I generally advise playing an aggressive game in hold’em, but there are numerous ways to make a bad bet if you’re not careful. You can run a bluff that’s unlikely to work, make a value bet that’s poorly sized, or even bet in a situation where checking expects to gain more value.
The most obvious bad bets are failed bluffs. If you’re a highly active player and continue bluffing frequently after your table has adjusted to your aggressive style, you’re almost certainly making some bad bets. And if you run a bluff where you can’t plausibly have any of the strong hands that you’re representing, then it’s definitely going to be considered a bad bet. You can also run a bluff where your bet is too small, allowing an opponent to correctly call based on pot odds in a situation where he would’ve folded to a larger bet. Always be aware of the odds you’re offering your opponents.
Sometimes you make a successful value bet and win the hand, but your bet was still bad because you failed to extract maximum value. For example, if you bet quarter-pot in a situation where your opponent would’ve paid off a full-pot bet, you have made a big mistake. To optimise your bet sizing, you need to practice hand reading against your opponents and try to take more from him when you read him for a strong hand (or take a little from him if you think he’s weak but will call you if the pot odds are good enough).
And then there are situations where not betting at all is the best play. Reaching a river with moderate showdown value on a board showing missed draws, it’s unlikely that betting is superior to checking if your opponent likes to bluff with this type of hand (missed draws). Of course, if you know your opponent is passive, then you should just bet your hand, but in some cases you can’t win more money by betting, you need to give opponents an opportunity to bet themselves. The more aggressive the opponent, the better checking to him becomes.
A prime example of making a bad bet
Check out this short video clip that highlights a prime example of making a bad bet. How would you have played the hand? Let us know in the comments box below.