How to utilize optimal bet-sizing in no-limit hold’em poker



By Natasha Barbour

With the World Series in full swing, a lot of you are going to be taking some shots at a bracelet while some of you will even take a shot at the main event in July.

What does it take to get through a few days or even a week in a tournament? One of the most important skills a player has to have is proper bet-sizing.

Optimal bet-sizing is a major skill a good tournament player possesses. It will confuse opponents and will make you extremely hard to read.

The most important thing to understand is you must base your bet on the board texture and not on your hand. Whether you’re bluffing, have the nuts or a drawing hand, your bet must remain the same to make you a tough opponent to read. Let’s look at the different types of boards:

SUPER WET BOARD: This is a board that has flush- and straight-draw possibilities. A good example would be {10-Hearts}{j-Hearts}{3-Spades}. As you can see a lot of hands have flopped a draw on this board. Also, a lot of hands that have top pair are going to be easily bluffable on later streets. The key is to make it expensive enough for a player on a draw and not give him the correct odds to call. Therefore, a full pot bet is adequate on this type of board.

SEMI-WET BOARD: This is a board with a flush-draw or a straight-draw possibility. A good example is K-6-7 rainbow. In this case, you want to bet two-thirds of the pot to charge the players that could be on a draw.

DRY BOARD: This board has no flush- or straight-draw possibilities, such as K-8-2. On this type of board, you’re usually way ahead or way behind. You don’t want to force a laydown by worse hand and if they have a better hand you want to get away for cheap, so only bet 50 percent of the pot.

Again, do not pick your bet-sizing based on the type of hand you have but based on the texture of the board.

— Natasha Barbour is professional poker player. Email her at and follow her on Twitter @natashabarbour.

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