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‘The Course’ Skill #6 ‘Making Live Reads’ #30


Sky Matsuhashi

on February 11, 2016

Bet sizing is such an important part of live reads that we need to practice it as much as possible so we can exploit our opponent's tendencies.

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


‘Making Live Reads' | Podcast #30

Podcast Mission

My mission for today is to show you how to look for bet sizing tells from your opponents.

7 Step Process for getting the most from Skill #6: ‘Making Live Reads'


  • Title: Skill #6. Making Live Reads; Starts off discussing the previous skills and how they lead to this one. He says here: “The most important live read is the bet sizing tell.”
  • 22 pages long
  • Headers:
    • Bet Sizing Tells – this is the meat of the chapter, goes on for many pages and talks about lots of opp bet sizing tells as well as dissecting your own bet sizing tells.
    • Physical Appearance
    • Betting Fashions
    • Physical Tells
    • Final Thoughts

Set a Goal

Now that we have a basic understanding of the chapter, we want to read productively and effectively.  To do this, I’ve devised 3 questions, and finding the answers to these is our goal while reading.

  • What skills can I learn from this chapter? I’m so pumped to learn about bet sizing tells, not only to exploit my opp’s but to learn what tells I might be giving off myself.
  • Why are these skills important or relevant to my game? The more of our opp’s mistakes that we pick-up on, the more we can exploit ‘em.  And when playing online, like I mostly do, I don’t have a lot of the physical appearance or micro-tells that LIVE pros talk about.  Bet sizing is one of the best tells I’ve got to work with online.
  • How can I implement these skills in my game? Let’s read and find out how we can practice our bet size reading skills.


Great chapter.  I fully recommend pickup up this book as there’s so much here I can dedicate 4 episodes to the topic of bet sizing tells, but I’m only doing this one.  One thing that Ed Miller said that I’d like to focus on is:

  • If you’re the one betting or raising, then you’re the one potentially giving off bet-sizing tells, and your opponents have no opportunity to give them to you.

Until I read this chapter this is an idea I’ve never thought about.  I often try to take the initiative in every hand I play to either get value when I’ve got a strong hand, or to blow him off his hand when he’s weak.  With this new way of thinking, we let the opp take initiative (not always) and based on his bet sizings we can determine if a call is in order, a fold or a bluff raise.

Summarize and Analyze

  • If you’re doing all the betting, you’re limiting the info you can gain from your opp’s.
  • No bet sizing tells = less info for you to exploit.
  • We need to be patient and play out hands through the turn and river to catch our opp making bet-sizing errors.
  • Sometimes it’s a good idea to just flat call the flop to see what your opp does on the turn. Raising to gain the initiative isn’t always the best play.

So to examine bet-sizing tells, we really only need to look at one thing: hands that went to SD.  We’ve got to see what our opp’s had to know what their sizings meant on each street.

So choose a date and filter for SD hands.  As we review the hands while looking specifically for bet sizing tells, make a list of the different sizings along with what they meant.

I suggest looking at these sizings: minbet, minraise, 1/2pot, 2/3pot, 3/4pot, psb and more than a psb

I also suggest recording the reasons you think they had for whatever bet-size they used: value, bluff, weak and scared.  The reason for using a sheet like this during your studies is it helps you spot patterns and keeps you focused on the task at hand which is examining bet-sizing tells.  Example:


Take Action

Now for the most important part in this whole process – taking action on what we’ve learned.

So now that we’ve done some analyzing of bet sizings our opp’s use, it’s time to put our ideas to the test and practice reading bet sizes in a few FOCUS sessions.  And seeing as how every hand contains betting at some point, we should have plenty to think about.

I suggest playing just 2 tables and watch every hand while paying particular attention to your opp’s bet sizings.  Whether your involved in a hand or not, when it gets to SD you should hit the replayer and see if his bet sizings made sense to you.  Mark any interesting or confusing hands in your poker tracking software for you to really dissect in tomorrow’s HH review.

If you have no idea of the strength of an opponent’s hand, consider checking and allow him to take the lead.  See if he does, and if so, what does his bet-sizing tell you?

When you see obvious bet sizing tells, make very specific notes on opp’s.  Some notes I’ve taken before are “minopens w/ premium hands looking for a raise” and “bets psb on river for value to look bluffy.”

Pay attention to your own bet sizing as well and try not to give off tells of your own.

At the end of your session, answer the following Q’s:

  • How do I feel about the session played?
  • How did I like employing the skills learned?
  • Do I think this skill has some value and does it merit further review before fully integrating it into my repertoire?


The next day you’ll do an assessment of your session in a HH review.  Filter for all hands that went to SD, and pay particular attention to any hands that you marked for review.  Continue to track the bet sizes and reasons for bets as you see them on your note sheet.

Rinse, Repeat, Review

Now that you’ve made the initial assessment, it’s time to take action again in another session and try to read the strength of your opp’s hands through their bet sizings.  Just repeat steps 5-7 here for a few more sessions until you feel you’ve got a good grasp of the bet sizings your opp’s use.

And, this is the kind of thing you’ll want to do every time you move up in levels or if you play at different sites.  People often follow the crowd so bets can be differ based on stakes and site you play.


Here’s my challenge to you for this episode:  Purposely play at least 3 sessions where your focus is on reading your opp’s bet sizes.  Keep a note sheet in front of you and make a tick mark every time you’re correct on your read, and another tick mark for every time you read the bet incorrectly.  See how you progress in this regard over these three sessions and use your daily study time effectively by filtering for SD hands and spending the entire time analyzing bet sizes.

Purchase your own copy of ‘The Course'.

Check out the rest of the episodes in this 11-part series:

  1. How to Learn from Poker Strategy Books
  2. Play a Simple and Effective Preflop Strategy | Skill #1
  3. Don't Pay People Off | Skill #2
  4. Assess Your Hand Value | Skill #3
  5. Barreling | Skill #4
  6. Evaluating Board Texture | Skill #5
  7. Making LIVE Reads | Skill #6
  8. Emotional Numbing | Skill #7
  9. Exploiting Aggression | Skill #8
  10. Playing Deep | Skill #9
  11. Taking on the Pros | Skill #10


Sky Matsuhashi

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