Texas Hold'em No Limit Intermediate

Value Betting in Poker - How to Value Bet for Max Profit

7,304 Views 2 Comments on 14/6/12

Value Betting - What does it mean and when should I value bet?

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What is Value Betting Poker?

Learn how to value bet for max profit, take advantage of value betting in poker
  • The goal of a “value-bet” is to get your opponent to call with a worse hand. If you have a strong made hand you should probably be betting for value nearly always. It's true sometimes you can think about slow-playing your strong hands, but most of the time, the best option will be to bet. By not betting you risk “losing value” (losing out on money).
  • Not “value-betting” at the right time can be just as bad as making a horrible call, when you know you are beat. Both will have the same effect on your win-rate. Weaker players often play strong made hands very passively. While it's true they may still “win” the pot this way, they are actually losing a lot of money in the long-run by not going for more value.

When should you Value Bet? 

In order to answer this question we will need to understand the concept of ranges. If you are unsure of what ranges are, or how they operate, go and read that article first.

To be very specific (and don't worry if you don't understand this just yet) -

In order for a value bet to be profitable, your opponent’s calling range must consist of worse hands 50% of the time or more.

It's actually very simple - In order to win money from the bet 

When should you Value-Bet? In practice.

If we have a strong value hand we should immediately be betting for value. It doesn't matter if we only have the 3rd nuts, and our opponent could have the nuts. Sopokerimage long as our opponent is going to call with a wide range of worse hands we can just chalk it up to bad luck when our opponent flips over a better hand. Don't make the mistake of checking back just because there is a possibility you are beaten.

With medium strength hands it becomes a little more tricky – this is where skill comes into the game. One of two things will be true in this instance -

  • Your opponent’s calling range doesn't have enough worse hands compared to better hands. Value-betting won't be profitable, you should fold.
  •  It's close, but you still think your opponent’s calling range contains slightly more worse hands than better hands. Value-betting in this spot is referred to as making a “thin value-bet”. Making thin value-bets like this is one thing that separates the good players from the really-good ones. You will only able to find these “thin-value” spots if you have done a good job of putting your opponent on a range.

Value Betting Example

CO ($10)

MP ($10)

UTG ($10)

Hero ($10)

SB ($10)

BU ($10)

Pre-flop: Hero is BB with ak

3 folds, BU calls $0.10, SB calls $0.5, Hero raises to $0.50, BU calls $0.40, SB folds.

Flop: ($1.10) k98

Hero bets $0.80, BU calls $0.80.

Turn: ($2.70) 8

Hero bets $1.95, BU calls $1.95

River: ($6.60) 4

Hero bets $4.40, BU calls $4.40

This is a good example of value-betting on all three streets – even though we could be behind by the river.

Pre-flop

We have a strong starting hand, and we want to raise. There is a good chance one of our two opponents will continue with a wide variety of worse hands. We raise for value pre-flop.

Flop

We flop top pair top kicker; our first instinct should be to go immediately for value. Slowplaying here would be a big mistake. There are many worse hands and draws that our opponent can call a bet with. Any straight draw, any flush draw, and any worse king. We bet for value.

Turn

The turn comes an 8. It's certainly true our opponent could have an 8 if he called preflop with something like As8s and didn't want to fold on the flop. It's pretty unlikely though. Ironically, the very fact that an 8 has hit on the turn means our opponent is less likely to be holding an 8, because there are now only 2 left in the deck. Our opponent still has all the draws and worse kings in his range; we fire again for value.

River

The river comes 4, completing a possible flush draw. In some instances this might be a good spot to check-call if you think your opponent will bluff with things like Ah5h, or TdJd. Let'spokerimage assume this opponent never bluffs; what is the best play, check or bet? A lot of players might get scared here - after all your opponent may hold something like TcJc for the flush or 99 for a slow-played full house. It’s unlikely however. Your opponent would probably have raised any strong made hands (2pair or better) on the flop or turn, and back-door draws only hit a very small percentage of the time. On the other hand your opponent can still call with any worse king, KQ, KJ, KT, Ks6s, Ks5s – perhaps even any pair depending on how bad he is QQ, JJ, 9x etc. So long as you think there are more worse hands calling a bet than better ones (I.e more than 50%), this is a good spot to go for some thin value.

If the river had come the q this would be a very different story. Because unlike the 4, the q hits a huge amount of our opponent’s range, likely giving him the best hand.

Final Word

Value betting is clearly a very important concept and one which you should work hard to perfect. Always remember that poker is a game which should be dependent upon your opponent, so next time you bet first ask yourself 'Why am I betting right now?'
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w34z3l

I am of British nationality and go by the online alias w34z3l. I am considered one of the top consultants in the field for technical analysis (i.e. database work) and application of game theory concepts to various card games. I make a range of educational content ( ... Read More

Comments

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Fat-Sunny

Fat-Sunnyon 3/12/13

Good article any more on this subject?

Jon-PokerVIP

Jon-PokerVIPon 3/12/13

Nothing worse than being value owned but nothing better than value owning someone! Made any thin value bets recently?

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