The three reasons to bet

Some poker players  are often confused about reasons to bet. The simple thought process can be “I have a nice hand, I’ll bet”. But there are only three valid reasons to bet:

  • Bet for value – to get worse hands to call
  • Bet as a bluff – to get better hands to fold
  • Bet for protection – to prevent opponents from realizing their equity

It can sometimes be valid to bet for a combination of bet for protection with one of the other two. Let’s have a closer look at the three reasons.

Bet for value

When you bet for value you want your opponents to call. Before you make your bet you will consider your opponents range and the strength of your hand versus their ranges (among many other things). You will consider which hands they will call with for different bet sizes. If your hand isn’t that strong, but still good enough to bet, you are betting for thin value.

Bet as a bluff

When you bet as a bluff you want your opponents to fold. There are two types of bluffs, pure bluffs and semi-bluffs. With a pure bluff you aren’t that hopeful that you will have the best hand if it goes to showdown. With a semi-bluff you aren’t expecting to have the best hand right now  if you are called. But it is a hand that has a number of cards that can improve it to the best (outs). Usually it’s a flush draw or a straight draw, but it can also be two strong overcards or a gutshot draw. So even though you prefer folds, you will still have a decent chance of winning when called – and it can become a big pot.

Bet for protection

When you bet for protection you have a medium strength hand that is likely best right now. You bet to protect it from being outdrawn. If you are called it will often be from stronger hands, so you prefer folds.