Friday, April 25, 2008

Preflop Bet Sizing

One of the biggest leaks I can spot in my opponents is the varying of preflop bet sizes. They have a big hand, they make a big preflop bet. They have a small hand, they make a small preflop bet.

Instead, make your preflop bet sizes consistent. In unopened pots, 3x BB is the standard (at .02/.05, .15 is my standard open). However, the question is raised, "What do you raise when there is a limper in front of you?"

Mike Maloney made a great point in a previous post comment that I am now implementing in this regards. Your opponent makes a mistake when he calls without correct pot odds. In this game, profitably is achieved when a) you make your opponents make more mistakes than you b) exploit the mistakes your opponent voluntarily makes.

So in the case of preflop bet raising with limpers in front, you should raise 3xBB + 1 BB for each limper. So if you are sitting on the button with JJ with the UTG+1 and the CO each limping, your raise should be 3xBB (.15) + .05 + .05 = .25. This raise gives your opponents improper pot odds to call with their weak hands (they would have raised instead of limped otherwise).

While this does increase your volatility somewhat as you will have some opponents that will call regardless because they want to "gamble," over the long term, this is highly profitable.

For example, I was down $7 at my table last night after making a decent sized mistake (I had JJ, raised preflop, got reraised by BB, and I flat called. Flop came Q high and I called him down despite knowing that he most likely held AK based on previous history. K comes on the river and I lose a good sized pot). After making that mistake, I had an excellent read on my table and I decided that I was going WTF PWNZ (sorry for the terribly immature L33T talk but it expresses my emotion very well at this time) my table. I immediately started opening my preflop range, all the way down to 34o. I could be pretty much be holding ATC and could outplay my opponents. I went from down $7 to up $12 in 45 minutes.

A big part of this was the exploitation of limpers. If they limped in front of me, I was going to raise them 3xBB + 1 BB for their limp. They didn't know what to do. The first few times, they called me. Flop would come, I had position and exploited them. They bet weakly, I raised it up. They bet strong, I folded away or called them down (depending on the player). And then they started to fold their limps. Worst part for them, they kept on LIMPING! I must have gained at least $3 or $4 just from their limp-folds.

There was a guy to my immediate left who wanted to tangle. And he paid for it. I flopped a straight with 5-3 and got him for a few bucks. Got him to fold 77 on a 10h-9h-10x-10x-Jh board when I only had AQo. He would call my increased raises consistently and then run scared as I would double-barrel or triple-barrel him often. He just didn't know how to handle my aggression.

I was the happiest person on the table when he doubled through another opponent up to $20. The bank was open and I was raiding the vault. Thanks to Mike for his follow-up explanation as it has paid immediate dividends in my game.

Only $90 to go before I move up levels once again. Shouldn't be too long as I'm crushing this limit for approx 28 bb/100.

See you at the virtual felt,

PokerStars: $212
FT: ?


  1. Yeah, raising limpers in position can be a very effective tactic, regardless of what cards you might be holding.

  2. Bankroll building is one of my favorite things. I enjoy reading. Sorry that I have not been commenting lately but I am still following your progress. Keep it up. Can't wait until your roll is way up.