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Q&A: Post-flop Bet Sizing, Upping Aggression and Total Implied Odds | Episode 157


Sky Matsuhashi

on September 24, 2017

In this episode, I answer three of your questions about post-flop bet sizing, working to increase your aggression and total implied odds.

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


Q1: Post-flop Bet Sizing (2:20)

This came in from Han Trinh:

The issue is post-flop value bet sizing against different board textures, when to slow play or fast play, and when to be cautious or not.


When it comes to value bet sizing, you want to size it based on what you think your opponent will pay.  The fishier or more stationy the player, the more they're willing to pay.  And, the harder they hit the flop, the more they're willing to pay.  I think it's part skill and art, and it takes a feel for the player, the situation and their range/board interaction.

In order to get better at this, I recommend that you:

  • Do hand history reviews where you look at value betting hands.  Filter for hand strength like flopping TP+, and gauging whether or not you bet to get max value.
  • Do more than just reviewing hands, do full-on hand reading exercises where you assign a pre-flop range and narrow it through the streets (like in my 66 Days of Hand Reading videos on YouTube).

This is the kind of thing that takes hard work and lots of time.  The more you do this, the better you’ll get at it.  This type of practice will help you understand ranges, range vs hand and range vs range equities.  By analyzing what your opponents are calling your bets with, you'll begin to gain a greater understanding of what they're willing to call.

Board Textures

Regarding board textures, I wouldn't adjust my sizes based solely on board textures.  Base it more on your opponent's range and what you think they're willing to call.

When it comes to slow or fast playing, that just depends on your opponent and what you think they have.  Against fishy players, you want to fast play and bet, bet, bet.  Against someone who likely won't pay off or missed the flop, slow play to lull them into thinking you don't have a hand.

For playing cautiously, that should be something you're always doing.  When your opponents are calling every street, ask yourself, “What are they calling with?”  When they suddenly raise or bet, ask yourself, “What hands would do this?”  Never just think that you can bet, bet, bet or call, call, call without a care about their hand.  Their actions are trying to tell you something, so always play cautiously and have clear, logical reasons for your decisions.

Q2: Working to Increase Aggression (6:40)

This comes to us from Camilo Colorado:

The one poker skill I need to improve right now is aggression. Right now I play a fit or fold strategy. Very ABC poker.


I recommend trying a few things to work out of your TAG nature:

Create ranges to open, cold call and 3bet by position (EP, CO, BTN, Blinds).

This helps you bring your off the felt strategical planning to your in-game play. If you’ve determined a hand is worth opening, then you open. If worth 3betting, then 3bet.  Also, making ranges allows you more time to assess each situation, so you don’t have to stick with your ranges.  For example, maybe you determined that KTs is the worst suited King you’ll open in EP.  When you’re dealt this hand, you already know it’s worth opening so there’s no need to consider the strength of the hand, saving you some time from thinking about that.  This frees up brain space to think about the situation you’re in.

Plan your cbet and post-flop raising strategies.

Choose the types of hands you’ll start raising or betting more often with. If you find yourself playing every draw passively, choose nfd’s and 2nd nfd’s to start raising, check-raising or betting when checked to.  If you play every 2nd pair and non-pair hand passively, choose some to practice getting aggressive with.  Try different sizings of bets and raises to see what’s effective.  Go for value more often when you have a hand that’s ahead of a good portion of your opponent’s range.

Have a specific goal each session before you play.

Maybe a goal is to steal more. Then you need to pay more attention to those in the blinds and their style of play along with their stats.  Maybe your goal is to raise more cbets as bluffs.  Having an aggressive goal will keep your mind focused on being aggressive.

Drop down in stakes (and play online).

It's tough to drop lower than $1/2 LIVE, but online you can go as low as you need to go so you can feel free to play as aggressively as you want. This is where you can play 5NL and 3bet every hand or open every hand and it's not going to cost you much.  And, if you do this with some intent behind your aggressive actions, you can learn a lot about how to play a better, more aggressive game.

Q3:  Total Implied Odds (14:55)

Thanks for the email, Shane.

How do I work out the total implied odds over all 3 streets based on knowledge of Villain's bet sizing and other relevant factors?


I don't know the answer to this.  If you want to estimate how big a pot will be on the river, open an Excel spreadsheet and do some calculations with various bet and raise sizings over the streets to give you a range of possible river pot sizes.  I only think about implied odds in two different scenarios:

1. Pre-flop speculative hand choices

I'll use implied odds if I'm considering calling a speculative hand pre-flop (small-mid pp's to set mine, suited-connectors and suited Aces).  This is where I'll use the 20x rule to play these speculative hands (there's 20x the size of the bet I'm facing in the stacks behind).

2. Post-flop draw chasing

Before I chase draws, even with good outs/odds in the moment, I'll consider what I can possibly win if I chase my draw.  The other night I folded a 9 high flush draw because the opponent only had $4 in his stack with a $1.35 pot on the flop.  There wasn't enough behind to make it worth the chase.

What are Implied Odds?

Implied odds are just the stack behind divided by the amount you have to put into the pot.  So, if you both started with $100 stacks, after putting in the pre-flop money you're both left with $97.  His bet of $6 means that there's 15x behind to potentially win (91/6).

When I'm considering whether or not to draw, it's a combination of the pot odds I'm being offered right now vs how likely I am to hit my draw.  I use the stack behind to sway me one way or the other on close decisions.  So, let's say I had a fd for about an 18% chance to hit.  My opponent bets 1/2 pot to $3.75.  I need to call $3.75 to win a total pot of $14.  3.75/14 means I mathematically need 25% equity to make a break-even call.  I've only got 18% equity, so it's a bad call and I should fold.  But, if he started the hand with a full stack, there's tons of potential money to make, so I might choose to call.  Also, there might be other reasons to call like I could be IP, and he may check/fold the next street.  Maybe he's a one and done player and he'll check the turn, giving me a free river card.  Maybe I have the nut fd with two overs and can hit an overpair to the flop and win that way.

Challenge (20:15)

Here’s my challenge to you for this episode:  Start increasing your aggression in logical ways.  Choose your 3bet and 4bet ranges ahead of time, and practice making the 3bets.  Don’t do it willy-nilly, though.  If you’re 3betting for value, know that your opponent can continue with worse hands.  If you’re making a bluff cbet, know that they have the capability of folding on this board.  Becoming a more aggressive player requires you to be more comfortable with aggression, and that comes with practicing your aggression.

Now it’s your turn to take action and do something positive for your poker game.

Support the Show

John Walsh is upping his opponent destruction skills by using my Smart HUD for PokerTracker 4.  If you don't use a HUD to better understand your opponents, you're missing out.  Be like John and improve your HUD use by clicking here for the Smart HUD here.

Webinar learning is on the rise, and these lovely poker peeps upped their games by learning from some of my webinars:

Thank you all so very much!


Sky Matsuhashi

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