In No Limit Hold’em, much like video games and karate lessons, you need to master one level before you can move on to the next. In karate, as your skill level increases, your instructor presents you with the next belt. But in poker, only you can decide when it’s time to graduate to the next level. That’s a tricky proposition for some players because it’s difficult to assess your own progress.
In poker, you’ve got to start at the bottom level and work your way up. This advice applies to the limits that you play and the sizing of the bets that you make.
All beginners should start out with a No Limit betting strategy based on making large-sized bets. Then, as skills increase, bet sizing should decrease. Here’s why.
When you make small raises before the flop, other players will simply be more likely to call those bets. That means you’ll end up facing difficult decisions after the flop. More post-flop decisions mean more variables to consider with more money at stake. Advanced players excel in these situations; beginners suffer the consequences.
Fortunately, there is a betting system that can help shift the advantage back to the novice player. By making excessively large pre-flop bets, novices can force better players to lay down their marginal hands.
But the question still remains: What’s the correct amount to bet? Well, bet sizing should be proportional to your skill level.
A rank beginner playing at skill Level 1 needs to make very large raises — five times the big blind. With blinds at 50/100, a novice who decides to play should bet 500. This size bet will protect you against a looser and tougher opponent whose goal is to outplay you after the flop. If you do make it to the flop, keep betting large with a pot-sized bet.
As you improve to skill Level 2, slightly reduce your pre-flop bet size. With blinds at 50/100, bet out 450 pre-flop, and 90% of the pot size after the flop.
The trend continues as you improve to the third skill level. Now, lower your pre-flop bet to 400, and bet out 80% of the pot after the flop.
When you reach Level 4, try betting 3 ½ times the big blind, and then follow it up with a post-flop bet equal to 75% of the pot.
Congratulations if you’ve made it to Level 5! You’re now an experienced and accomplished player. Your bets and raises should adhere to the industry standards: three times the big blind pre-flop and 65% of the pot after the flop.
Note: Too many beginners make the mistake of starting at this level’s betting scheme. If you’re a beginner, start with Level 1 betting!
Okay, once you feel that you’ve mastered the game – you’d be wrong, by the way, poker is a game that can never be mastered – it’s time for an aggressive style of betting. At Level 6, bet 2 ½ times the big blind, and follow up with a bet of 50-60% of the pot after the flop. At this advanced level, you’ll need to rely on a set of multi-dimensional poker skills which includes the ability to read people. Quite frankly, this level’s betting scheme is inappropriate for most players. There will be far too many tough post-flop decisions and the risk of making costly errors in post-flop play increases significantly.
Without a doubt, the toughest part about selecting the proper bet size is that you must be your own harshest critic. Swallow your pride and be completely objective about your own poker skill level. Only then can you implement an effective betting strategy.
Visit www.cardsharkmedia.com/book.html for information about Daniel Negreanu’s new book, Hold’em Wisdom for All Players.
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