Your average poker player defaults to certain bet sizes–for example, c-betting 30% on the flop–without stopping to consider the board texture and to weigh up their options. Often, overbetting the pot isn’t even a consideration.
But understanding when and why to use big bets is imperative to increasing your win rate.
One player notorious among the high stakes regulars for choosing squirm-inducing bet sizes is Michael Addamo, who we recently wrote about in our article ‘How to become the best poker player in the world’.
When you are about to bluffcatch Adammo and then he bets 28x the pot pic.twitter.com/uImw17d8QK
— Patrick Leonard (@padspoker) October 11, 2021
Whether it’s betting 1.5x the pot on the flop with second pair or shoving the turn for 4x pot with nothing but heaps of equity, Addamo understands the importance of big bets to a winning poker strategy, perhaps better than any player right now.
Let’s take a quick look at a hand that Addamo played against Daniel Negreanu in the $300K buy-in Super High Roller Bowl (Sep 2021), in which Addamo stacked Negreanu in the very first level of a super-deep tournament structure.
ADDAMO VS NEGREANU
Both players started the tournament with 300,000 in chips with Level 1 blinds at 500/1,000.
Negreanu opened A ♥ K ♦ on the button to 2,500 and Addamo defended his big blind with 8 ♠ 6 ♣ .
The flop came 5 ♣ 7 ♥ 9 ♦ , giving Addamo the nuts with a straight. He checked to Negreanu, who opted to check back with his two overs.
The turn is the A ♠ , giving Negreanu top-pair, top-kicker. Addamo checked it to him again and this time Negreanu led for 3,500. Here Addamo chose to raise to 36,000 — 4x the pot. Negreanu called.
The river was the 5 ♥ , pairing the board. Undeterred, Addamo moved all-in for 215,000 effective — 2.77x the pot.
According to PokerGoNews, Negreanu used multiple time extensions before deciding to make the call. With that, he was eliminated and Addamo then had a 600-big-blind stack, all thanks to his big bets.
Really interesting hand IMO.
Some weird shenanigans here from a theory perspective.
975 checked flop
3x pot check raise or 1/2 pot
3x pot jam with 68! https://t.co/sdCwTsKBLA
— Daniel Negreanu (@RealKidPoker) September 27, 2021
BIG BETS WITH BIGSTEALER
Another player who has put in a ton of work of big bets is BBZ coach Bertie “bigstealer” Bayley, who has an extensive background in most no limit hold’em formats and is currently one of the top regulars in $500 Zoom games on PokerStars.
Bayley has just released his new Bigstealer Cash Bundle to bring you comprehensive GTO lessons that you can apply to your game immediately, as well as in-depth conversations with Parker “tonkaaaap” Talbot and Jordan “bigbluffzinc” Drummond, and unfiltered live-play sessions so you can see every move today’s best cash pros are making.
In the bundle, he also dedicates a 68-minute video to breaking down common sizing mistakes poker players make, before running through an hour of hand examples, all while discussing the reasons behind the big bet preference.
“This is true for both tournaments and cash games, but you’d be stunned by the number of people who default to small betting in cash games, which is strange as ranges are tighter and you generally want to be more polarizing,” says Bayley.
“It’s very understandable for tournament players who come from a rakeless, ante’d game to understand that there are wide ranges,” he continues. “There’s going to be a lot of check-folding, so smaller sizes are efficient.”
But according to Bayley, a lot of these small size bets are simply not appropriate, or at least they won’t be your highest EV choice.
“Human beings are consistently insensitive to bet sizings,” he says. “Everyone talks about how people overfold when you c-bet small, but when you c-bet massive–and I’m talking flop overbets–people consistently underfold, so that’s really great for us when we’re pushing a lot of equity.”
Remember that the next time you’re trying to exploit an opponent and you’re not sure whether to bet big or not.
It’s important to point out that Bayley isn’t suggesting you completely disregard what the sims are telling you in terms of small betting. Far from it.
“You should always do your own study, but if you’re able to say that this player does this with X, Y and Z which makes big betting better–and it’s accurate–then obviously you should stray [from the sims] and that becomes the new optimal line.
“GTO is game theory optimal, but optimum isn’t always GTO. I think it’s very important to understand where people are making their mistakes.”
To learn more about big bets and when and why to use them, check out the Bigstealer Cash Bundle, the perfect tool to help you make a successful transition into NL Holdem cash games.