If you're not value betting correctly, you're bleeding money. That's a fact. And it's even more true in recreational games where many players tend to call more often than they should.
Today, we're going to look at three ways to make thin value bets that will help you maximize your return against recreational players.
Before we get started, let's look at what thin value betting actually is.
What is "Thin Value"?
A thin value bet is a bet made when you belive you will win the hand just over 50% of the time. So really, it's a value bet with a somewehat marginal hand.
You're playing $1/2 cash, and get dealt [Qs][Ts]on the button. 6 folds. You raise to $5. SB folds. BB calls.
Flop ($11): [Th][8s][7d]
BB checks. You bet $7. BB Calls.
Turn ($25): [4c]
BB checks. You bet $17. BB Calls.
River ($59): [3c]
BB checks. We.....?
This is a perfect spot to be betting for thin value. About 2/3 of the pot makes sense here.
On the river, the BB should be calling about 55-60% of the time to not be vulnerable to being bluffed according to "minimum defence frequency". So, if that's the case, what does his range have that will have him calling 55-60% of the time.
He'll be likely to have a low two pair or better that couldn't raise earlier in the hand, all of his 10s, and some bluff catching hands that block straights.
If we look at all the hands in villians range, we're going to win about 60% of the time.
But hey, you're asking... "What if they don't call down with that specific range?"
That's the nice part. If they call with fewer hands, you'll make less on your thin value bets, but more on your bluffs. And if they call down with more of their hands, you'll make more on your think value bets, but less on your bluffs.
That's where remembering what kinds of hands your oppononent will call on the river with, because it will allow you to adjust your thin value and bluffing frequency to match their expected action. If they fold too often, bluff more. If they call too much, bluff less and increase your value bets as well.
Tip 1: Value bet MUCH more against passive callers
If you're lucky enough to be playing against a loose calling station, you can really lower the quality of hands that can go for thin value.
If your opponent will call river bets with hands like [Kx][7x]on a [Tx][8x][7x][4x][3x]board, you can start value betting hands like [9x][9x]or [Ax][8x] on the flop, turn and river.
This can be a massive strategy change, since most of the time we'd be more inclined to check those medium strength hands on the flop, but it can also be a profitable change against players who call too often with weak hands.
On the other side of the coin, these are the types of players that you need to massively reduce your bluffing range because you're going to get called down a lot.
Tip 2: When in doubt, bet!
If you can't be sure that it's a good time for a thin value bet, just go ahead and do it. The biggest benefit, is that you'll get to know the others players tendancies far faster, which gives you more time to exploit them. You'll get a good idea of what their snap call, and tank call ranges are, and how they played those same hands on previous streets. This information is invluable.
You'll also build an agressive table image. Once other players view you as more agressive, you'll be able to exploit that with your stronger holdings.
And finally, you'll get more experience. Experience, and playing similar situations over and over again is so important in poker. Sure, you'll make some mistakes, but as long as you're learning from those mistakes, I prefer to think of them as "lessons".
Tip 3: Obvious draws which miss
When the board runs out and some obvious draws have missed, you can make thin value bets with a much higher frequency. Even most amateurs will notice that the draws have all missed, making them more inclined to think you may be bluffing with your missed draw.
Poker is a thinking mans game, with many situations where there isn't a specific "right" or "wrong" play. If you can improve in these questionable spots, you'll be a better player for it. Thin value betting is a perfect spot to start improving.