In online poker, value betting is an invaluable technique to learn. A successful value bet encourages your opponent to call, increasing the value of a pot you’re about to win. Use this strategy whenever you expect to have more equity than your opponent. This is how you’ll make most of your money at the tables.
While some examples of value bets are clear-cut, other hands may be marginal. In cases where the expected win rate is slightly more than 50% (odds of just over +100,) there’s value, but not much. This is usually referred to as “thin” value.
Learn more about thin value betting and how to play poker online using this strategy.
How Does Thin-Value Betting Work?
Value betting is all about maximizing the pot when you have a strong hand. To extract more money from your hand, you need to entice your opponent into calling your bet.
In a way, value betting can be seen as the opposite of bluffing in Texas Hold’em games. For most value bets, you already know you have a stronger hand and want your opponent to call rather than fold.
Value Betting Example
In an online poker tournament, it always makes sense to raise when you have a powerful hand. For example, you have pocket kings, and the board brings the king of spades, ace of hearts, 6 of hearts, 3 of spades, and 5 of diamonds.
In this example, it makes sense to keep betting and raising. You’ve flopped a set, and there’s a lot of value available, especially from anyone with a big ace. In addition, other players are likely to call with draws, so make the most of the opportunity.
Thin-Value Betting Example
Sometimes, your hand is decent but not obviously the best. Still, whenever you’re expected to win more than 50% of the time, you should look to make a thin-value bet. This can be complicated, as you need to work out your opponent’s range.
Perhaps you hold queen-jack, and you’re in a heads-up poker game. You raised preflop and found a call. After betting the flop, your opponent raises. Both players check the turn. The board now reads jack of hearts, 7 of clubs, 4 of diamonds, ace of diamonds, and 2 of clubs.
Consider where your opponent raised and use this to work out their range. They likely don’t have an ace as they failed to raise preflop. The story they’re telling suggests hands with a jack or possibly semi-bluffs with diamond or straight draws.
Once you’ve deduced their range, look at the possible hands you can beat and the hands that beat you.
- In this example, your hand beats jack-10, jack-9, jack-8, 8-8, 9-9 and 10-10.
- However, you’d lose to queen-queen, king-king or jack-king.
In this situation, there are six losing hands compared to three winners, so it makes sense to value bet. You should have the better hand around 70% of the time here, leaving you with odds of -233. While it’s not a huge edge, it’s still profitable to raise.
How Much To Thin-Value Bet
There’s no real rule on how much you should wager when thin-value betting. It’s entirely situational, based on the size of the pot, stack sizes, opponent’s tendencies, and your expected win rate.
The main thing to remember is that this bet should maximize value from the hand and increase the pot. You don’t want to bet too high and cause weaker opponents to fold. But you have to bet something in order to get more value.
A good starting point is to generally bet between two-thirds and three-quarters of the pot. However, you’ll need to vary this depending on the specific situation.
Thin-Value Golden Rules
While the exact sizing of thin value bets is up for debate, there are two rules you must follow when using this strategy. Once you’ve worked out your opponent’s range, put these rules into action:
- If there are more hands in your opponent’s range that lose to your hand, you should bet.
- If your opponent has more hands in their range that beat your hand, you should check.
Thin-Value Betting Strategy Tips
Unlike other online casino games, poker has many complicated strategies to learn. With thin-value betting, you need to work out opponent ranges, which can be difficult. Use these tips to improve your results and make bets that are more effective.
Value Bet More Against Players Who Call Often
Some players like to call bets and raises regardless of the strength of their hand. Known as “calling stations,” these opponents are most commonly found in low-stakes online poker tournaments and cash games. Their behavior often throws off your range calculations and also makes it harder to bluff.
They can be annoying to play against, but the solution is to focus on value betting, even if that value appears extremely thin. It’s also worthwhile to raise these types of players more often when you have marginal hands since they’re likely to call.
Use Thin-Value Betting When Draws Miss
When you miss a draw but still have a decent amount of equity, you have a lot more freedom to try and extract thin value. If your opponents know that the obvious draws have been missed, they’ll feel more comfortable calling with much wider ranges.
Should the board run out in such a way that many draws miss, your chances of successfully bluffing are obviously reduced. However, it’s important that you still bluff occasionally, as this helps your table image and balances out your own ranges.
Value Bet Thin When Your Range Signals Bluffs
Similarly, if other players at the table suspect you’re bluffing, they’re more likely to call your value bet. Opponents will be willing to call more often if they suspect you’re trying your luck.
This is why mixing in bluffs is important, as you’ll want to encourage opponents to call your value bets as often as possible. However, avoid unnecessarily risky plays like the triple barrel bluff unless it makes total sense.
Never Leave Money on the Table
A good thin-value bet poker strategy will help to ensure you never leave money on the table. Even if you have a marginal hand, it still presents a good opportunity to grow the pot and take it down — provided you put these tips into practice.
Register at BetMGM and hit the tables to practice the art of betting for value. And when you’re ready to take a break, check out the hundreds of video slots, live dealer casino games, and other enthralling products.