July 22, 2023 Poker Strategy, Featured Articles, Poker News Lars Liedtke

Value Betting Guide – How to value bet thin in poker?

In our latest poker strategy article poker coach John “WhatA298” Bradley introduces a value betting guide and explains how to value bet thin in poker.

In poker, one of the primary ways to increase your winrate, is by extracting more value from your stronger hands.

Making the most of your strong, but not nutted, hands is invaluable, and in this article, you will discover when to bet these hands, and what sizings to use when you do bet.

How to thin value bet in poker?

When you have two pair or better, it is usually an easy value bet. However, your decision becomes a lot more difficult, when you are holding a 2nd pair or 3rd pair type of hand.

What factors sway your decision towards a bet?

  • Size of the pot: The more money that has gone into the pot thus far, the stronger your hand must be to be worthy of a value bet
  • Board Texture: The threshold for value betting is increased on a 4-straight or 4-flush board, for example
  • Position: When out of position, you should value bet a little thinner; due to the benefit of stopping your opponent from bluffing
  • Opponent Type: You should value bet thinner versus fish, calling stations and players who are generally quite passive. The less your opponent raises your bets, the wider you can value bet

Value Betting Guide – How to value bet thin in poker1

In the hand above, I called a raise preflop, and check-called a 33% bet on the flop. The turn went check-check and I was deciding whether to bet on the river.

The pot was not very large, ranges were still very wide and the opponent had not shown a great deal of strength thus far.

The turn and river did not complete many hands, and I was out of position.

Additionally, my population analysis has taught me, that most players are very passive, and tend to raise versus small bets less than they should do in theory.

For all these reasons, this hand is good enough for a thin value bet, so long as the size is between 15-50% of the pot or so.

The opponent’s range here:

  • Should rarely be Jx or better, as this would have usually bet the turn
  • Should rarely have been helped by the 9; it completes no draws and not all 9x are played from the button
  • Should contain a lot of Ax and some 2x; hands which would bet the flop small for value/protection and are now looking to showdown

The small bet helps you here for a number of reasons:

  • Extra value from Ax/2x/33/54 type hands which would check back if you check
  • Potentially blocks hands which may have bluffed large and forced you to fold
  • Can cause you to lose less versus slightly better hands such as A9. By betting, you determine how much money you put in the pot with this hand strength

What value bet sizing to use?

On the river, you can not go too far wrong, by simply betting a size which you feel your hand is worth.

You should be very greedy and try to eek out value in all available situations.

Value Betting Guide – How to value bet thin in poker2

In the limped, heads-up pot above, the flop went check-check, and I bet the turn for half pot.

There are many worse hands than J7 in the opponent’s range here, but facing a 75% size bet, many of these are going to fold on the river.

If you make it 25% or so, however, many of those hands will be priced in, and opponents become very curious in spots such as this.

Any pair will usually call, along with many K-highs, and I have even seen hands such as J9 call, simply to see what you have.

Value Betting Threshold

If your hand beats 50% of the hands your opponent calls with, then it is a good value bet.

The smaller the size of your bet, the more weaker hands call, and the higher the likelihood that your hand beats 50% of your opponent’s calling range.

This means that, by sizing up and down, you can manipulate the likelihood that your hand beats over 50% of your opponent’s calling range.

It is also worth noting that, when out of position, you actually require less than 50% equity against your opponent’s calling range, due to the added benefit of getting some potential bluffs in your opponent’s range to fold.

Value Betting Conclusion

It is important, in poker, to be focused, and to try to miss as few profitable value bets as possible.

Value bet thinner, when the pot is smaller, the board is drier, when you are out of position and when you are facing a more recreational or passive player.

Choose your size, based on the strength of your hand, making sure to manipulate your opponent’s calling range into having less than 50% equity versus your holding.

Value betting well, is integral to a winning strategy, and with these tips, you should be well on your way to crushing your opposition.

Good luck on your poker journey and if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask them in the poker coaching section of the VIP-Grinders Discord Channel.