $20.
Villain raises to $50.
We both have $250 behind. What's our play?

Well, against a brainless donkey, we would probably just shove it in. He's shown strength, and most people aren't raise-folding too often here.

But this guy isn't 100% calling our shove here. Is he 100% calling a raise to $80?

This is where it gets interesting. His “potential for value extraction” fluctuates between certain bet-sizes.

Let's try to break down (approximately) how often he's willing to call x$.

$80 = 99% calling or raising
$90 = 99% calling or raising
$100 = 95% calling or raising
$110 = 92% calling or raising
$120 = 90% calling or raising
$150 = 80% calling or raising
$200 = 70% calling or raising
$250 = 60% calling or raising
$300 = 50% calling or raising

Obviously this is just an approximation. But in general, there is a percentage chance of getting action from each raise-size. To determine which action yields the highest EV, we simply convert the percentage into a fraction, and multiply it with the bet-size.

So...
$200*(0.7) = $140
or
$250*(0.6) = $150
or
$300*(0.5) = $150

The two highest yields are both $150. In other words, the max value bet is somewhere between $250, and $300. By our approximate calculations, whether we bet $250 or $300 is essentially arbitrary; both bets yield the same EV = $150.

What is important is that we bet $250+. If we only bet $200, our EV = $140. We lose $10 of potential earnings.

To summarize...
The key to effective value-betting is to always strive for the maximum. But keep in mind that the maximum is not necessarily the highest number. For instance, if there were only a 40% of our villain calling the $300 AI, then the EV of shoving would only be $120, making it a far from optimal play.

Thanks for reading.
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Old 12-25-2012, 09:32 PM   #2
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Re: How to 'Bet the Max'

I'd also like to add that the percentage chance of calling is not always proportionate to the size of the value bet.

In other words, a villain could be 70% likely to call a $50 bet, but 80% likely to call a $100 bet, because he thinks 'a big bet is more likely to be a bluff.'
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Old 12-25-2012, 09:39 PM   #3
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Re: How to 'Bet the Max'

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Originally Posted by wWizardG View Post
I'd also like to add that the percentage chance of calling is not always proportionate to the size of the value bet.

In other words, a villain could be 70% likely to call a $50 bet, but 80% likely to call a $100 bet, because he thinks 'a big bet is more likely to be a bluff.'
Good thread- perhaps even more important when betting on earlier streets given how pots grow.
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Old 12-25-2012, 11:29 PM   #4
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Re: How to 'Bet the Max'

good read op, I enjoyed it.

one question. In the ex where you figure that a raise to 250-300 will both yield the most profitable results, doesn't that apply more so otr, where there are no more betting rounds?

if you are otf in this situation, couldn't it be more or equally as profitable to raise smaller to keep him in a larger percent of the time if you are sure you can value bet ott and otr to guarantee all the money goes in?
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Old 12-25-2012, 11:34 PM   #5
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Re: How to 'Bet the Max'

good post


my friends and i sometimes play a game at the table where we try to maximize our value preflop with our strong hands.. we try to raise the highest amount possible and still get a caller...we then pay whoever had the highest raise of the session

so, i would start by getting AK and raise to 15, few hands later friend would get KK and raise to 22, i would get QQ and raise to 27, etc

highest we've gotten so far with a caller is like 35-40... in 1/2 its a pretty funny game with the right table dynamics cause the table doesnt know how to adjust (they dont realize youre betting huge with your strongest hands) and they still pay you off
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Old 12-25-2012, 11:41 PM   #6
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Re: How to 'Bet the Max'

Interesting. Definitely don't want to leave money on the table and every little bit adds up
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Old 12-26-2012, 12:33 AM   #7
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Re: How to 'Bet the Max'

Good read. Value betting is super super important at lower limits.
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Old 12-26-2012, 01:17 AM   #8
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Re: How to 'Bet the Max'

Nice post. Only thing I'd add into your calculations (assuming I didn't miss it, kinda xmas drunk) is that we also have to factor how our action on a current street effects a later street. If he's calling a raise to $80 with 99% of his range but calling a shove OTT with only 70% of his range also once he gets there, it might be preferable to bet $100 now even though he folds more often because he'll call OTT a higher % of the time as well.
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Old 12-26-2012, 01:30 AM   #9
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Re: How to 'Bet the Max'

yes, that's a good point, canoodles.

In general, I would think that for most players, the more they invest on the flop, the more willing they are to call off a big turn bet.

ie. "I only lost $10 on the flop, so I'll fold my draw here on the turn."
As opposed to "Man, I paid a lot to see that turn card, might as well pay to see it to the end!"
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Old 12-28-2012, 05:02 PM   #10
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Re: How to 'Bet the Max'

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Originally Posted by SuqAta8 View Post
good post


my friends and i sometimes play a game at the table where we try to maximize our value preflop with our strong hands.. we try to raise the highest amount possible and still get a caller...we then pay whoever had the highest raise of the session

so, i would start by getting AK and raise to 15, few hands later friend would get KK and raise to 22, i would get QQ and raise to 27, etc

highest we've gotten so far with a caller is like 35-40... in 1/2 its a pretty funny game with the right table dynamics cause the table doesnt know how to adjust (they dont realize youre betting huge with your strongest hands) and they still pay you off
You need to clarify that EACH time a new high for the night is set, the person gets paid...so when you got two callers when you opened for $27, I paid you, then I got one caller at $30 and two callers at $35...so I won $38 the first night we did it.

I love the game because its truly shocking how high you can get your opens and still get callers. There is a significant bloc of tourist fish that won't care how big the bet is, if they have a hand they want to see a flop like AJs or QJo, they will call any amount up until they feel they are putting their entire stack in...so if they have over $100, pretty much anything short of $50 stands a good chance to be called.

Last night at Wynn I opened a pot that had two four limpers to me on the button to $44 with KK...THREE callers...flop was entirely dry and low, my cbet took it down, the third fold grumpily folded QTo (no backdoor draws either), maintaining that I was bluffing and that his hand was most likely good.
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Old 12-28-2012, 05:15 PM   #11
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When you are doing the pf game how do you determine strong? Is there a certain set of hands that are considered strong? The reason I ask because what if you know people are calling super light and start to include hands that aren't considered strong. Example people start calling you light and you open A10o to $40. A10o isn't considered a "strong" hand but may be ahead of their calling ranges and raised for value.
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Old 12-28-2012, 05:55 PM   #12
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Re: How to 'Bet the Max'

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Originally Posted by D0UGHBOY View Post
When you are doing the pf game how do you determine strong? Is there a certain set of hands that are considered strong? The reason I ask because what if you know people are calling super light and start to include hands that aren't considered strong. Example people start calling you light and you open A10o to $40. A10o isn't considered a "strong" hand but may be ahead of their calling ranges and raised for value.
We've never formally defined it, because the point of the game is how big can we open and still get called, creating a big pot pre-flop in a spot where we know we are way ahead of their range....if one believes that the table dynamics are such that ATo is worth raising huge, wanting to be called, and expecting the ranges of those calls to be dominated by your hand, then sure, go ahead.

The game is more to illustrate how absurdly "see a flop, fit/fold flop" low stakes no-limit is...if they have a hand they like, they will pay absurd amounts relative to stacks and blinds to see the flop.

So feel free to do it with ATo...just be prepared to be called in three spots, and don't try anything stupid on the K and Q high flops, b/c said fish called pre with KJ and he ain't folding top pair now.
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Old 12-28-2012, 10:36 PM   #13
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Re: How to 'Bet the Max'

I think you left out a huge part of the equation. Its not really what size bet will they call. Its what hands will they call for each bet level. Then it becomes what is the ev for each of those bets.

In the example you gave...maybe a 300 bet is only called by hands that beat you KK 44. Sure as a % of combination he raised with it a small % but you always loose.

A 200 bet gets called now by..by top K4s and K3s as well as 44 and KK, 5 combos V.s 9 you loose to more combos still a loosing bet (forgetting later money.)

a 150 bet now gets called by all draws and AK and AA as well as 2 pair. for x combo V.s Y combo.

thats how your value betting, and for that matter your bluffing should be worked out.
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Old 12-28-2012, 10:47 PM   #14
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Re: How to 'Bet the Max'

Good read!
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Old 12-28-2012, 10:51 PM   #15
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Re: How to 'Bet the Max'

Quote:
Originally Posted by FlatTireSuited View Post
You need to clarify that EACH time a new high for the night is set, the person gets paid...so when you got two callers when you opened for $27, I paid you, then I got one caller at $30 and two callers at $35...so I won $38 the first night we did it.

I love the game because its truly shocking how high you can get your opens and still get callers. There is a significant bloc of tourist fish that won't care how big the bet is, if they have a hand they want to see a flop like AJs or QJo, they will call any amount up until they feel they are putting their entire stack in...so if they have over $100, pretty much anything short of $50 stands a good chance to be called.

Last night at Wynn I opened a pot that had two four limpers to me on the button to $44 with KK...THREE callers...flop was entirely dry and low, my cbet took it down, the third fold grumpily folded QTo (no backdoor draws either), maintaining that I was bluffing and that his hand was most likely good.
lol credit for this game goes to you for introducing me to it

def a great way to get max value with your best hands pre, depending on how people are playing
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