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Old 11-11-2007, 09:21 AM   #1
Bond18
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Things it took me a while to learn part 8, Bet Sizing

Cash games players donít have a lot of respect for guys who are strictly tournament players. One of the largest factors for this lack of respect is tournament players failure to understand post flop bet sizing and lines. Itís only very recently with the help of NoahSD and Luckychewy pouring over 6 max hands that Iíve gotten a better feel for post flop lines, and Iím still not great at it. I decided to bring in an expert to tell us what he thinks is the big difference between cash and tournament players understanding of bet sizing, Aejones. Hereís what he had to say:

ďTraditionally, cash game players bet sizing is better than tournament players bet sizing because of the depth of stacks they are permitted to work with. In cash games, you often have to figure out how to get a large amount of big blinds into the pot for value, or use all of the chips in your arsenal to represent a hand that you don't really have.

Bet sizing is traditionally based around the size of the pot in cash games. Anything over the size of the pot is considered an overbet, anything within the constraints of a pot sized bet (PSB) is considered 'acceptable' or 'normal.' Sometimes in tournaments I'll see a tight or straightforward player raise preflop, check the flop, check the turn, and then bet twice the pot on the river. This player is showing an extraordinary leak in his game- he's got no idea how to get his chips in the pot with his strong hands other than to make an embarrassing bet on one street and hope a bad player pays him off with something less than the nuts. How should we combat that? Quite simply, you need to develop multiple streets of value- whether it be by betting 2/3 of the pot on all streets, checking to an aggressive player and check raising him, or extracting with varying bet sizes.

Another problem that I see with tournament players bet sizing is that they often tailor it to the amount they think can get paid off. "I'll only bet a tenth of the pot... I've got the nuts, but I don't think he's got anything! How can he call?!" The fallacy in this line of thought is that they're more worried about extracting than they are hand reading. If this player is only betting a tenth of the pot with his strong hands... well, he won't be very difficult to play against.

I feel like I've gone off on a lot of tangents, but I've hit most of the points I wanted to make and would like to leave you with a few clear thoughts. Tournament players bet sizing should be tailored around the texture of the board, not the strength of their hand. Additionally, instead of constricting the size of the pot, they should strive to build pots with future betting streets taken into consideration.Ē

So how can we look at some specifics of what Aejones is talking about here? Letís start off by talking about making appropriate bets to accomplish something on later streets. A simple way to think about it is this: You shouldnít think of bets on one street as solely independent actions, they should be working towards something on the future streets. So letís get into some easy examples:

The first major mistake you see players make is failing to get full value on a strong hand, either because they slow play it, or bet to small to make sure not to drive a player out. Instead, in most spots you should be increasing the size of your bets (when appropriate) in order to play for stacks, or at least the maximum amount, on a future street. Say youíre in a 55 FO tournament with a 3000 start bank.
Blinds 20/40, and for some random reason everyone still has starting stack. You hold 77 in MP2.
Preflop: It folds to you, you raise to 120, HJ calls, CO folds, button folds, SB folds, BB calls.
Flop: K 7 5 rainbow (Pot 380)
BB checks.

Okay, hereís a spot a lot of guys might [censored] up. They might check afraid a bet will drive people out, or they might bet like 40-50% pot to make sure someone calls. Instead you need to realize this; in a situation like this, if a person has a strong enough hand to call 200, they likely have a strong enough hand to call 300. The more money you can get in a pot like this the better.
Letís say I bet 300. If one of the players raises you this is the kind of board you can consider calling and getting it in on the turn since thereís no scare cards, but letís just say one calls.

BB checks, you bet 300, HJ calls, BB folds.
Turn: J (Pot 980)
So now thereís 980 in the pot and 2580 left in stacks. If you bet something like 700 and get a call there will be about 2400 left in the pot and youíll have 1900ish left in your stack, making a river shove quite natural. Again, this isnít a spot you want to try and play weak for value, you want to get a lot of chips in. So lead 700 here and if he flat calls, jam any river of course.

Now letís see what happens with this hand if you try to get cute with it. Same preflop action but watch what happens with the math when you try to small value the flop.

Flop: K 7 5 rainbow (Pot 380)
BB checks, you bet 200, HJ calls, BB folds.
Turn: J (Pot 780)
Now thereís 780 in the pot with 2680 left in stacks. If you keep up with your half pot value bets watch what happens.
You bet 400, he calls.
River: 2 (pot 1580)
Now the pots 1580 and you have 2280 left in your stacks. A shove here is a substantial over bet that makes the strength of your hand very obvious. Now youíre stuck betting something like 1000 for value, missing 1280 in value by taking this cuter (*****, you are not cuter in this instance) line.

Now, there is in fact an inverse of this kind of betting. Sometimes you need to bet smaller to manipulate the action in your favor. Hereís a hand I posted a long time ago to illustrate another idea, betting small to set up a play:
Stars 50 single rebuy add on. Iíve been quite aggressive in late position, and the player in the BB seems somewhat aggressive but is no pro.
My stack: 9940
BB: 6700
Blinds 100/200
I hold Qc 9c on the button.
Preflop: Folds to me, I raise to 525, SB folds, BB calls.
Flop: Ts 3c 6c (Pot 1150)
BB checks.
Alright, hereís the idea with a spot like this. Letís say I fire out a normal bet of say 700. If villain makes a proper sized check raise to say, 2100, heíll very likely have to much of his stack in to consider folding to our 3 bet, which weíd likely make here. So instead bet small to manipulate the size of his check raise. Hereís how it went.
BB checks, I bet 450, BB check raises to 1400, I shove 9415, BB folds.

Now, often I would discourage betting less than youíre pre flop raise, but this seemed like a very good spot to make an exception. As luckychewy put it while discussing using this hand in the article ďThe very small underbet here is actually better than a more standard smallish C bet because some guys will perceive it as weakness and bluff at it, which will in turn make the 3-bet have a ton more fold equity.Ē We both agree however, that this probably shouldnít be done against guys who will realize what it is (though outside higher stakes online MTTís, these players are mostly quite rare.)

Alright, now letís talk about adjusting our bet sizes to board texture. Even the most standard of C bets should have some thought put behind them based on board texture (and of course, stack sizes.) Letís look at a very clear and obvious example of how to illustrate this idea:
We are again in our 50 FO with 3000 starting stacks which havenít changed, at 20/40 blinds. You hold Qd Qh UTG+1, and villain is mostly unknown.
Preflop: UTG folds, you raise to 120, folds to MP2, MP2 calls, all others fold.

Flop One: Th 5d 3c (Pot 300)
In a spot like this, go with whatever your standard C bet size is. What should your Ďstandard C betí be? I like to go about 60-75% pot early in tournaments. In this spot, Iíd bet 200 even.

Flop Two: 6c 7c 9h (pot 300)
Now this is a kind of board Iím looking to accomplish something a little different. I think you need to bet more to charge draws more, and if villain raises you want to make it so his raise is a more committing size. Iíd bet 250 here and if villain raises, shove, since so many draws are in his range.

Basically, when the board is more coordinated, you need to bet larger, since there is more the villain can station or raise you on. With less coordinated boards (Such as the T 5 3), you want a hand like 66-99, Tx, to think youíre just making a very standard C bet with 100% of your range and call you down or raise you.

Now, letís talk about some late tournament bet sizing. As stacks get shallower, your C bets should (for the most part, but not always) start to get smaller as well. While my early game C bets are in the area of 70%, my late game ones drop to around 55%. At what point should you start dropping the size of C bets? It mostly has to do with what the stack sizes are involved in the hand. As you get later in the tournament average stacks will normally be 20-35 BBís, where as at the start of the tournament itís 100-200. When the average stack starts slipping below 40 BBís, I start dropping the size of my C bets, though this will also be dependant on the effective stacks of the players in the hand. By the time average stack is below 30 BBís, Iím probably down to 55-60% pot for my C bet.

To elaborate, letís talk about how stack sizes and texture will still affect my sizing in the late game with some examples. Say average stack in our 50 FO is down to 30 BBís, with the blinds at 500/1000 with a 100 ante. Both you and villain have average stack. 9 handed.
You hold AdQc in MP2.
Preflop: Folds to you, you raise to 2600, HJ folds, CO calls, 3 folds.

Now, what kind of flops are you betting around 55-60% pot, and which are you betting larger on? At this point (even though it makes youíre hand a little transparent to thinking players) the only flops Iím betting a larger on are flops I hit but are draw heavy and I want to get it on. Examples:
Flop 1: Ks 5s 4c (Pot 7700)
Iíd bet about 4200 here and fold to a shove.
Flop 2: Qd 8s 3c
Iíd bet about 4200 here and pray my villain raises or shoves.
Flop 3: Qd Td 9h
Iíd bet about 6000 here, again, intending to get it in.
Flop 4: Ks Js 4s
Iíd just check fold.

Also deep in tournaments you need to understand what your stack size warrants for post flop bluffs and semi bluffs. Some players will attempt bluffs/semi bluffs without nearly enough chips to have any fold equity. You need to be aware of when a player is clearly committed to the pot, or when the board texture is such that you can rarely get a fold. Example of a common hopeless bluff spot:
Blinds 500/1000 with 100 ante. You hold KsQd on the HJ. Both hero and villain have 22,000.
Preflop: Folds to hero, hero raises to 2600, CO folds, button calls, blinds fold.
Flop: Ad 9h 4c (Pot 7700)
Hero bets 4200, button calls.

Now hereís a spot where on either the turn the hero may jam hoping to create a fold having so much of their stack invested, or if the button checks back on the turn they may try the river. Because the board is without drawís and the button is rarely flat calling you with a decent pair that would peel one on the flop to see if you keep up, villain almost always has an ace. Just because you have a significant portion of your stack invested doesnít give you license to make very spewy bluff. This is starting to fall more into hand reading, which is for another article.

Alright, thatís all I have for now. As always, if thereís any questions, just put them in the thread.

Also, if you're interested in more Aejones advice (and despite his controversial persona he really is one of the best poker minds out there) he'll soon be involved in a poker video and coaching site.
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Old 11-11-2007, 09:30 AM   #2
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Re: Things it took me a while to learn part 8, Bet Sizing

Thank you for these, they are much appreciated. This is the best of the series so far for me as i have been working a lot on bet sizing to get the whole stack in. This is just gold:

Tournament players bet sizing should be tailored around the texture of the board, not the strength of their hand. Additionally, instead of constricting the size of the pot, they should strive to build pots with future betting streets taken into consideration
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Old 11-11-2007, 10:06 AM   #3
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Re: Things it took me a while to learn part 8, Bet Sizing

Awesome! Don't ever stop!!!
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Old 11-11-2007, 10:11 AM   #4
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Re: Things it took me a while to learn part 8, Bet Sizing

Love these posts - seriously...

Question related to the first example of maximizing value - is there a simple math calculation you use to immediately allow you to determine the best possible bet size on early streets that ultimately sets you up to make a pot sized bet on a future street?

Or asking the question in a different way - what's your stack size in terms of bb to set yourself up this way?

Asking because I love your early example - but determining in real time in advance that "ok, I need to bet AAA on the flop to allow me to bet BBB on the turn, which then sets me up for an X-sized bet on the river that doesn't look stupid" takes a lot longer to figure out than saying "OK i have YY BB post flop, so I'm positioned well to do a TT% pot sized bet on future streets (assuming board texture and hand reading cooperates) with the hope of getting it in on ZZ street"...

Does this make sense? Or is this overly formulaic? Asking because I'm sure there's prob a shortcut that allows one to determine this at a glance (similar to counting outs and quickly estimating % probability of hitting a draw).

Awesome series - there always seems to be at least one "ah-hah" moment for me in reading these...
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Old 11-11-2007, 11:21 AM   #5
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Re: Things it took me a while to learn part 8, Bet Sizing



Bond:

You have helped my game in more ways then I can go into right now.

Mr Aejones your contribution, to this post, is also much appreciated.

2p2 FTW

thanks

~loose

I will elaborate more in my 1 year anniversary with 2p2 post.
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Old 11-11-2007, 11:54 AM   #6
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Re: Things it took me a while to learn part 8, Bet Sizing

TYVM Bond and ShipShip!

A+

-ZEN
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Old 11-11-2007, 12:52 PM   #7
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Re: Things it took me a while to learn part 8, Bet Sizing

Do you ever consider checking behind the 679 and QT9 flop with QQ and AQ? As a cash game player I do this routinely and if I do c-bet I'm certainly mucking if I get raised instead of "hoping for a shove". How does a tournament setting change it? "Stacks shallower/can't pass up a decent chance to accumulate chips" are my guesses? I'm just starting MTTs btw.
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Old 11-11-2007, 01:01 PM   #8
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Re: Things it took me a while to learn part 8, Bet Sizing

Another very good post in this great series.

As already said I would suggest to put all these threads together in the anthology thread, cause it gets more and more difficult to get them all together.
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Old 11-11-2007, 01:13 PM   #9
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Re: Things it took me a while to learn part 8, Bet Sizing

Quote:
Do you ever consider checking behind the 679 and QT9 flop with QQ and AQ? As a cash game player I do this routinely and if I do c-bet I'm certainly mucking if I get raised instead of "hoping for a shove". How does a tournament setting change it? "Stacks shallower/can't pass up a decent chance to accumulate chips" are my guesses? I'm just starting MTTs btw.
You're basically right in the why jcl. Mostly it's because our stack sizes are often not deep enough to consider folding. If it's early in a major event at like 200 BB's deep vs a good player, it's very reasonable to fold.
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Old 11-11-2007, 02:16 PM   #10
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Re: Things it took me a while to learn part 8, Bet Sizing

Fantastic post. Keep it up Bond. I'm looking forward to the one on hand reading!
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Old 11-11-2007, 02:23 PM   #11
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Re: Things it took me a while to learn part 8, Bet Sizing

Quote:
Awesome! Don't ever stop!!!
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Old 11-11-2007, 03:03 PM   #12
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Re: Things it took me a while to learn part 8, Bet Sizing

such an overlooked topic... thx again bond.
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Old 11-11-2007, 03:16 PM   #13
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Re: Things it took me a while to learn part 8, Bet Sizing

bond for mod
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Old 11-11-2007, 04:25 PM   #14
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Re: Things it took me a while to learn part 8, Bet Sizing

you should adopt me
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Old 11-11-2007, 04:35 PM   #15
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Re: Things it took me a while to learn part 8, Bet Sizing

Quote:
value by taking this cuter (*****, you are not cuter in this instance) line.

QFMFT
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Old 11-11-2007, 04:36 PM   #16
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Re: Things it took me a while to learn part 8, Bet Sizing

These do get better and better, thanks
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Old 11-11-2007, 04:43 PM   #17
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Re: Things it took me a while to learn part 8, Bet Sizing

Excellent read, ty.

I treid to search but didnt get any results so is there 7 other parts? Links?
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Old 11-11-2007, 04:52 PM   #18
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Re: Things it took me a while to learn part 8, Bet Sizing

Quote:
Excellent read, ty.

I treid to search but didnt get any results so is there 7 other parts? Links?
They are compiled in my blog at www.tworags.com
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Old 11-11-2007, 09:02 PM   #19
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Re: Things it took me a while to learn part 8, Bet Sizing

Thanks a lot, I have found myself in several situations where I recalled some post of your series and made a better play than I would have made before I read them.
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Old 11-12-2007, 02:35 AM   #20
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Re: Things it took me a while to learn part 8, Bet Sizing

As usual, great read Bond, thanks for posting these.

One question, in the first hand, with the set of 7's on the K high board, I'd usually use a stack-a-donk line. That is, I'd cbet flop, and then check raise the turn all in. If it gets checked back, I'm betting any river for value. On the off chance that the opponent bets something tiny on the turn, I'll raise less than all in, setting up a river shove.

I find most ssmtt opponents would bet a K there, and will struggle to get away from it facing the check raise, even though it looks ridiculously strong to me.

I'm not really sure if thats a better or worse line, but its kind of been standard for me for a while, and I'm curious as to your thoughts...
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Old 11-12-2007, 03:00 AM   #21
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Re: Things it took me a while to learn part 8, Bet Sizing

Can you sticky these? I know I miss them a lot and I'm sure I'm not the only one, but I've really enjoyed the ones I've read and can never find all of them. Thanks.
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Old 11-12-2007, 04:24 AM   #22
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Re: Things it took me a while to learn part 8, Bet Sizing

good one...
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Old 11-12-2007, 06:59 AM   #23
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Re: Things it took me a while to learn part 8, Bet Sizing

Got to say bond quality series of posts mate absolute golddust
thank you
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Old 11-12-2007, 12:22 PM   #24
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Re: Things it took me a while to learn part 8, Bet Sizing

I usually don't like posting just to say thanks (especially when a zillion others have already done so and I'm contributing nada)...

...but thanks Bond! For all of them...
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Old 11-12-2007, 01:17 PM   #25
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Re: Things it took me a while to learn part 8, Bet Sizing

Bond I love you.
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