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Value betting is often misunderstood by new poker players.  It simply means betting with what you believe is the best hand hoping that your opponents will call or raise with weaker hands.  As simple as this idea is, it needs to be understood well for you to become a better poker player.

How to See Your Opponent

One of the biggest errors any poker player can make—and some veteran players make this mistake quite often—is that to be a really good poker player, you need to leave your ego at the door.  Poker is not about you!  Poker is about your opponents. This Juicy Stakes Poker review will put value betting into the context of knowing your opponent.

As much as poker is about your opponents it is also just about the inanimate cards.  The cards don’t do anything; they just “are”.  The key is what you do and what your opponents do and if you make the game all about you, you will lose out on being able to plan your next move based upon what your opponent had dome or might do.

In short, your opponent is just as important— or even more important—than you are. 

A corollary to thus observation is that you should see yourself as your opponents see you rather than as you see yourself.

What Does This Have to Do with Value Betting?

It has everything to do with value betting.  Value betting is an attempt to increase the “value” of your hand by getting an opponent to call or raise with losing cards.   You need to “see” your opponent very well to be able to bet just the right amount to get that call or raise!

Even before we get deeper into the idea of value betting, we need to fully understand that value betting when it is done successfully is a victory for the benefits of subsuming your ego into observing your opponents and of observing them well.

See Yourself as a Businessperson

In his wonderful book about business in the 1960’s called Up the Organization, Robert Townsend related a story involving a taxi driver in whose taxi Townsend was riding.  He was having a nice conversation with the driver and, since he was going to be in that city for a few days, wanted the driver to take him around.  So he asked the driver for his business card.

The driver said that he didn’t have a business card and since he was just a taxi driver he didn’t think he needed a business card.  Townsend responded that a taxi driver is no less a businessman than any other businessman.  He also said that the driver might be able to set fixed rides with customers just as Townsend wanted to set a few fixed rides with him.

The next time Townsend was in that city he found out that the driver had made a business card and was now driving his taxi primarily on fixed rides!

The lesson here is that a poker player is a businessperson!  You need to look at your bankroll as an investment in your “business”.  You need to see every decision you make a kind of business decision.  Just as a businessperson decides how, when, and where to advertise, and how much to spend on advertising, a poker player needs to make the same decision.  The only difference is that the advertisement a poker player has to consider is generally called a “bet”!

The Importance of Competition

In this context, betting for value is a business decision.  Just as a businessperson might alter his or her general business practices in the face of new or old competition, so a poker player may alter the way they play a hand based on new or old competition.

A value bet can be seen as decision that was motivated by business concerns and the competition presented by an opponent.  We bet for value to raise the value of our business or we bet for value to get the opponent to think that if he matches our bet it might lower the value of his or her business.

The first type of bet is called simply a standard value bet in which the opponent will believe that calling or raising is in the best interest of his or her business, while the second type of value bet is generally referred to as a bluff!

Consider the Overall Financial Condition of Your Opponents

We often suggest that new poker players play in low stakes games as a way of getting inexpensive experience.  New players need all the cheap experience they can get in order to develop quick expertise in all areas of poker analysis and betting.

So, if you are playing in low stakes games, you will find that everyone is value betting since everyone can afford to make small bets!  In that sense, value betting and bluffing don’t work well in low stakes games.  Nevertheless, you have to try to fathom the thinking behind every player’s actions.

When you can do that, value betting will become a……valuable part of your strategic poker arsenal.

What Can I Take away from this Discussion?

The basic bottom line in value betting is that it should really be called smart betting.  Whether you are betting to get a player to stay in a losing pot or whether you are trying to bluff yourself into winning a losing pot, you are value betting.

Instead of letting the term confuse you, it is better to simply see it as wise betting.  This gets us to the far more difficult task of finding the right amount to bet to get the result you want.  There is a correct” amount to bet if you want an opponent to call or raise your hand and there is a “correct” amount to bet in order to get a player to fold a winning hand.

The Subjective Side of Poker

Some players seem to have an innate knack for getting players to stay in losing pots and also to get opponents to fold winning hands.  The reason we say that it seems to be an innate knack is because this is the most subjective side of poker.  Here is where studying your opponents comes into play.  Here is where getting inexpensive experience playing in low stakes games come into play.

We need to develop the skill to read our opponents and for that goal, there are no charts! 

Here are a few things you need to consider when you choose to make a value bet:

  1. Does my opponent bluff too much?
  2. Does he or she fold too much?
  3. Can she afford to stay in the hand at the level I want to bet?
  4. How does he play this type of hand in his position?
  5. How does my opponent generally bet on the Turn or on the River?
  6. Does my opponent have the skill to bluff without revealing his intentions?

As you can see, only sharp observation of your opponents can give you the right insight into how to proceed in the hand.  You should also expect to be wrong a sizable percentage of the time!  No one, not even the best poker pros, can be right even 70% of the time.

That’s why a very famous pro has been known to go off on an amateur who bet wrong but won the hand!

Finally, it points to the simple fact that high level poker is more about knowing how to analyze opponents rather than knowing the so-called science if poker.


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