The reason behind why we bet is deceptively straightforward: because we expect the money we put into the pot to be profitable. That said, you need to know why your bets can be profitable and today we’re going to look at the two biggies. You either make a bet based on value or as a bluff. Every profitable bet or raise in poker falls in to either one of these categories. To be able to make successful bets, it’s imperative that you learn to identify which category your bet or raise falls in to.
Betting For Value
Just as there are two reasons to place a bet, there are two reasons to bet for value. You either believe that you have the best hand and you think your opponent will call with a worse hand or that you want your opponent to call. While we never actually know if we have the best hand (unless we’re holding a royal flush,) all that really matters is that we have good reason to believe we have the best hand when we bet.
Figuring out whether we likely have the better hand or not takes some skill, and that’s a skill that comes with time and practice – you have to learn how to assign ranges to our betting, for instance. However, the key point is that we make a profit every time our opponent puts money in to the pot with a worse hand. It doesn’t matter whether our opponent is going outdraw us later in the hand, when we bet, we do it because we believe our opponent had worse equity during the specific round we’re playing.
Betting As A Bluff
Just like betting for value, there are two reasons we bet as a bluff: we either believe we have the worst hand but want our opponent to fold a better hand, or we just want our opponent to fold even if we think we have a straight shot with a decent hand. Betting as a bluff takes more skill than betting for value because it’s harder to have a good reason to believe that we can get an opponent to fold a better hand. Nonetheless, it’s still a profitable bet to make when done properly.
Always Know Why You bet
If you don’t know whether you’re betting for value or as a bluff, then you shouldn’t be betting in the first place. Many beginning players in poker lose money because they fire out bets and raises without knowing why they’re making bets in the first place.
Knowing why you bet is as important as knowing how to bet. Take the time to analyze a hand before you bet to get the most out of your chips.