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Do you know why you’re betting?


Sky Matsuhashi

on April 20, 2022

Betting for no reason is a huge leak as it leads to thoughtless, -EV decisions. If you're just betting to bet or raising to raise, you're spewing chips at your opponents and the smart ones will be able to capitalize on that.

In this episode, I discuss the 3 real reasons to make any bet or raise: 1) for value, 2) for isolation, or 3) as a bluff. And I dive into the possible outcomes of each bet or raise you make.

Having a reason behind each bet won't always give you the results you want, but having a reason leads to more logical decisions and better strategies throughout every hand you play.

Listen to this episode as you follow along below:

Betting For Value

We bet for value when we believe our hand is better than our opp’s and we want to earn more of their chips.  Value bets want calls from weaker hands and ranges.

If your opponent's a station and will call larger bets with weaker hands, then shade your bet larger.  If he’s a nit or a TAG who won’t overpay with lesser hands, then shade it smaller to elicit a call.

Regarding draws, make sure you charge enough to make your opponent's call unprofitable.  Know the outs and odds for many common draws.

Possible Results

  • We get max value from weaker hands/ranges.
  • Protection against draws.
  • Information on their range.
  • Gain information on the player's tendencies.
  • Sometimes you get sucked out on.
  • Sometimes they have a better hand and your value bet turns into giving them value.


Learn how to analyze your bets and raises with the Hand Reading Workbook:


Betting For Isolation

Pre-flop you’ll sometimes want to isolate one single player and play post-flop with him.  Your raise in this spot is with the intention of getting HU on the flop with this specific player.

Future Expected Value (fEV) reasons for isolating a specific player:

  • They call with a super wide and weak range.
  • They’re a station that calls down and gives max value with marginal hands.
  • They’re fit or fold and will ditch on any board they don’t have a solid piece of.

So when isolating a player, we’re looking to have the following advantages:

  • Skill Advantage – we're a better player.
  • Positional Advantage – having position gives us an informational advantage and allows for pot control.
  • Card Advantage – we have a stronger range than the opponent's.

Possible Results

  • Limiting the field.
  • The isolation raise doesn’t work and you’re now multi-way.
  • Everyone folds and you win the pot.
  • You get raised and have to fold or get max value out of your killer hand.


Betting as a Bluff

A bluff is when you bet with the intention of getting your opponent to fold a better hand.  Pure and simple: Bluff bets don’t want calls.  You normally make bluffs when you likely won’t win at SD, and indications say your opp will often fold.

One important idea:  Don’t bluff stations as they’ll call with anything but an absolute whiff.

Possible Results

  • They all fold – great!
  • You get called – what's your plan for the next street?
  • They raise – will you re-raise bluff or fold?

One last thing I want to discuss is why we want to have a reason for every bet, and it’s because:

A reason to bet leads to a plan for the hand.

Before you find your reason to bet, you have to consider many things:

  • The strength of your hand.
  • How the opponent views you and your likely range.
  • The range your opp has and his possible hand strength.
  • Stats and how your opp will likely react to whatever bet you’re making.
  • Board texture and future cards.
  • Any table dynamics or tourney dynamics that might affect play.
  • If your opp is tilting or is on his A-game.

Teach yourself to have a reason to bet by playing lots of FOCUS sessions where you use a tick sheet with 3 columns for “value”, “bluff” and “isolation”. Before you bet or raise, consider why you're doing it, and put a tick mark under the appropriate column.



Here’s my challenge to you for this episode:  I want you to commit to having a reason for every bet you make.  Play a few focus sessions with a “value”, “bluff” and “isolation” tick sheet and use it prior to every bet/raise you make. Notice what types of things you look for before you solidify your reason, and try to add more considerations as you practice having reasons for each betting decision.

Now it's your turn to take action and do something positive for your poker game!


Support the Show

I'm so appreciative of these poker peeps for getting my Smart HUD for PokerTracker 4: Devon Gillis, Veera Gadusatla, Stephane Martin, Juan Rodriguez, Jay Goosney, Kris Pazdrag, Fellows, Gary Gallagher, Emmanuele Salvati, Eugene Grishin, Mack, Paul Roberts, Jürgen Fuchsbauer, Edward Apanna, Guy Brooks, Tarun Goyal, Rob Craven, Wenna Matriz, Jelle Van Hoof, Michael Prall, Gary Redwood, Wesley Peeters, Gary Wharmby, Jared Walker, James Gonzalez, Ioannis Pinas (ee-wah-nees), Thimo Neumann, Kelly Lord, Grey and Robert Brown bought the Smart HUD with a 1.5 hour webinar for PokerTracker 4.  It’s the best online poker HUD in the business! 16 elements in the HUD and 7 custom popups. This is what every online player needs to maximally exploit opponents.


Sky Matsuhashi

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