bet sizing tips

3 Bet Sizing Tips That Will Help Your Game (from Lucid GTO)

If you like winning money in poker, your bet sizing strategy needs to be on point.

So to help you out, I’m going to give you 3 crucial tips to improve your skills in this key area.

I’ll prove the validity of each tip using the new Lucid GTO Trainer in the Advanced section of this article.


Let’s dive in!

The 3 Bet Sizing Tips Explained in Simple Terms

Bet sizing in poker is a complex topic. To fully explain these tips and the “why” behind each of them, I will need to get into some advanced territory.

But before doing that, I’m going to run through my 3 tips in simple terms to ensure that everyone (not just advanced players) can get value from reading this article.

Want to skip straight to the advanced versions of these tips? Click here.

Simple Tip #1. Bet large when the flop has a lot of potential draws

When you have a bet-worthy hand on a wet flop, you should often bet relatively large.

By wet flop, I mean flops with a lot of potential draws (such as or ).

This tip applies to both your strong hands (like top pair) and your bluffs (like straight draws and flush draws).

Generally speaking, you should avoid betting marginal hands on these types of flops. When you bet, it should be because you have either a strong hand or a good draw.

If you have a total nothing-burger or a medium-strength hand, lean towards checking.

Tip #1 Example

Suppose you raise before the flop and the player in the Big Blind calls. The flop is and your opponent checks.

If you have a good top pair, an overpair, two pair, or a set in this situation, you should go for a pot-sized bet (or bigger). You should make that same bet if you have a good draw, such as .

Should you find yourself with a missed hand (like ) or a medium-strength hand (like ) in this situation, you should simply check.

There are exceptions to this “wet flop, bet big” advice. Tip #2 covers one such exception.

Simple Tip #2. Lean towards betting small on the flop in 3-bet pots

When the pot is already quite big relative to your stack, you should generally use smaller bet sizes (even on wet flops).

A common situation in which this happens is when there is a 3-bet (i.e. re-raise) before the flop.

Tip #2 Example

Suppose you’re playing a $2/$5 cash game with a $500 stack.

A player (in the Cutoff position) raises to $15 before the flop and you 3-bet to $50 from the Button. (For the sake of this example, don’t worry about your specific hand.)

Your opponent calls, the flop comes , and your opponent checks.

In this example, there is already around $100 in the pot and you have $450 left in your stack.

When the pot is bloated in this way, you should lean towards using smaller bet sizes (half pot or less).

Why are smaller bet sizes preferred in these bloated pot situations? There are two primary reasons I want to highlight:

  1. It allows you frequently put your opponent in a tough spot.
    You get to bet small with your strong hands (like ) and your misses (like ). If your opponent is holding a marginal hand like , they’ll find themself in a challenging situation right away.
  2. You can still get all your money in by the river.
    With so much money already in the pot, it will be easy to get your entire stack in the middle by the river. That makes it less important to bet big on the flop.

Continuing the example above, if you bet $50 on the flop with and your opponent calls, there will be $200 in the pot and you will have $400 in your stack.

Let’s say the turn is the ( ) . If your opponent checks, you can now bet something like $130. Should your opponent call, there will be $460 in the pot and you will have $270 in your stack. That’s a nice amount to shove all-in with your Aces on, say, a river.

If your opponent has a Jack or even a hand like Pocket Tens in this situation, they will be very tempted to call. If they do, you win the maximum with your Aces.

Simple Tip #3. Bet small on the river when you’re out of position with a medium-strength hand

This tip is specifically for when your opponent checked back on the turn.

When you’re out of position on the river with a medium-strength hand (such as middle pair), you should usually block bet.

A block bet is a relatively small bet (20-40% of the pot) made by a player who is out of position.

This tactic has two major benefits:

  1. Block betting allows you to eek out a little bit of value from your medium-strength hand.
  2. By block betting, you prevent your opponent from being able to bet big themselves.

Tip #3 Example

Suppose a player raises and you defend your Big Blind with .

The flop is and you check. Your opponent bets and you make the obvious call with your top pair.

The turn is the and you check again. Your opponent checks back.

The river is the . This is a perfect situation to use the block bet tactic.

By betting small (around 1/3rd of the pot), you will basically force your opponent to call with hands like and . Think about how enticing it is to call such a small bet on the river when you have a somewhat decent hand like that!

If you check to your opponent in this situation, they will simply check again with those weaker pairs and you’ll miss out on that extra bet!

Let’s move onto the advanced portion of this article

I’m about to run through the same 3 tips, but I’m not going to hold back this time. Advanced players will love the deep analysis that follows.

If you want to hop off the train here but don’t want to stop improving your poker skills, check out this article next:

3 Easily Understood Poker Tactics That Will Make You Money in 2024

Advanced: Key Factors for Flop Bet Sizing

I will reference the following factors repeatedly in the advanced sections of this article.

  • Stack-to-pot ratio (SPR) – this is the single most important factor to consider when sizing your bets

  • Nut advantage – which player has more super strong hands in their range

  • VMB ratio – the ratio of Value hands to Medium hands to Bluffs. This is a novel concept that I discovered while working with solvers.

  • Board wetness – how dynamic is the flop and how likely is it that the current nuts will remain the nuts on future streets?

  • Relative position – are you in or out of position?

  • Number of players involved in the pot

With these in mind, let’s go to the next section where I share with you the most important tips!

Tip #1: Wet flops usually warrant large bet sizes

Let’s consider the following situation.

You raise from the Button and the Big Blind calls (100bb stacks). The flop comes . The Big Blind checks and the action is on you.

By running through each of the factors

  • Stack-to-pot ratio (SPR) – this is a very high SPR situation which means a big bet is required on the flop in order to efficiently get all of the money in on the river.

  • Nut advantage – you have way more super strong hands (sets and overpairs) on this flop than your opponent, which sh much value as possible.

  • VMB ratio – your range is skewed towards bluffs, which should make you favor a bigger size (because a bigger size allows you to add more bluffs without becoming exploitable).

  • Board wetness is high and the current nuts are vulnerable. This should make you favor a bigger size so you can get value from their high equity hands and deny equity from their marginal draws.

  • You are in position which should also make you favor a large size. (On average, optimal in position bet sizes are bigger than optimal out of position bet sizes.)

  • There are only 2 players involved in the pot, which also favors a bigger size because there is only 1 opponent to worry about.

Every single factor listed here indicates that a large size is best. But exactly how big should you bet?

You can use a GTO training tool, such as Upswing’s new Lucid GTO Cash Game Trainer, to get the answer in a few clicks.

Take a look at the following screenshot from Lucid GTO, which shows exactly how the solver plays this flop:

j92cc flop bet

When betting on this flop, Lucid GTO recommends opting for an overbet (6.65bb into 5bb).


You can see that the solver’s preferred bet size is 6.65bb (I drew a red box around it), which is an overbet (133% pot).

If you look at the range of hands on the right side of the screenshot, you see that the solver plays a polarized strategy. In other words, every hand that bets is either very good (overpairs, strong draws, etc) or quite trashy (A5o, K8o, etc).

Inside of the Lucid GTO Trainer, you can also see a breakdown of how each hand class is played:

hand class breakdown j-9-2

You can see that all of the medium-strength hand classes (2nd pair, 3rd pair, ace-high, etc) are mostly green, indicating check.

This is perfectly in line with the conclusions drawn from the factor list. It makes sense to utilize a very large size here, with a polarized range, given that there were no deterrent factors.

Tip #2: Bet small on the flop in 3-bet pots

Same flop, different situation.

Suppose the player in the Cutoff raises and you 3-bet from the Button (100bb stacks). The Cutoff calls and then checks to you on the board.

Let’s run through the factors:

  • Stack-to-pot ratio (SPR) – the SPR is low in this scenario, which means there is no urgency to build the pot with a big bet. This favors a smaller size.

  • Nut advantage – with such a low SPR, overpairs can be played as the effective nuts. That means you clearly have a nut advantage as the Button, which favors a larger size.

  • VMB ratio – skewed towards bluffs, but not as much as in the previous example. This somewhat favors a larger size.

  • Board wetness is high which favors a larger size.

  • You are in position which favors a larger size.

  • There are only 2 players involved in the pot, which also favors a bigger size because there is only 1 opponent to worry about.

Most of the factors pull us toward a larger size.

However, the most important factor, stack-to-pot ratio, is pulling toward a smaller size. So, which size is better?

This is where tools like Lucid GTO really come in handy. After playing millions of hands against itself to determine the optimal strategy, here’s how the solver suggests playing this situation:

j-9-2 3-bet pot strategy for button

The solver opts to bet small on this flop very frequently (89% of the time)

The solver was given 3 bet sizing options in this scenario with 15.9bb in the pot:

  1. 3.18bb (20% pot)
  2. 7.95bb (50% pot)
  3. 11.92bb (75% pot)

The solver is torn between option 1 and option 2 (red boxes). But it absolutely never reaches for option 3 (blue box). Clearly, smaller sizes are preferred in this low SPR situation.

A key takeaway here is that SPR is an incredibly critical factor when it comes to bet sizing.

Tip #3: With medium-strength hands, you should block bet when probe betting on the river

A probe bet is an out of position bet made after the preflop aggressor had the opportunity to continuation bet on the prior street, but didn’t. Probing is only possible on the turn or river.

Suppose you defend your Big Blind against the Button and then check-call a bet on the flop. Now imagine your opponent checks back on the turn.

If you have a medium-strength hand in such a scenario, you should usually prefer to use a block bet. This prevents your opponent from making a bigger, polarized bet if you check.

Let’s run through a final example.

You defend your Big Blind against a Button raise. The flop is and you check. Your opponent read tip #1 and knows to bet big on this wet flop, so he bets 6.65bb into 5bb. You call.

The turn is the , you check, and your opponent checks back.

The river is the . Here’s how Lucid GTO recommends playing this situation with your entire range as the Big Blind:

972q4 river probe range

If you look at the range on the right, you can see that the solver prefers to block bet with almost all of the hands (which are now second pairs). It elects to overbet with stronger hands such as , , , and Pocket Twos. We also see mostly played as a block bet (which protects the block betting range so it’s not just second pairs).

Take a look at the hand class breakdown:

2nd pair loves blocking

2nd pair loves block betting. Top pair loves overbetting. Two pair and sets do both.

Why do second pairs like block betting so much?

If you check with the hands, then the Button will happily check-back with weaker showdown hands such as and . If the Button has a strong hand (K9 or better), they will likely make a bigger wager.


If you bet small with , the Button will now call with those 3rd and 4th pair type of hands (so you get value). Plus, you lose less against those hands with which your opponent would have bet big if you checked.

By utilizing a block bet strategy, you are guaranteed to be playing at least a minimally +EV (expected value) strategy.

One quick exploitative note: If you know your opponent over-bluffs against the check, then it’s better to check-call rather than to block.

Final Thoughts

As previously mentioned, bet sizing is an extremely complex topic. It requires a lot of studying and practice to understand deeply. I’ve only scratched the surface with this article.

If you want to practice your bet sizing and get instant feedback on every decision, get the new Lucid GTO Cash Game Trainer now.



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About the Author
Dan B.

Dan B.

Online grinder aspiring to reach the highest stakes and crush the toughest games. I'm available for quick strategy questions and hourly coaching -- reach out to me at [email protected].

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