Value betting is important for any player who wants to maximize their profits. Even if you are not quite at the level where you are generating profits, value betting can really help to cut your losses. The idea behind value betting is simple, bet an amount that is near or at the max that your opponent will call. The “opponent will call” bit is especially important. Value bets are never used in a bluffing situation or when you are playing with a hand that is quite possibly beaten. Generally speaking value bets should be made when you have a very dominant hand that needs to get paid off. Value betting is truly an art, it requires a lot of practice to get it right, but hopefully this article can get you off to a solid start.
It is very important to consider exactly how your opponent plays before you make a value bet, or any bet for that reason. The size of your value bets will vary greatly depending on how the other player likes to play. If they are a calling station it only makes sense to bet larger than you would against a tight player. Even tight players, however, can be exploited for a ton of value if they have a hand that they are not willing to fold (that is discussed in the next segment).
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If you are at a loose table you will be able to squeeze out some added value pre flop by making your raises a little bit larger than usual. Say that you would normally open UTG with AQ to 4x BB. Since your opponents are on the looser side you will be able to jack that number up to 5 or 6 BBs. Loose players usually want to come along no matter the cost, why let them get away with a 4 BB call? The same applies to all later streets in the hand. Once you have them on the hook you should be forcing the issue on each street. If you would normally bet 3/4 of the pot, make it 4/5 against the loose player.
If you are at a tight table you should stick to your default strategy. There is no sense in lowering your bet sizes as it will defeat the purpose of having bet sizes at all. You have to set a floor for your raises, if the player is tight so be it. You can’t cater to the tight players by letting them play at a discounted rate.
Reading into the action
Tight players and loose players alike can donate their entire stack to you, given the right circumstances. Loose players are much more prone to calling off with weak hands (and moderately strong hands) than tight players, but when tight players get a strong hand they often have a tough time letting it go.
If you are at a loose table it is vital that you make your flop, turn, and river bets larger than usual just as you do with your pre flop raises. They hate folding pre flop, but they absolutely despise folding once they connect with the board in even the smallest of ways. If you can get a flop call from a loose player there is a great chance that you will get easy turn and river calls as well.
Tight players are indeed selective when it comes to hand selection, but when they decide to play a hand they will often have a tough time letting it go. If a tight player gets pocket queens pre flop, they tend to want to see the hand through to the river. The flop might bring a king but they will convince themselves that their queens can’t possibly be beat. Tight players will pay you off when you flop two pair or a set. If a player is tight it is usually an indicator that they are not too good, take advantage of this by making them put their entire stack in the middle when you flop a set of 8s and they have kings on a queen high board. A pre flop call is often a commitment to a tight player’s hand; string them along until their money is gone.