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Bet Sizing Terms, Poker Variants and Counting Outs | Q&A | Podcast #103


Sky Matsuhashi

on October 26, 2016

I answer 3 listener Q’s about bet sizing terms pre and post-flop, learning through poker variants and properly counting outs.

Download and listen to this episode as you follow along below.


Question #1 from Mindy: Bet Sizing Terms (2:25)

Hi Sky,
My question for you is about bet sizing. When I read about betting or hear people talk about betting I hear two different kinds of talk. Sometimes, people refer to their bet sizes in terms of the big blind (ex, “I bet 3 big blinds”). Other times people refer to their bet size in terms of the pot (ex. “I made a 1/2 pot bet”). Are there situations that you want to think of it one way and other situations where you want to think of it a different way? I've been thinking in terms of big blind when I'm betting pre-flop. Then, I've been thinking of my bets in terms of the pot when it's post-flop. Is this kinda right?
Thanks for your help and thanks for the podcast!!!

I see bet sizing pretty much that same way; pre-flop is in bb's and post-flop is in relation to the pot.

There are two reasons I switch to thinking in terms of the pot in post-flop play:

1. Break-even math is quick and easy

Some key numbers:

:: 1/2 pot bluff needs to work 33% of the time.

:: ¾ pot bets need to work 43%

:: Full pot-sized bets need to work 50%

Knowing these three allow you to estimate the break-even point for all the bet sizes in between.  It’s also good to know how often you have to be right to call these bet sizes.

:: Calling a ½ pot bet means you need 25% equity

:: ¾ pot-sized bet needs 30% equity to call

:: Full pot-sized bet needs 33% equity to call

The equity % means you need your call to win you the pot at least that percentage of the time.

2. Stack to Pot Ratio

The smaller the ratio, the more likely you’ll get it in (gii) at some point. At a 1:1 ratio on the flop, you’ll gii or fold before the river (like $10 effective stacks and $10 in the pot). If the SPR is at 10:1, there’s got to be lots of betting and raising to get the full stack in by showdown (like $100 effective and $10 pot).

But, post-flop I also think about bb's when assessing what the pot size will be on the next street and the possible size of future bets.  For example, the opponent and I start with 100bb's.  There was a raise and I called pre-flop.  So now there's 7bb's in the pot with 97bb's behind.  He bets 3.5bb’s for 1/2 pot and I call.  Now there's 14bb's in the pot with 93bb's behind.  Knowing how big the pot is in bb's and the stacks behind helps me to gauge the SPR as we go and how likely we will gii by the river.

Regarding future bets, I use the opponent's bet sizing to estimate the bets I'll be facing when calling on a draw.  If he bet 3/4 pot on the flop (in this instance about 5bb's), then the pot will be 17bb's on the turn.  He's likely to make another 3/4 pot bet at 13bb's.  Do I want to call the flop 5bb bet and face a 13bb bet on the turn?  If so, I'll make the call.  But if the draw is very weak (like a 6high fd or the low oesd) then I might just fold even if the price is right.  I'll do this b/c I think my opp is aggressive, and the good pricing now will be bad pricing on the turn.

Question #2 from Kedaren: Poker Variants (7:05)

Hey Sky,
I would like to know your views on playing more than one variation of poker. For example, no limit and limit.
Would this allow us to learn more about the game by exposing us to different views and ways to play the game or is it detrimental?
Thanks, Kedaren

I love playing different poker variants. You can learn and adapt plays from one variation to another. There are lots of things from Stud that you can take to NLHE for example. I think that any poker learning is good poker learning.

But, I do caution against toggling back and forth too frequently. If you're really interested in limit and NLHE, then I'd suggest playing and studying one for an extended amount of time, then switch to the other for an extended amount of time. It's best for the sake of learning to stick to one and keep your study and play around that game for a time. Just one day here and one day there doesn't cut it as you won’t be learning too much in either game.

For example, you'll get so much more if you spend one weak each on stealing, cbetting and 3betting in NLHE; then the next three weeks studying the same topics for Limit HE.

Question #3 from Alene: Counting Outs (11:45)

Hi Sky,
I've been studying poker math, counting outs, calculating pot odds and implied odds etc. I know I have much to learn but one concept keeps bothering me.
One thing that confuses me is the assumption that all of the outs are possible, this seems flawed.
In a full ring live game, 9 players, each player has received 2 cards, removing 18 cards from the deck.
How can the calculations based on outs be close to accurate with so many cards gone?
Thanks, Alene

When you think about your outs, you're not counting the physical cards still in the deck and not dealt to players or burned or part of the board. You're counting the ranks and suits of the cards you don't know about yet.

Flush Draw Example

You have a flush draw with two undercards to the board, no straight draw and you think a pair won't help you. (like 6h5h on an AhKhQs) You only have 9 outs for the flush. If it's a full ring game, so after the flop is dealt there are still 30 cards left in the deck (52 minus 18 dealt, one burn, three on the flop). This number doesn't help you because you don't know any of the ranks/suits.

But, you've seen and can account for 5 cards (your two cards and the flop). So, with 52 cards in a deck, there are still 47 other ranks and suits you don't know about. The turn can be any one of those 47.  There are 9 hearts that can make your flush, so your odds of hitting it on the next card are 9/47 or 19.1%. If you miss your heart, then on the river you've still got 9 outs out of 46 cards remaining for a chance to hit of 9/46 or 19.5%. So, your total chance of hitting the heart on the turn or the river is about 38.6% (the 4/2 rule is pretty accurate here; with 9 outs on the flop 4/2 says we have about a 36% chance of hitting it by the river and on the turn it's 18% on the river).

With poker being a game of imperfect information, this is the way to go.  I believe it's statistically accurate and it makes logical sense to me.  I don't know how we would calculate outs/odds with 30 cards remaining on the flop and then 28 cards on the turn, seeing as how we don't know which ranks and suits are still available in the physical deck.

Up Next…

In podcast 104, I'll begin an epic 3 or 4 parter on MED #3: 3bets.  Don’t miss out.

Until next time, study smart, play much and make your next session the best one yet.


Sky Matsuhashi

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