The Value Bet for Poker Beginners

Phil Hellmuth
When playing against amateurs Phil Hellmuth is an impeccable value bettor.

Making the right value bets is the difference between making a little bit of money at poker and making a lot of money at poker.

A value bet is exactly what the name implies: a bet designed to increase the value of a pot. 

To wield this type of bet effectively you need to consider the following information about your opponent:

The strength of their hand. Obviously, the stronger a hand they have, the greater the chance they will feel that their hand is good; thus, they'll be willing to call for more money.

Their view of your hand. If the other player thinks you have the nuts, they aren't going to be willing to put almost any money into the pot.

But even if the other player is almost sure you have the nuts, you can still make a bet small enough to give the player the proper odds to make the call. A mathematical player will call this bet.

Their ability to fold. Some players are just not willing to fold a big hand (this reluctance is commonly referred to as getting married to the hand).

A player with this complex will call a very large value bet with a big pocket pair, even when it should be obvious that you have him beat.

On the other end of the scale, when your opponent is playing scared he will have to be persuaded to put any money into the pot at all.

Steve Sung
Some players, such as Steve Sung, don't have a call-amount threshold.

Their call amount threshold. Most poker players have a natural limit to how many chips they will call in one bet. Some players put an absolute number to that limit, others a percentage of their stack.

As a general rule assume that the threshold is half the player's stack.

How Do I Make a Value Bet?

On the surface, value betting seems simple. If you have a pretty good idea of the above factors, you'll know to value bet large or value bet small.

That much is easy; the difficult part is getting amounts as close to perfect as you can.

If your value betting amount is low, that will equate to hundreds or thousands of dollars in a month, depending how often you play at what limits.

But if you're over, that will result in a significant loss every session.

Value Bet Example:

Say the maximum value bet a player will call is $50.

If you get $40, you've lost $10 (20% of the bet).

But if you bet $60, the player will fold, losing you $50.

Money not made is money lost. A botched value bet will cost you money. Even though you won the pot, you should note it as a mistake and work at correcting it.

I'll repeat myself, because this is so crucial: properly value betting is the difference between making a little bit of money at poker and making a lot of money.

It is one of the most important aspects of poker for any player to master. Now that you're clear on the concept, check out this more detailed article on the river value bet.

More strategy articles from Sean Lind:

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