Successful Betting

A bet is a declaration that you have the best hand and you’ll wager money on it.

Lets face it you hardly see any players losing all their chips on hands like 7-2 or 9-4 and when you do it’s because they’re in the Big Blind, got a free flop and their 2 card holding of 7-2 now looks like gold as the flop came 2-2-7 only to then go all-in and find someone else around the table with 7-7.

Betting is a tricky business. You have a product you wish to sell to other players in the two cards you hold. How much do you think other players are prepared to pay to look at your cards? Do other players think that their own pocket cards are worth more? If so there’ll be a raise. If not then they’ll fold!

Let’s take an obvious example in a holding of AA. Wow…good stuff but in order to maximize your potential winnings from these two cards you need to set a price that the other players will pay in order to continue to play along with you. Too high and they’ll all fold. Too low and you’ll get 6 or 7 callers (which you don’t want with a holding of AA believe me!).

In Texas Hold’Em you all start with 2 pocket cards unseen by anyone else but yourself. If the game was merely to bet your holding, at this time, and then the cards were turned up and a winner declared (no flop) then its fairly obvious that AA would win every time and where would the fun be in that? Every time you got AA you could bet your granny knowing full well the worst you could do is draw (as someone else may have the other two Aces) so you’d be a slam dunk cert for profitability.

Gambling in general, though, is all about percentages. We’ve already stated elsewhere that holding AA against ONE other player gives you an 80/20 win ratio. Considering that in the game of blackjack you chances of winning any hand are always around the 49% mark then holding AA against a lone opponent looks like a good bet and it is! The only thing to worry about now is getting the most money from it.

The whole idea of successful betting is to price your product accordingly and hope that people will decide that it’s fair and reasonable. Of course you may want to overprice your product in the hope that NO ONE pays it in which case you’re obviously looking to pick up the pot there and then. You should only ever do this if YOU DON’T MIND LOSING! (just in case they call and have you beat) .

Here are some situations you should start looking at to improve your game when it comes to betting…


When you’re ‘on the button or last to act and there is only yourself and the blinds remaining in the game then a raise here is often a good idea. This is because the blinds may fold and you simply pick up their value without a fight. If you didn’t raise but merely called the big blind then the blinds automatically are entitled to a cheap (in the case of the small blind) or free (in the case of the big blind) flop. Why give out free cards when you don’t need to? The rule is that if you’re going to play your cards then raise. NEVER flat call in this position.

As the game progresses then the value of the blinds increase. Blinds become more valuable then in terms of someone trying to steal them. You’ll usually find that once the blinds get above a certain level then SOMEONE at the table will raise every hand. It isn’t necessarily the case that they have a good hand but merely they see chips out in the pot that they want (the blinds) and they’ll raise to make it difficult for anyone playing after them to call unless they have a good hand.

The steal-raise

If you are last to act and all players have checked to you, betting to simply limit the number of players or take the pot is called a steal-raise. Good players will recognise fairly quickly who’s betting more than they should and take advantage of that fact to re-raise the original bettor. As, in effect, you’re attempting to STEAL the pot at the time of your bet then this concept should only be used when you have a hand that can withstand a re-raise back at you. Nut flush draws with 2 over cards to the flop is a good example.

The check-raise

Check raising is the concept of firstly checking your ‘made hand’ in the hope that a player to act after you comes out betting. When the action comes back around to you you can then re-raise and hope to extract even more chips from the original bettor. You need to be in an early position for this to be effective.

The opener

This is when the person first to act makes a substantial bet making it expensive for the other players, still in the hand, to call. Its intention is to limit the number of players. A good time to make this kind of play is when the flop brings cards like 2-2-6 or 3-3-7. The reason being that its would be highly unlikely that these card values would still be in the field of play so by betting first you’re giving the players, still in the hand, the impression that you got lucky and hit one yourself even if you’re only holding 8-7. Remember in these situations, where the flop is raggedy, the first person to bet usually wins the pot especially if there was no pre-flop raising. This tactic is best used with few players in on the hand.

Need To Know Block :

Remember…everything has a price! When you are betting you are trying to guesstimate the correct amount of chips to bet in order that people will give you the price you’re looking for. If you guess too high then people may not play with you and you potentially lose money because you’ve set the price too high. Similarly if you set the price too low then you may get too many players interested in your price and you’ll then lose money again because one of them may well outdraw you and take the pot themselves.

Here’s a quick test:

Scenario – You have 5000 points in front of you and the blinds are 100/200. You are an average stack. You are dealt AA as your pocket holding.

How many chips would you bet at this point in order to get:

  1. Possibly no players to play with you
  2. Possibly 1 or two players to call your bet
  3. As many players as possible to call your bet.


  1. All-In
  2. 1000-2000
  3. 200

Remember…the more players you want, or don’t mind, being in a pot the less you can bet. The less number of players required equals a higher bet in order to discourage those players with ‘marginal hands’ from joining in. Aces play very well against 1 other player (over 80% chance of winning) but not so well against multiple players.

Next week’s article is called "Raising"