Sunday, May 23, 2010

Bet Sizing for fun and Profit

I've been working on bet sizing in the past few weeks. Last night bet sizing adjustments helped me climb from the red to the black in short order.

I was down about 25 big blinds when I picked up pocket tens under the gun. I had three bad players at my table - a 55/14, a 35/3, and the fantastic 77/0 - the latter being shielded from ruin by the poker gods, as is often the case. You get frustrated watching the guy call bets with bottom pair and trip up on the turn or hit an improbable straight, but you have to stay the course.

I raised up my tens to $1 - 4 big blinds instead of three, something I usually do in the first two positions at a 6 handed table. Make 'em pay to have position on me and all that. The 35/3 called me from the button, as did the 77/0 from a blind. Delightful times.

In a small stroke of luck, my tens stayed an overpair on a 357 rainbow board. Now I had already seen one of these yahoos call a raise with precisely 46o today and stack aces, and of course this was the first thing that went through my mind. But the math says I have the best hand the overwhelming majority of the time here, and I need to bet. I also need to be to protect against the 16 overcards that can come on the turn.

In the past, I would bet an enticing $1.80-$2 into the 3.25 pot, keeping them in. But the bad player who calls too much will call $2.50 just as easily, right? I make it $2.50 and sure enough, they both come along.

The turn brings a 5, which pairs the board. Of course, my heart sinks a little - a 77/0 can have any card in his range - certainly a 5. And he can call any bet with middle pair hoping for trips. But the math says I'm still ahead. In truth, just about every card in the deck is a "scare card" for my tens on this board:

J,Q,K,A: overcards
8,9: not so scary
7,5,3,: pairs the board
4,6,: puts 4 card straight out there
2: not too scary.

So am I going to be scared of every card that comes? Doesn't sound right. When 77/0 checks, I'm pretty sure he's missed - his prior play tells me he comes out firing pot after he makes his hand. Time to bet again, and no half potter - I bet $7 into %10.75, and figure I may be in for a tough river shove if one or both of them call. Fortunately for me, they both fold.

A bit later in the same session, the 77/0 limps, and I raise to $1 with AQ. We're heads up to the flop, which comes QJ2 rainbow. Top/Top equals nuts against this guy. This time, when he checks, I take my bet sizing to an extreme and overbet $3 into a $2.35 pot. I haven't seen him fold many flops, let's see if he folds this one. He does NOT, and the pot is $8.35.

The turn bricks a six, he checks. I make it $7. Too rich for his blood this time - he folds.

(there was another play I could have employed on the turn to earn even more money against this player - a check. This guy liked to make big river bets on every board like he was sandbagging a big hand. I had caught him once doing it for a small pot, but he kept it up over and over. I briefly considered this, but slowplaying top pair to induce a bluff seemed a bit too tricky for this player. Plus, had I checked and let a gutshot or a stray king catch me, I would have been sick to my stomach for three days. Against the truly awful players, putting your money in with the best hand is usually the correct strategy).

These two hands turned my little "$ won" graphic from red to green on the table, where it stayed until I logged off.

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