Value betting is part of a more advanced player's texas holdem betting strategy. "Betting for value" is tricky for beginners; you need to have learned a few tricks of the trade about how to read other players and calculate poker pot odds before you start using it in your texas holdem betting strategy. But once you do get to the level where you can use it, there is a lot of money to be made with value betting.
The gist of value betting is that you are trying to win with, usually, a mediocre hand--but, a mediocre hand that you have determined is the likely winner in the game because, as you have determined, it's highly likely that everyone else who has stayed in has junk or weak hands that they are trying to bluff with (or, they aren't being smart with). Betting for value also means that you are trying to sweeten that pot as much as you can--so, you don't want to give away that you have what you determine is likely to be the winning hand, because you want the other players to stay in and, hopefully, even raise. Therefore, value betting is a strategy that's virtually always used on the turn or the river. The more advanced your play becomes, the more often you'll be able to wait and use it on the river.
Being able to use this sly texas holdem betting strategy also entails knowing how to establish and use your poker image. If you have established yourself at the table in previous games as someone who is more aggressive than on average, value betting might be a charm for you because other players with weak hands, but not garbage (say they have something like a pair of 3's after the turn), could suspect you are stone cold bluffing and stay in--ultimately to give you more money.
Now, you want to begin thinking about this strategy when you notice someone limping in. A good illustration of "limping in" in poker is a tournament where, if someone's in last position (one of the very best) and no other players have raised the bet of the Big Blind they might limp in--call--to see the flop. If someone does this when in that position, they likely don't have anything that looks all that good in their hole. They are likely to have something like 2-8 where they desperately need some lucky community cards to get anything at all. But anyone who is not one of the blinds for that game might limp in.
When you notice this, you have to make sure that you know you're pretty good at putting opponents on hands. That is, you need to be good at using all available information to accurately deduce the most likely kinds of hands that your opponents have. In a particular setting, it gets easier to do this as the more games are played with the same people, because you can start to learn their habits, their tendencies, and their poker images.
Let's consider a realistic scenario where you would be able to make effective use of this texas holdem betting strategy.
The game is $1/$2 No Limit Hold'em. In the hole, you get A? 3?. You're in a middle position and you see that one player sitting in an early position limps in. You also limp in. The big blind checks. Now the flop yields 2? 2? 8? and every player, including you, checks. The turn yields a 10?, and all check again. Q? floats up on the river and the player on your right checks. It's your move. The pot is a mere $7 at this point. You can safely deduce at this stage that all hands are weak, some might be rubbish, and your Ace is probably high. Given the information, you are probably going to win--so, despite your mediocre holding, you stay in. You could bet here to see if you can sweeten the pot for yourself, but if you do it's likely that most others will just fold, so you might just want to check.
On the other hand, if you know you've got a Maniac at the table, you could bet and be confident he would stay in and perhaps even raise. You could use him to sweeten your pot even if all others fold.
As you can see, value betting in Texas Hold'em is basic and elementary, but at the same time even though it's simple it's not an easy texas holdem betting strategy for those lacking experience.
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