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Your Poker Leaks #6: Betting for No Reason | Podcast #49


Sky Matsuhashi

on March 29, 2016

Betting for no reason is the 6th leak we're plugging in this series.  It causes spew and leads to non-thinking play.  We’ve all done this and sometimes still do, hitting the “raise” or “bet” button just because we have the pre-flop initiative.

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


Leak Plugging: Betting for No Reason | #49

Podcast Mission (1:50)

My mission for today is to teach you the only 3 reasons for betting or raising, and how having a good reason will lead to more logical decisions and better strategies throughout every hand you play.

Betting for no reason is a leak many of us have or have had at one time.  There are only three reasons to bet: 1) for value, 2) for isolation, or 3) as a bluff.

Bet For Value (3:00)

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.

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 opp's call unprofitable.  Know the odds and outs for many common draws.

Possible Results

  • We get max value from weaker hands
  • Protection against draws
  • Info on their range
  • Gain info on the player's tendencies
  • Sometimes you get sucked out on

Bet For Isolation (6:39)

Pre-flop you’ll sometimes want to isolate one single player and play post-flop with him.  Your raise here 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
  • 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

Bet as a Bluff (11:50)

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

  • You bluff, he folds
  • You bluff, he calls – what will you do on the next street?
  • You bluff, he raises – will you re-raise 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 opp 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 make a tick sheet and every time you bet or raise, make a tick mark next to the word “bluff”, “value” or “iso.”

This week's Smart Poker Study Newsletter will feature a FOCUS Session video where I worked on having reasons for every bet I made, either isolation raises, bluff bets and value bets.

Podcast Challenge (16:25)

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 where you use your own tick sheet and mark off each “bluff/value/iso” bet 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.


Sky Matsuhashi

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