Adjusting the pot size to the strength of your hand

“Sometimes, we just feel this irresistible urge to play a big pot. Unless we are drunk or tilted, this urge is usually when we flop a great hand. On other occasions, we like to play medium-sized pots, and this is
usually when we have a good but not great hand. Sometimes, we want to
play a small pot and get to showdown cheap, this is when we have a
mediocre but probably-best holding.

This is why it is so
important to try to adjust the pot size to match the strength of your
hand. Let us assume that we raised 99 from late position and got called
by both blinds. The flop is a dream for us – J93. This is one of those
situations where our highest wish is to just get the money in the
middle – and this is why it is so important to start building the pot
right away!

If the blinds check to us, we should bet – about 2/3
to 3/4 of the pot is a good bet. Sometimes our opponents will have
missed the flop completely and fold, but if they have hit a piece of it
they will call – or even raise! – And the pot gets nicely bloated
already on the flop, increasing our chances of stacking the opponent.
By betting, we give ourselves the chance to win a huge pot whereas if
we check behind, we will have trouble winning a big pot.

Building pots on early streets with good holdings is an essential part of good play.

what about the medium-sized pots? Well, let’s say that we raised AQ
preflop and again the blinds called. The flop comes QT3. If both check
to us, we should bet for value, but at the same time a certain measure
of care is necessary. If we don’t have a good read, we probably do not
want to play for stacks – the opponent could have two pair or a set. We
are betting to extract money from a straight draw or a top pair with a
worse kicker.

The standard turn play is to check behind if the
opponent checks, with the intention of calling most rivers if bet into
and value-betting most rivers if checked to.

With mediocre
holdings, our wish is to keep the pot small. Let us assume that we, in
an online poker game, limped A4 suited from late position after a few
limpers (to try to flop a straight, flush or good draw). The flop comes
AT8, giving us top pair with a lousy kicker.

In this case, it
is in our interests to keep the pot small. If checked to, we should
check and see a turn card (if we bet, we are likely only getting called
by hands that beat us). If another player bets, we can call on the flop
and re-evaluate on the turn (or just fold if it is a tight player doing
the betting). If there is a bet and a call in front of us, we just muck
this hand. We have no interest to play a medium-sized or big pot.

the pot size to the strength of your holding is an important part of
poker. Of course, sometimes it is necessary to mix up our play a bit to
not make us too predictable, but the above lines are long-term winning
standard plays.

Written by Andris Kangeris for