Online Poker â€“ The Goal Behind Your Bets
An interesting thing about online poker beginners: most of the time they don’t know why they bet. They don’t have an actual goal in mind when they fire out an X-sized bet. Many will tell you ‘well, I fired out that bet to see what sort of reaction it generates with my opponents’. Other times they call, chasing a drawing hand which never materializes. A savvy poker player knows exactly what he wants to achieve with the chips he pushes into the middle every time, whether it’s through a call, a bet or a raise. There can only really be two goals behind every action at the poker table: either to make an opponent fold or to make him call with a weaker hand. The former is known as a bluff bet (when it comes against a stronger hand of course) and the latter is the value-bet.
Value betting is one of the most fundamental things in poker: when a player’s hand is better than his opponent’s range (or at least he thinks it is), he’s betting for value, that is he uses his stack to get more of his opponent’s chips into the middle before showdown. Value betting is about getting paid when one has a monster and without proper value betting skills, a player will find it impossible to generate any short or long-term profit.
What is the key question when it comes to value betting? Is your opponent going to call you with a worse hand? If you know the answer to that is ‘yes’ you should proceed with your value bet. Obviously, when it comes to value-betting, bet sizing is everything. You can never be 100% successful in your bet sizing as you never know exactly how much your opponent is willing to pay. Every time he calls one of your value bets, you will feel like you should’ve bet a bit more and every time he folds, you’ll know you should’ve bet a little bit less. Don’t stress yourself over such things though. You can make an educated guess about how much your opponent is willing to call off in a given situation, but that’s what it’ll always be: a guess. The difference between bad value-bettors and great players is in the recognition of the fact that your hand is indeed better, in the relatively accurate range on which the opponent is placed and the razor-thin nature of the value bets which draw a call from the most unlikely of opponents time and time again. There is no magic bullet that will instantly teach you how to become a great value bettor. It all comes down to experience and the kind of feel for your opponent that only comes with experience.
The bluff bet is an option which gives players the opportunity to take down a pot that they could never take down at showdown. If one is not betting for value, there’s only one other reason to bet: to intimidate an opponent into folding. Like value bets, bluffs are delicate and intricate actions: in order to succeed with a bluff, a player needs to have put his/her opponent on a relatively accurate range. He also needs to have a pretty accurate read in order to anticipate his opponent’s reaction to the bluff.
The continuation bet represents a move which is neither a bluff nor a value bet. While it may seem a lot like a bluff its goal is not to force a better hand to fold, but rather to force any hand to fold, taking down the pot right there and then.