Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Poker: Bet Sizing

Following the last introductory post to poker, here is an example on how to determine bet sizing based on the texture of the flop.

Let's say effective stack size is 200 BB, we are in button/cutoff, it was limp/folded to us, and we raised to 4-6 BB and one player called. So the pot is ~10 BB (8.5-13.5 BB depending on dead money/size of raise) and effective stack size is 195 BB.

Let's say the flop comes with two flush cards (two cards of same suit) and you have top pair top kicker and you are committed to calling the all-in even if the another flush card comes because you have a weird hunch/you are tilting etc. Let's look at what you need to bet taking into account the implied pot to push a flush draw opponent out of the pot.

The flush draw opponent has 36% equity -> you want to lay 1.8:1 odds for optimal play -> with an implied pot of 10 BB + 195BB, that is a bet of 205/1.8 = 114 BB. This sounds ridiculously huge and incorrect. There are two reasons for this. 

  1. Being willing to commit 200 BB on a flush board with top pair is an incorrect play. 
  2. The existence of a turn bet means that the true "correct bet" amt is much lower. 
We will look at these two lines of thought below and examine what the "correct bet" should be if we take such factors into account..

How much you would typically/normally commit with top pair top kicker
Generally, with top pair or worse, you want to control the pot to be medium sized. Let's look at what that means for the flop/turn/river betting rounds:

  1. if betting sizes were pot sized, I would say two bets would already be really pushing it. (ie. you would control the size by either bet/check/bet or bet/bet/check etc). In this case the pot would be 90 BB by showdown and you and your opponent would have each put in another 40 BB.
  2. if betting sizes were 1/2 pot, it is probably feasible to bet on all three rounds. In this case the pot would just be 80 BB (35BB each since flop). But betting like this might be stupid with the flush draw on the board.

From these rough estimates, it seems that we should be willing to commit another 35-40 BB to this 10 BB pot. Let's say that the implied pot size is 10 + 35 BB. Then the optimal bet is 25BB, or 2.5x the pre-money pot. This certainly seems more reasonable but from what we know empirically about poker betting, it still seems to be on the high end. Let's move on to consider the fact that there can still be betting on the turn/river.

Betting on the turn

From the conclusion of last post, remember that by betting optimally against a dog, each time you bet, you are effectively causing them to loose money equivalent to them folding to the bet in the long run. I would thus make the following statement:

By betting optimally on the turn, it is as though we have cut off the opponent's chances to draw on the river. ie. it is as though the opponent loses the pot right here on the turn.

Now, we can see that perhaps our opponent doesn't have 36% equity, since after they see one card on the turn, we can bet again, which is equivalent to cutting them out right there. So they have 9 outs out of 47 possible turn cards. So we could lay 38:9 ~= 4.2:1 odds to price them out. With a 45BB implied pot, this means betting 10.7 BB ~= 1.1x the pre-money pot. This is more inline with what we know as "normal" betting. 

What is interesting is that if you follow this line of reasoning/betting on the flop, you are committed to betting the turn 100% of the time if no flush cards come out- otherwise you are actually giving your opponent 36% equity and good odds to call on the flop.

So it turns out that maybe our flop bet sizing could vary depending on our game plan on the turn.

As a matter of exercise, let's look at what our proper bet on the turn is. Let's say we just bet another 1x pot on the flop- so the turn pot is 30BB (and we are ready to commit another 25-30BB). What is the optimal bet on the turn if no flush cards come? They have 9 outs out of 46 river cards, so we lay 37:9 ~= 4.1:1 odds. With an implied pot of 60BB, this means that betting 15xBB = 1/2 the pre-money pot.

So either you bet [1.1x pot on flop AND 0.5x pot on turn], or maybe you need to overbet on the flop by betting (at most?) 2.5x pot if you intend to (sometimes? check the turn.

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