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Jonathan Little on How To Use Huge Value Bets to Your Advantage

James Romero

For this PokerNews strategy column, I’m joined by James Romero, who I consider to be one of the best poker players in the world. In this hand from a World Series of Poker (WSOP) $1,500 Deep-Stacked event, James shows us how to get maximum value.

We will break down the poker strategy behind value bets, including what size you should make your value bets and what the best hands to value bet with are.

The hand kicked off with blinds of 12,500/25,000/25,000 and James opened to 50,000 from under the gun off of an 80 big blind stack holding {a-Spades}{3-Spades}. The big blind called to see a flop heads-up.

James Romero Jonathan Little
James Romero talks through a hand he played at the WSOP

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The flop landed {j-Spades}{7-Spades}{3-Clubs} to give James a pair and the nut flush draw. The big blind checked and James fired a bet of 26,000. James said he likes betting small in this spot because he doesn't mind if he gets raised. Additionally, this small bet allows James to make similarly sized bets with his bluffs, so his range is well-protected.

If James' opponent were to raise in this spot, he could comfortably call given his high equity. The opponent ended up calling, which is also not a bad result. Hands that the opponent may be check-calling include pairs and draws.

The turn brought the {2-Diamonds} and the big blind checked. James said he doesn't think his hand is a good one to bluff with by betting big on the turn since it has some showdown value. Better hands to bet with a big sizing with include the best value hands and hands that lack showdown value.

Because of all this, James decided to check back with his nut flush draw and third pair.

The river brought the {3-Hearts}, missing James' flush draw but improving him to trip threes with an ace kicker. The opponent checked a third time.

What would you do with {a-Spades}{3-Spades} on this river?

  • Bet 50,000 (Small)
  • Bet 100,000 (Medium)
  • Bet 200,000 (Large)
  • Bet a Different Amount

This is a spot where I have seen so many recreational players bet small because they want to get called. However, with a hand this strong you should be betting either pretty big or really big. We basically have the nuts and therefore we should be betting big to maximize value. The bigger you bet, the more bluffs you can include in your range of hands that bet big.

The way this hand played out makes it look like we have missed on this board, so that is another reason to bet big and try to maximize our value. Bluffs that would make sense to bet big in this spots include hands with a king and hands like nine-eight and queen-ten that lack showdown value.

Romero bet 415,000 for about a 2x pot-sized bet. The opponent quickly called with {8-Spades}{7-Clubs}, showing that you can get value from worse hands when you bet big.

For more on this hand check out my breakdown in the following video:

Jonathan Little is a professional poker player and author with over $7,000,000 in live tournament earnings. He writes a weekly educational blog and hosts a podcast at JonathanLittlePoker.com. Sign up to learn poker from Jonathan for free at PokerCoaching.com. You can follow him on Twitter @JonathanLittle.

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