bet sizing quiz 3-bet pots

Bet Sizing Quiz (After 3-Betting In Position) | Upswing Poker Level-Up #35



This article is a transcription of the Level-Up Podcast, hosted by Upswing VP Mike Brady with Gary Blackwood. You can watch or listen to the entire episode via the links above or read on if you prefer a written version.

Mike (00:00):

We are so back to Level Up your poker game. I’m Mike Brady and I’m joined by Scottish cash game pro Gary Blackwood.

Gary (00:12):

Welcome back to the show guys. Happy to be here.

Mike (00:14):

I’ve got three hypothetical cash game situations prepared for this episode and here’s how it’s going to work. I’ll give you a hand and recap the action. You’ll have a few moments to consider your play. Feel free to pause if you need more time, and then I’ll turn it over to Gary to reveal what the best play is and why. Sometimes in poker you’ll have information about your opponents that might sway your decision one way or another, but for these hypothetical hands, assume you have no such information. Note that there may be more than one correct answer in some of these situations, they’re all going to be three bet pots where we are in position, we’re going to look at three different boards. So you’re going to be able to spot the differences in how we play these different boards in what is essentially the same situation. So let’s dive in. Situation number one, the player in the hijack position, that’s two off the button, raises. You are next to act in the cutoff position and re raise with pocket queens. The button and blinds get out of the way and the hijack calls. The flop is seven two two with two clubs, the opponent checks and it’s on you. What’s the best play here? Check, bet small or bet big?

Gary (01:32):

So let’s talk about what we definitely don’t want to be doing here and that’s betting small. We want to always bet our hand. Really strong hand here, really safe board, but we want to be using the bigger size here of at least half pot. It’s a three bet pot, safe board. We want to play for stacks. Checking would be a disaster. Betting small doesn’t really get the value that our range deserves. So bet always and betting bigger is the play.

Mike (01:56):

What does your overall betting strategy look like in that situation? And while you’re answering, I’m going to open up the Lucid GTO trainer, look at this exact board and this exact situation and visualize the range that you’re talking about as you do so.

Gary (02:09):

This is a really good board for us. We have the range advantage, we have the nut advantage and we’re in position. So all these factors mean that we want to be betting virtually our entire range here. We put a lot of pressure on our opponent when we do bet, they’re out of position and we also get to realize our equity on the turn and river with hands like king queen more often because we’re in position. So if we think about how our range wants to play, we want to bet really often here for this 50% continuation bet size.

Mike (02:35):

If you’re a player who kind of lived by the heuristic, when you bet small, you’re betting often and when you bet big, you’re betting less often. This is going to be one of the exceptions to that heuristic. It’s usually a pretty decent rule when you’re betting frequently, you’re doing it for a small size. When you’re betting big, you’re likely not betting that often. It just tends to be the case, but it’s not always the case by any means, and this is a board where it’s not. The seven two two board doesn’t really connect with either player’s range like Gary said, there are some flush draws that both players can have that does play a little bit of a role in sizing here, but no one’s really hitting trips on this board with a deuce, it’s possible to have pocket sevens, but there’s only three combos of that.


So as a result, hands like Aces, Kings, queens, and Jacks, which you have significantly more often as the three better are essentially the nuts on this board. So you want to be pumping the pot as soon as possible. This is not a spot to trot out the very trendy 33% or 25% continuation bet in position, you want to be going pretty big. Lucid likes to go half pot in this spot. I think you can make an argument for going a little bigger, but that’s about where you should be at here betting about, in this case, eight big blinds into a 16 big blind pot and that really sets you up to get the money in by the river with those hands like Aces, kings and queens, you get to bet eight big blinds on the flop if they call the pot will be 32 going into the turn. You’re both going to have about 80 behind. It’s not hard to imagine getting the rest of the money in by the river. Once you’ve reached that turn with that pot size. Gary, suppose you had re-raised from the small blind instead, so you’d actually be out of position on the flop. How does the strategy change? And once again, I’m going to go ahead and set up that scenario in Lucid so we can look at the differences with a nice visual on screen.

Gary (04:18):

So we were doing so much betting because we’re in position and that strategy now changes because we’re out of position. We do less continuation betting overall in general when we’re out of position and this spot is no different. Our specific hand of pocket queens still wants to bet extremely often it’s still a really strong hand on this board, but we don’t want to just bet our entire range here. Some of our minimal equity bluffs will just wave the white flag and let it go. One other thing that changes is our size here. We absolutely do not bet small here it would be a bit of a mistake to bet small in position, but out of position it would be a bit of a disaster to use a one third continuation bet size here with any part of our range, we want to use a much bigger bet size of 75%. If we’re out of position and just use small bets. The in position player gets to float us so unbelievably wide and our life becomes a misery on the turn. We’ve got a lot of air in our range. Our opponent has floated us, we have to check and they just get to take it away from us on the turn. So bigger bets and playing some checks is the way to go here.

Mike (05:15):

Yeah, if you bet small here as the small blind, your opponent who’s in position is going to have the pot odds to call with hands like king queen of hearts. That’s no backdoor flush draw just king high with two overs. I think maybe even hands like jack ten suited and stuff. Yeah, if I force the small blind to use a small size in Lucid GTO, the hijack actually calls the flop with a little bit of jack ten, no backdoor flush draw, literally jack high, just two shitty overs and it’s pretty much always calling with king queen, king jack, king ten, et cetera. We don’t want to allow them to make those profitable calls with that many hands. Now there is one thing I want to note. If you’re up against an opponent who’s not going to float this wide, even against a small bet, they’re going to fold Jack ten every time they’re going to fold King queen, no flush draw every single time versus your small bet, the small bet is not quite as bad against that player.


That said, you still want to be going bigger because it simply allows you to get more money in with those strong hands in your range. So just because that’s small bet isn’t quite as bad against those types of players that you might run into in one three and two five live doesn’t mean you should do it. We still recommend going for that chunkier bet of around 66 to 75% pot on this seven two two board out of position. Let’s run back the same situation but swap out the cards, the hijack raises you re raised from the cutoff with Ace queen off suit and only the hijack calls, the flop is Ace King three this time all different suits and your opponent checks. Are you checking betting small or betting big?

Gary (06:52):

Now this is a spot you want to bet small. I’d bet my hand here always I’d use a smaller size, either one third or quarter pot. Both completely fine. But this is a spot where we want to bet small and we want to bet always.

Mike (07:04):

Yeah. So you kind of answered my next question already here, but I’ll let you expand on it a little bit. What does your overall betting strategy look like in this situation?

Gary (07:12):

I’d bet my entire range for a small size, either one third, quarter pot, both are completely fine. The difference in EV between both of those options is minimal so you don’t have to worry about it, just pick one and be consistent with it. Our opponent will do so much more folding on this board so our smaller bet size is more effective. We can just bet our entire range here for that small size and it’s a very effective strategy.

Mike (07:34):

Again, let’s flip it around and talk about playing out of position. Suppose you had three bet from the small blind. How would your strategy change given that you are now out of position against your opponent?

Gary (07:44):

So what I just said in the last answer about the effectiveness of our bet is really important. Think about the seven deuce deuce flop. Do we generate tons of fold equity by betting one third? The answer is no. Our opponent can float so wide versus that bet with ten high, jack high, ace high, the list goes on. But on Ace King three rainbow, however, they can’t float super wide because one, we connect with that board really well and two, they have so many hands that have so little equity. For example, Jack ten on seven deuce deuce has got two overs, but obviously they can’t have overs on Ace King three. So the effectiveness of betting one third here is very significant. So the answer is we should bet our entire range here for a small size.

Mike (08:24):

The juxtaposition between this board and the previous board really is massive. There’s no hands on this flop really that are kind of crappy but still have a chance to hit something. Like on that seven two two board basically every hand has at least one over, maybe two overs, some backdoor draws, et cetera. On this board. If you have not flopped a pair, the best you can have is a gutshot, the queen tens, the queen jacks, the jack tens, the five fours, those hands are going to be able to call you, but there aren’t that many of those. Most of the hands in your opponents range here, they’re going to have a bunch of ten nine suited, they’re going to have nine eight suited, they’re going to have pocket pairs like pocket eights. All these types of hands are complete dust on this board. There’s nothing they can do with them. You could probably bet 10% pot and they would fold them. So you really get to leverage the fact that they don’t really have hands that can float and you can expect to win the pot quite often with that small bet. Same positional matchup for a third and final time. The hijack raises and you three bet from the cutoff with pocket queens. The ladies are back in your corner for this one. The hijack calls and then checks to you on a ten seven four flop with two clubs. What’s your play check, bet small or bet big?

Gary (09:43):

So we mainly want to be betting here, betting around 75% of the time. And again, really important we’re not using that small bet size. We’ll talk about why that is in a second, but the answer here is bet relatively often for the 50% bet size.

Mike (09:56):

What does your overall betting strategy look like on this dynamic flop?

Gary (10:01):

So as you say, it’s a dynamic flop, which means we’ve got to tread much more carefully. You generally get to bet more often on the really disconnected boards, but this is wetter. The caller is going to connect with it more and therefore continue more often versus a continuation bet. And as a result, our checking frequency with our range must increase. So we still want to use that bigger half pot bet size here when we bet, but we’re now checking more often overall with our range because of how much better our opponent connects and therefore will continue on this board. Now when our checking frequency increases, it’s really important that we protect that checking range with certain types of hands. So some of our over pairs will check sometimes, definitely not always, but they’re in there at some frequency. And as well as that a lot of our top pairs will check back as well. It’s really important that our checkback range is not too weak and we protect them with a low frequency checkback with our over pairs and some of our top pairs as well.

Mike (10:52):

Think for a moment about what happens if you implement the perhaps more intuitive strategy of always betting with your over pairs and your top pairs on this board. I think it’s pretty typical to look at a board like this ten seven four, 2 clubs think wow, there are a lot of draws. I have to charge those draws, I have to get them out of there. If they have over cards, I have to deny their equity. I’m going to always bet when I have an over pair, I’m going to always bet when I have top pair. That’s a pretty intuitive thing to think. I wouldn’t blame you if that would be your approach on this board, but consider what that means when you do check. If you’re always betting your overpairs on your top pairs, when you do check back, it’s because you have Ace King or Ace Queen or King Queen suited or whatever over card hand that has missed this board.


So unless the turn pairs one of your over card hands, you’re going to be in a pretty rough spot. You’re basically always just going to have unpaired over cards. If your opponent bets into you, you’re going to be at a pretty nasty spot. It would be really, really bad if they start to perceive you to be a player who’s only checking back with high cards because now they can really attack on the turn if it’s not a high card, knowing that you never really have anything and you’re going to be in a tough spot and you’re often going to have to fold. You don’t want to put yourself in that situation. You want to check back with some of these top pairs, some of these over pairs. So when you do reach the turn after checking back, you’re not always screwed. If they bet you’re going to be lying in weight with a hand like pocket queens sometimes with a hand like Jack ten suited, quite often they’re not going to be able to exploit your checkback range and your strategy is just going to be more robust overall and you’re going to be tougher to play against.

Gary (12:22):

Absolutely. And the final thing I want to add here at the end, whilst we are talking about certain types of textures where we do want to play a small checkback range with some of those over pairs, some of those top pairs, it’s really important that those of us watching or listening don’t just go out and start checking back tons of hands on boards that we shouldn’t. So there are some textures where we want to play some check backs, but there’s still a lot of textures out there where we get to just bet our entire range. So don’t confuse the two. My advice is to be mindful of some of the boards where you do want to play check backs on, for example, the ten seven four flush draw. But let’s go ahead and bet our entire range where that’s the right strategy.

Mike (12:55):

And if you’re thinking, well how can I study all these boards? How can I figure out what are the boards where I’m supposed to check back and what are the boards that I’m supposed to always bet? That’s where tools like Upswings new Lucid GTO trainer make things really, really easy. You can go join right now, it’s $49 a month and you can instantly look up any of these boards in any of the positional matchups and see how often am I supposed to bet, how often am I supposed to check what are the sizes that like to get used by the solver? And it really saves you a lot of time in your study and allows you to build these robust strategies that we’re always talking about on this podcast. Let’s flip it around one more time and talk about playing out of position. Gary, how do things change if you are out of position as the small blind three better on that ten seven four, 2 club flop.

Gary (13:41):

Two really important factors here. One, as we know it’s a wetter more dynamic flop, so we do more checking and two, we’re now out of position. Both these factors added together means that our strategy will involve a lot more checking, which means our betting range is more polarized and as a result our bet size will go up to an even bigger size of 75%. This is not a great spot for us out of position on a connected dynamic board that our opponent is going to continue on relatively often. So we bet less often with our range, but we bet for a bigger size. If the board is like ten four deuce rainbow, we bet more often. But this wet connected ten seven four flush draw where there are straight draws and flush draws galore, we’re going to check a lot more often.

Mike (14:24):

And to your point about the in position player continuing quite often even against the pretty big size, the in position player only folds 36% of the time on ten seven four and that’s against a pretty big bet. So you’re simply not getting your continuation bet through very often here, so you kind of want to have the goods a little bit more often, right?

Gary (14:43):

Yeah, absolutely. And if we take a quick look at some of the types of hands that are not continuation betting here, these hands would definitely continuation bet at least much more often if we were in position. You’ve got hands like queen jack suited some Ace four suited Ace five suited without the backdoor flush draw all these types of hands which are happily betting in position or betting on a dryer texture. These hands are just check folding and a lot of people need to hear this. There are some scenarios where you three bet pre-flop. It’s completely okay to just go ahead and check fold. If we force the check here for the small blind and then force the bet for the hijack, we’re going to see a lot of check folds and there are some scenarios where it’s just okay to check fold. A lot of people think I three bet pre-flop, I have to win the pot. It’s completely okay to just go ahead and check fold sometimes.

Mike (15:24):

Yeah, that really reminds me of something that poker players love to do, which is they conflate what are two independent things with each other. They’re like, oh, well you called the turn with that hand so you have to call the river. No, you don’t. You don’t have to. You called the turn because you thought it was a profitable call and now you’re on the river and you don’t think it’s a profitable call. And just like Gary’s saying here, you three bet pre flop because it was a profitable three bet in a vacuum and now you’ve reached the flop and now the best move is to check fold. That can be the case. It’s totally okay. You are supposed to lose some hands in poker. You don’t have to worry about getting your soldiers back every single time. Sometimes you got to lose the battle to eventually win the war.


That’s all we’ve got for you today. Let us know what poker topic do you want to learn about. We are very open to suggestions for future episode topics here on the Upswing Level Up podcast. You can tweet at me @mbradycf tweet at Gary, which is @GazzyB1233 So let us know what you want to hear about. You can also tweet with the #UPLevelUp. We’ll definitely see it. Thank you very much for listening. Hit that like button and subscribe. If you enjoyed the show, share it with your friends. See you in the next one.

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