Texas Holdem Poker Betting Strategy

You should have a reason before betting, checking, calling or raising. If you ask any player why they bet in a certain situations they will say, "Because I had the best poker hand." This is a very common reason why people bet, it is never a good enough reason to bet.

Your reason for betting should be about the expected result value from betting. What will happen if you bet? How does that result compare with what will happen if you don't bet? The typical reason to bet or raise is to simply get more money in the pot. The situations where you can get more money in the pot depend on the odds - both of the odds of your hand winning and of the money odds. If the odds of your winning are greater than the money odds from a bet, then you will profit by betting. Before we delve into the ideas and theories of betting we need to discuss the different kinds of odds you need to consider when thinking about a bet.

Money odds

To the new poker player, the concept of money odds will often be confusing. It is really not that difficult: At any given point in the play of the hand, there are three sources of money and each needs to consider it separately. There is money that's already in the pot. That is called "pot odds." There is money which is going into the pot in the current betting round. That is called "bet odds." And there is money which will be going into the pot on future betting rounds which is called as "implied odds."


Past pot odds
Current bet odds
Future implied odds

These money sources are important but their importance needs to be considered in different ways.

Pot Odds

Pot odds are an important consideration when you are deciding whether to call with a hand that is most likely not the best hand. Pot odds are the ratio of the amount of the current bet to the amount of money already in the pot. For example, if five players call before after the flop, on the flop one player bets and one has called, then there are seven bets in the pot, and you are getting 7-1 odds to call. You should remember that if a player behind you raises then your pot odds will reduce to half.

Suppose you have 87 and the flop is 952. Should you call?

This is an example of when the pot odds are important. You have got an inside straight draw on the flop. Any six will make you give straight and the flop does not have two of anyone suit so it is not possible for a 6 to make someone else a flush.

There are forty-seven unseen cards and the next card is equally likely to be any one of them. You have four "outs," which is another way of saying that four out of the forty-seven will make your straight, forty-three don't help you. Therefore, the odds against making a straight on the next card are 43-4 or 11-1. For every time you make the straight, there will be about eleven times you don't make it. With 7-1 odds, the pot is possibly not large enough for a call. If the pot had eleven bets in it and you are reasonably sure that you won't be raised after you call, you should call a bet to draw one card to an inside straight.

To evaluate your hand in terms of pot implied odds, you need to keep track of the size of the pot. When you are keeping track of the money going into the pot, it is generally easier to count the number of bets and calls rather than the total amount of money. If ten bets have put into the pot and you are now considering calling a bet and a raise (two bets) then you are getting pot odds of 5-1. At the turn, when the bet size doubles, just divide the count of the number of bets in the pot by two to put the pot-odds calculations in terms of the new bet size.

Pot odds are significant anytime you are considering a call, not when you are on a draw and have more cards to come. Pot odds should always be considered whenever you have an average hand and someone bets on the river. Here in the betting, the pot odds are very large and you need to compare the pot odds with your estimate that a player is bluffing or is betting an average hand little worse than your hand. Often in many cases the pot will be large enough to be worth a call even if the chances of a bluff are very small.

Bet Odds

The odds on the current bet are essential when deciding to bet or raise. It depends on the number of callers. It is much more difficult to estimate than the pot odds because you need to predict the number of callers. Raises from players still to act don't cut down your bet odds, however, except to the extent that a raise may cause a potential caller to fold.

Bet odds are an ignored part of poker theory. Many texts would suggest you should bet or raise whenever you possibly have the best hand, but if that is the only time you bet or raise, then you are missing out on more potential profit. You should raise or bet whenever the odds your getting on the bet (the number of callers) is greater than the odds your hand will end up the best hand. Further in this text we have shown you how to determine this in various situations.

Implied Odds

Implied odds are also very essential consideration anytime you have action to take whether it's calling or betting. Implied odds can be very difficult to calculate, however, because it involves estimating what will happen on future betting rounds.

In the inside straight draw example, we used when discussing pot odds, the existence of implied odds suggest you can call with a draw to hands like an inside straight even though the pot isn't giving you enough odds. The pot was giving you 7-1 odds and you were 11-1 against making your hand on the next card, but if you make your hand on the next card, you will likely win more than just what is in the pot now. For example, if you know that the bettor will bet again on the turn, will call a raise and will call a bet on the river then you are getting implied odds of 6-1 (bets on the turn and the river are twice the size of the bet you have to call on the flop). It means you would need pot odds of about 5-1 to combine with your implied odds to give you good enough odds to draw to an inside poker straight. There is also some chance that you will make your straight and still lose, so you would usually want the pot to be giving you something like 9-1 to compensate for those times which you lose.

It is important to consider the implied odds that other players likely have. Drawing hands have high implied odds because they will win extra bets if the hand is made but it will not lose any extra bets if the hand misses.

However, you should not overestimate your implied odds by counting on future calls that might not appear. Flush draws are an example of hands which often don't have implied odds as you might think. Many players will slow down and check when a third flush card hits the board, but they will bet when a third card to a straight represents. The flush is more obvious as an example and you should count on being able to raise. By luck, you will be getting enough pot odds to draw to flush and don't need to count on implied odds. It is often correct to accept pot odds just a notch or two less than ignoring implied odds would suggest.

Reasons To Bet

As said earlier, you should have some reasons before taking any action on a hand. Make a plan. There are two situations when you want to bet - one is when you have the probable best hand and the other is when you have a good draw. These situations where you will prefer to bet, but they aren't the reason to bet. The reason to bet involve the odds, either pot odds, bet odds, or implied odds depending on the given situation.

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