In poker, whenever you throw chips into the pot, it’s considered a bet. It doesn’t matter whether you are placing the first bet, calling an existing bet or raising another player’s bet. That’s the basics covered, so stay tuned to read up on all the details below...we bet it’s worth it!

Know Your Bet

I know, I know, it sounds like simple advice but it never goes out of fashion. Instead of getting muddled up during the fast-paced scramble of a thrilling hand, just have a peek below and make sure you know what you’re doing when you place your bet. (or check or call)

BET - Congrats! You’re the first person to put money in the pot and kick off the betting. Other players must then decide whether to call, fold or raise your initial bet.

CHECK - You want to stick with your hand without betting your money - provided nobody else bets.

CALL - Someone else has launched the betting and you have to at least match their bet to stay in the hand.

RAISE - Another player has laid a bet and now, you can choose to call or raise which will, of course, increase the size of the pot. That player will then have to fold, call, or re-raise your bet.

FOLD - If you fold, you’re sitting this handout and relinquishing any claim on the current pot.

The Progression Of Betting

As shown above, there’s a fairly significant difference between calling and raising. Firstly, if you simply call a bet, you’re tipping your hand to other players. They know you may have an ok hand but you don’t believe it’s strong enough to put any serious pressure on them. You’d be surprised by just how many hands of poker are won because one player bets the rest fold. We’re not suggesting that any player would fold just because you called their bet. However, by making the initial bet or raising the existing bet you are forcing your opponent to react and allowing yourself to scoop up the pot before the game reaches a showdown.

Is Size Everything?

When betting, yeah, I’m gonna say it’s fairly important! A small bet is generally considered as being equal to half the pot or less. While a medium bet is between half and three-quarters of the pot and a large bet is defined as anything above three quarters. Naturally, how much you choose to bet is influenced by several factors, including the reaction you’re hoping to provoke from one or all of the other players. 

Do you suspect that you have the strongest hand at the table and you’re trying to get as much into the pot as possible? In this case, you would make what’s called a value bet. This is a bet that you want to get called so that more money lands in the pot. Sometimes, if you place a larger wager out of the blue, it’s less likely to be called as it can scare other players into folding. In these cases, a smaller wager that’s less likely to be called can be your best bet for building up the pot.

Despite player’s being scared off by big bets at times, if your goal is for them to fold, then you want to achieve this with minimal risk. This means placing as small a bet as necessary. You’ll be risking fewer chips should another player call your bet and players are known to fold to lesser bets when they’re not holding a strong hand. As with everything in poker, the size of your bet hinges on several factors that’ll require you to use your best judgement. Look at the plays in the hand so far, think about the result you want to elicit from other players and ask yourself if your fellow players would fold to a big bet or not. 

When Not to Bet

One of the most important things about poker is knowing when NOT to bet. Don’t sink yourself even deeper into a hole if you’ve nothing but duds. Even more so if your opponents are twitching with excitement because of their cards. Do yourself a favour - fold early, sit this round out and live to play another hand. 

When To Check

When betting, you need to be very careful about the signals you’re sending to the rest of the table, particularly when it comes to the progression of your betting. For instance, let’s say you come into the game with the potential for a strong hand and place a bet on the preflop. After the flop, the potential is still there so you raise this bet. Here’s where the hijinks happen. The turn comes and that potentially strong hand has gone out the window. What do you do? If you choose to bet, but that bet is lower than your last one, you’re telling the other players the story of your hand - and how you no longer have confidence in it. In this instance, where you feel like a bluff won’t even save you, it’s time to check. 

Don’t reduce the size of your bet in a half-hearted attempt to outplay your opponents. Reducing the size of your bet like this is like telling other players that there's blood in the water. Sure enough, being the sharks that they are, they’ll prey on this perceived weakness and throw a re-raise in your direction. In this case, you’ve just burned through more money than necessary on a decidedly weak play. If you’re not willing to increase your bets with each round, check or fold.

Betting While Bluffing

Bluffing is a risky strategy but we’d be lying if we said it wasn’t one of the most exhilarating elements of the game. Still, there are some core rules to stick to to ensure it’s not too risky! Firstly, if you’ve been paying attention to your game thus far, you’ll have a pretty good read on the temperature of the room. Which of your opponents do you suspect of not having a particularly strong hand? Are they showing any tells or exhibiting behaviour to suggest they’d be easily fooled by your bluff? Secondly, read the cards from the pre-flop and the flop. If you raised on the flop and good cards, (but not the ones you needed) materialised on the pre-flop, you still have an opportunity to bluff that you have a good hand. If you follow up with a continuation bet, you may scare off the other players, even good players with middle pocket pairs. A word of caution though, if other players are showing behaviour to suggest they have a strong hand, don’t just bluff for the sake of bluffing. Know when to bow out of the game gracefully. 

Consider Your Style

We don’t care if you’re into skinny jeans or flared, we’re asking about your poker playing style. Tight? Tight-aggressive? Loose? If you don’t know what I’m talking about, it’s time to put in a bit more practice and perhaps give these resources here a gander. [Can hyperlink to our Youtube on playing styles] If, however, you’re well informed of your playing style, it’s time to see how it can affect your betting strategy. If you are a loose poker player who sees just about every flop and almost always puts out a continuation bet after the flop, then expect to see a lot more players willing to either call your bet or re-raise you. However, if you are a tight player who folds frequently to bets and re-raises, then expect savvy players to bet into you more often. This could work to your advantage, of course, when you have a really strong hand, but it also will force you to make a lot of decisions and it will increase the importance of connecting with the flop. This style will cause other players to respect your raises more, but that means you may have difficulty building up substantial pots because players are folding to your bets.

Overall, betting can be scary but ultimately exhilarating. It’s one of the elements that make people so invested in the game and leads them to work so hard at honing their poker skills. Still, we recommend that you only bet what you can afford to lose and remember, fun can be had without the risk of financial insecurity. Thanks to social casino games, like KamaGames’ own Pokerist, poker enthusiasts across the globe can connect and play on a freemium model. If you want to practice your betting style in a no-risk environment click here and download Pokerist today!