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Bet Sizing Tells

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Ed Miller's October 2014 video for Red Chip Poker

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Bet Sizing Tells

  1. 1. BET SIZING TELLS By Ed Mi l ler GET THE VIDEO AT
  2. 2. WHAT ARE BET-SIZING TELLS?  Bet-sizing tel ls are one of the most impor tant tools I use in l ive no- l imit games.  I found out fairly recently by watching students play that many d o n ’ t n ot i c e o r u s e t h em we l l .  Learning to use bet -sizing tel ls correctly by itself can probably help you move up a level. (They are very useful. )
  3. 3. WHAT’S THE IDEA?  In no- l imit h ol d ’ em, players choose their own bet sizes. Most people choose their sizes either by rote, on a whim, or for a reason that can be deduced by logic.  When players use logic that causes them to use two or more di f ferent bet sizes in a given situation, they are giving away tons of information.  I t is extremely hard to balance ranges using multiple bet sizes. In real l ive games, practically speaking, al l such scenarios are exploitable.
  4. 4. MULTIPLE BET SIZES ARE EXPLOITABLE  S ay i ng i t a g a i n, b e c a use i t ’ s wo r t h t h i nk ing a b o u t . I f yo u r opponent uses multiple bet sizes in a given situation, he is exploitable.  In practice, players are not merely exploitable, but extremely so. These players would be much harder to play against i f they chose a single bet size for each situation.
  5. 5. WHAT BET-SIZING TELLS AREN’T  Bet- s i zing te l ls are n’ t wh e n a p l ayer h as ad j us ted a b et s i z e for the action. For instance, i f he raises to $25 af ter one l imper, but $40 af ter three.  Bet- s i zing te l ls a re n’ t j u s t a c omp a riso n o f b et s i z e to p ot s i z e . “Oh t h a t ’ s l e s s t h a n h a l f p ot . We a k!”  Bet- s i zing te l ls a re n’ t 10 0% re l i abl e.
  6. 6. HOW TO SPOT POSSIBLE TELLS  Think of situations where a player wi l l try to accompl ish di f ferent goals with di f ferent hand types.  Fo r example , t h ey mi g h t wa n t to “ p rote c t” c e r t a in h a n d s , b u t “ g e t ma x va l u e ” fo r ot h e r s .  Or, t h ey mi g h t wa nt to “ s e e wh e re t h ey ’ r e a t ” wi t h c e r t a i n hands, but proceed with confidence with others.
  7. 7. CLASSIC TELL #1  You raise preflop and someone cal ls out of the bl inds. The flop comes, and the bl ind player bets roughly hal f pot or less.  Wh a t’ s g o i n g o n ? I n t h i s s i t u at io n , t h e b l i n d p l aye r wo u l d assume that i f he checks, you wi l l l ikely bet. And i f you bet, it wi l l probably be more than hal f pot.  With a truly strong hand, he would either want to check to let you bet—o r i f h e ’ s wo rri ed yo u ’ l l c h e c k b a c k h e wo u l d ma ke a normal -to- large bet.  He ’ s t r y i n g to “ f r e e ze ” t h e a c t i o n fo r c h e a p.
  8. 8. CLASSIC TELL #1 (CONT.)  Typically you wi l l see top pair, no kicker or a unimproved pocket pair or perhaps middle pair or a draw af ter this bet.  Most impor tantly, there wi l l be few nutted hands in the range. And the smal l bet usually indicates some wi l l ingness to fold.  This imbalance continues throughout the hand, since you c a n ’ t a d d b a c k t h e nutted hands.
  9. 9. CLASSIC TELL #1 EXAMPLES  You open for $20 from MP and the BB cal ls. Flop comes and BB bets out $10-$25.  Flop comes AsQd4s. The bet wi l l usually be Ax, mid pair l ike 99, or possibly Qx, 4x, or maybe a gutshot .  Very unl ikely to be 44 or AQ (or AA or QQ) . Also unl ikely to be A4 or Q4 because most people would check or bet bigger to “ p rote c t ” o r “ g e t va l ue ”
  10. 10. CLASSIC TELL #1 MORE EXAMPLES  Flop comes 7d5c2s.  Yo u ’ r e g o i n g to s e e a l ot o f 7 x a n d 6 6 a n d 4 4 . A l s o p o s s i ble are AJ, 5x, 2x, and some gutshots.  T h i s i s a p u r e “ s e e wh e re yo u ’ r e a t ” b e t mo s t o f t h e t ime . T h e b l i nd c a u gh t a p i e c e a nd i s t r y i ng to s e e i f h e ’ s g o o d c h e a ply, b e c a use h e ’ s wo r r i e d a b o u t wi n n i n g a l i t t le o r l o s i n g a l ot .
  11. 11. CLASSIC TELL #1 FINAL THOUGHTS  In each case, a closer to pot -sized donk bet would make me more worried about nutted hands. In par ticular, a pot-sized donk bet on 742 could easi ly be two pair -plus.  I t ’ s h a r d to b a l an c e a donk- b e tt in g s t r a te g y. I t ’ s v i r t u a lly impossible to balance a donk-betting strategy when you are using two or more bet sizes.
  12. 12. CLASSIC TELL #2  In a multiway pot, on the turn, with draws on board, a smal l out of turn bet.  T h i s o n e i s mo r e s p e c ific , b u t i t c ome s u p , a n d i t ’ s q u i te rel iable.  Why is this player betting out of turn? And why is the bet smal l? I t almost never adds up to a strong hand.  Can be a draw, top pair with a weak kicker, or another hand t h a t wa n t s to “ f r e e ze ” a c t i o n .
  13. 13. CLASSIC TELL #2 EXAMPLE  A player l imps, and you make it $25. A player cal ls on the b u t to n , b ot h b l i n d s c a l l , a n d t h e l imp e r c a l l s. T h e r e ’ s $ 1 2 5 i n the pot and 5 players.  Flop is QdJd6h. Checked to you, you bet $80, and the BB and l imp e r c a l l . T h e re ’ s $ 3 6 5 i n t h e p ot a n d 3 p l aye r s.  Turn 9c. The BB checks, and the l imper bets $80.
  14. 14. CLASSIC TELL #2 EXAMPLE (CONT.)  Board is QdJd6h9c and the l imper has just bet $80 into $365 out of turn.  This is a cheap ploy to freeze action, which al l but rules out straights, sets, and strong two-pair hands.  It could be that he has a queen and wants to avoid giving a free card without real ly committing to the pot (with a big bet) .  I t could be that he has a draw of some sor t and wants to set his price at $80.
  15. 15. REVERSE TELL?  You might wonder how of ten players reverse these bet -sizing tel ls. Not of ten, for a simple reason—they usually work.  Players use these bets to freeze action because the ploy of ten works.  Since a player rarely wants to freeze the action with a strong h a n d , i t ’ s g e n e r ally j u s t a b a d i d e a to r eve r s e t h e te l l.  Better is just to avoid the tel l-sized bet completely.
  16. 16. ANOTHER TELL I DO REVERSE  Mentioned in a previous video.  In a multiway pot, an extra- large bet into a multiway pot.  This usual ly represents an attempt to protect a fairly strong hand.  I reverse this tel l by betting extra- large into these pots with c-bets and semi -bluf fs.
  17. 17. EXAMPLE OF THE REVERSIBLE TELL  A tight reg opens for $20 and gets two cal ls on the button and one in the big bl ind.  The flop is QhTh6s. The bl ind checks, and the reg bets $100 into the $82 pot.  This wi l l mostly be AQ, KK, or AA.  With stronger hands, they tend to bet a l ittle less—maybe $60—to encourage action.  With weaker hands, they tend to be much less—maybe $40 or $50—to protect themselves against getting owned.
  18. 18. SPOTTING TELLS IN THE WILD  Yo u r o p p o ne nt s’ b et s i z i ng i s a h u g e s o u rc e o f i nfo rma t io n. They get to choose any size they want, which gives them just enough rope to hang themselves with.  E ve r y t ime yo u r o p p o n e n t b e t s , t h i n k a b o u t b e t s i z e . T h i n k , “ I s there any type of hand this player would bet a di f ferent size wi t h ?”  Very frequently, the answer is yes—between draws and marginal made hands and monster hands, most players wi l l choose di f ferent sizes with some hands.
  19. 19. SPOTTING TELLS IN THE WILD (CONT.)  This information is nearly always useful. Even if you can e l imin ate j u s t a s i n g l e c l a s s o f h a n d s f rom yo u r o p p o n e n t ’ s r a n g e , t h a t ’ s o f te n e n o u g h to t i p yo u r s t r a te g y o n e way o r t h e other.
  20. 20. A NOTE OF WARNING  I k now a l ot o f p e o p le s ay, “Do n’ t wo r r y a b o u t yo u r b et s i z e s. Choose the ones that suit you best, because your opponents a r e n ’ t p ay i n g a t te n t io n . ” I ’ ve s a i d i t .  Be very careful with this advice. My view now is that experienced l ive regs—at l e a s t t h e o ne s wh o a re n’ t d e g enera te and hal f-braindead—use bet -sizing tel ls. They identify them, and they act upon them.  In fact, many l ive regs play such a bad fundamental game that only their abi lity to pick up on these tel ls (and other l ive reads) keeps them in action.  Be careful who you expose your tel ls to.
  21. 21. PRACTICE TELLS  Whi le you play, chal lenge yourself to decode opponent bet sizes, and hold yourself accountable.  I n h a n d s yo u ’ r e i n , o r n ot i n , wr i te d own t h e a c t i o n fo r a ny pots with unusual bet sizes. Then try to guess what the bet sizes mean.  I f t h e r e ’ s a s h owdown , c h e c k yo u r wo rk a g a i n st wh a t yo u s aw.  Learn from it.

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