Knowing When to Value-Bet When Playing Poker

Knowing When to Value-Bet When Playing Poker

Sure, you breath a sigh of relief that your hand held up but you should still be upset. Why? Well, because you did not maximize your win. You did not value-bet. So why don’t you do it more? Are you really that afraid of betting with the worst hand? Well, you are costing yourself a lot of money that should be in your bankroll.

Recently I was playing $2-$5 no-limit holdem at my local card room. A guy in middle position in front of me opened the pot for a raise. I had A 10 of spades. I figured I could just call and possibly maximize my potential if I hit my flush. Or I could re-raise in hopes of isolating what I perceived to be an overly aggressive player.

I decided to re-raise to $50 to play heads up in position. Well, I didn’t count on the big blind flat calling and we saw the flop 3 handed. Mind you, the big blind is a pretty solid player. He waits for a good hand, then always seemed to take it to the river, expecting that his starting requirements would make him a winner. All of that said, the caller could very well have a holding that dominated my rather marginal holding.

The rest of the field folded, the woman called, and we took the flop off threehanded. I thought the caller behind me had a good but not great hand, probably a pair from 6-6 through 10-10, and perhaps A-K,A-Q. I ruled out Aces, Kings or Queens. I figured I was in bad shape. But the flop changed all that. The flop came 10 4 2, giving me top pair, top kicker. While there still were holdings that the caller behind me might have that I couldn beat, the flop put me ahead of some that had me in trouble preflop, particularly A-K, A-Q, and, of course, 8-8 or 9-9. The woman checked, I fired $100 into the pot, looking to take it down but the big blind called. I wasn’t thrilled about that. The turn card was the 3 of spades, adding a flush draw to my holding. I fired $160 into the pot. Once again, my opponent flat-called. The river was a semi brick, an offsuit 2. I missed my flush, and now I had to figure out what to do. Could he be playing Jacks or Queens with such passivity? It was possible but very pessimistic from my standpoint to think such a thing. There was some small chance that he had a big hand, most likely a set, and was waiting until the river to raise as he has made this same play before. If I bet and he has a pair, he would call or raise and the raise would force me into a decision. If I did bet and it was small, he may put me to the test by pushing.

I thought his most likely holdings were 8-8, 9-9, J-J, or Q-Q or a weaker 10. I have everything except the overpairs beat. I just can’t give him that much credit. So I bet $200. He agonized for a while and called. He had J-10 suited and my kicker prevailed.

So I made another $200 that I would have left on the table if I was passive. So don’t be afraid to value-bet at the end. The times you are called and win will make up for it.

Until next time, may the chips fall your way.

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