Value Bets in Poker

When you first start playing poker, betting for value is the last thing on your mind. All you care about is sitting down at the table (or at your computer) and piling up the chips. But before you do, it’s important to learn about value betting in poker.

value bettingThere is no clear definition of what value betting in poker is, but it can be described as betting on a marginally winning hand that has a chance of winning a large pot.  In other words, you do not have a high degree of certainty that you’re going to win the hand, but because the pot size is large compared to the bet you have to make, and because there is a good probability that you do have the leading hand, it’s worth taking the risk.

Poker value bets are what separate good players from great players.  Even a novice knows when they have a clear cut winning hand, but the strategy with value betting in poker is to win as many chips from your opponents as possible, even in a marginal situation. Knowing when to place poker value bets is as much an art as a skill.

In limit games, you need to be aggressive, as the bets are small compared to the pot and you are likely to have your poker value bets called even with a very weak hand.  In no-limit games, it’s much harder.  You also have to take into account your place in the game, the percentage you think you have of winning the hand if you get called, and you have to be able to read your opponent properly.

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In these situations, value betting in poker is intuitive and gained from your experience as your personal feel for the game increases.  This is where the art comes in, but it is also based on your skill and powers of observation. In reality, no-one can really define what value betting in poker really is, it is often just a learned “feeling.”

The times when you should value bet most often occur when you are dominating the table and have been winning consistently.  Your opposition will be tentative about going up against your marginal bets if they have been losing to you on a consistent basis.

The opposite is also true if you have been on a losing streak. You will not hold the psychological advantage, and a value bet in poker is likely to fail. In this situation it is often better to check the marginal hands than it is to place a bet.

This leads into recognizing when the opposition is using poker value bets against you. Look for over-confidence in an opponent on a winning streak, especially when you see that they are winning hands on value bets in situations that they may have been behind in the hand at the time of the bet.  Value bets in poker can make you a lot of profit, but at the same time if you find yourself subject to such a ploy, and can cost you just as quickly.