My bet sizing keeps getting ruined by excessive callers

Recently I’ve been having trouble at every table I go to. I will place a bet that I crafted explicitly to drive off wheel/flush draws, but then too many people call it and the bet is ruined. For example:

Pot is 100. I flopped top pair with a good kicker, but there are two hearts.
To drive off the flush draw, I bet 80% of pot. Theoretically, this should price out a draw, but almost always, two or more people make the call, and then the flush draws are priced in. Then it turns out the initial callers had rags, or maybe a low pair.

I don’t really want to have to massively overbet the pot, just in case someone flops a monster. How else should I approach flopping top pair, when there’s draws on the table?

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I’ll be eager to hear what others say since it’s a burning question for me too.

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I will also be interested in answers to this. Currently, my rule of thumb is to bet whatever I think “a rational caller” will think is just a little bit too much. Usually that means either a half-pot bet or a whole pot bet or raise. If I’m lucky enough to have the current lock, I may bet more just to prevent callers or make them pay a price they won’t want to pay. I seldom go all in without the absolute nuts. My currently favorite game is Omaha High-Low, so sometimes I “win” by getting quartered, which is really a loss. Just a hazard of the game. Good luck. Ron P. (Alan25main)

I really only play NL MTT’s so my advice may not be helpful and Im definitely not an expert lol

While the blinds are low I play positional ABC poker and catch them with good cards while raising 3x the blinds, As the blinds go up if they still continue to call anything I start raising 5x pre flop then and start weeding them out. Once I have a good table presence I notice when I raise into a hand they tend to play their hands better, once the table starts playing smartly my bets go back down to normal and I wind up having a good game with rational players.

Sometimes I may even just push (all-in) but thats not very often because I don’t want to incite (hope I spelled this right?) a table full of maniacs.

Anyway Im fairly new but this is what I do, hope it helps? (weather right or wrong :))


I like the strategy, managing table presence is pretty important for online poker, where you have to let your bets speak for you.
Here, though, I’m specifically talking about post-flop, when I’ve flopped good cards, and want to bet off draws without putting myself at too much risk.

Good freaking luck. See other threads like “calling stations” and such. You have people who will call their stacks off on maybe 3 outs. Lots of people are playing pot control and betting big on the river if no draws get there but this does not seem like a great strategy. On the other hand, you will almost certainly get paid on the river so there’s that to look forward to.

Anyone figures these things out should get a Nobel Prize in psychology.

Don’t mind me - I’m grumpy - running cold, playing worse and being sucked out on more than Bill Clinton in his prime.

Well there are 2 options I see (not sure if they are right?)

  1. If it’s a rainbow flop put pressure on them to fold, chances are if they have rags you’ll get paid off, (more pressure every street).

  2. make the bets smaller after a flop (if there’s a flush draw), and after the turn for equity when they miss to the river 1/2 pot 3/4 pot make’em pay.

That’s what I would do and I don’t know if this is right? But if I stick to what I said in the first reply this usually doesn’t need to be an option because they would fold as i become increasingly aggressive.

Some will call with trash and I’m ok getting it all in good because I’ll win more than they will, once my stack is healthy I’ll take the risk of knocking out those who want to play rags.

Maybe someone else has some better advice (who’s probably more experienced).

@1Warlock Don’t worry my friend it will turn around!!!

It always turns around - sometimes it just is rough. Had a few more weird ones. I’m talking very low probability hands meeting up. Another Q’s meeting A’s, K-high flush beaten on river by guy holding the A and an unsuited rag, Q’s raised 5xBB and called out of position by 5/6o who hit 2 pair on the flop, …

There are evenings when you make donks pay and other evenings when they seem to gather in herds and stampede over everyone. This was one of the nights when I started all nice and happy and wound up face down in the dust with donkey tracks up and down my back :slight_smile:

To borrow from pop culture - “Odds? We don’t need no stinking odds!”

Expecting players on here to respect the odds is wishful thinking…but the flip side is that they frequently give you excellent odds for your draw…

Bet sizing is a huge issue in all levels of poker (maybe I should make a new thread). Players on Replay always seem to want to fold out draws, but I would rather have my opponents call bets with worse hands and try to improve rather than making everyone fold and not winning any more chips. That doesn’t mean you should allow your opponents to draw for cheap, there is a lot more complexity involved. But my main point is this: players calling too often with draws or marginal hands can be easily exploited, so try to forget about the times that they get lucky and focus on how you can beat them in the long run.

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in the base line, i think the 80% bet is really fine. but i would also consider stacksizes, amount of opponents and player image.

stacksize: when you’re 20 BB’s or less it would be a shove. 20-30 i would IP reshove if given the chance, if not i would still make the big bet like u did unless you’re committed then i would still shove. OOP it really depends on your opponent, loose opponent’s i would try a check raise shove (hoping they would bet) and to tight opponents i would make the 80% bet (if they are really tight you could even consider a fold to a raise) 30-50 i would stick to the bet in most cases and adapt after to the image and actions they take. 50BB’s or more would be pretty much the same except that you have more information to fold if it comes to that.
as for the choices to check raise (don’t do this unless very good reason for it since betting is best in general) and it’s checked back try to decide the turn the same way and bet big without a 3rd heart. and decide the situation again if the 3rtd one does come.

amount of opponents: in general, the more opponents the bigger the bet, if with one opponent, you could even consider slowplaying the flop since the chances of a flush are very low, and if it’s a loose player he might even pay you off with middle/low pair. still be careful however ifthe 3rd one comes. with more opponents it would be without doubt a bet since there are just too many scare cards. if there are really much opponents, you should always bet no matter the stacksizes, except for one thing, and that is if there is a super loose opponent of which you’re practically sure you can check raise him with the best hand.

image of opponents: if they like to call any kinds of draws no matter the odds like you said, it would be without oubt a big bet as played. when we have people who like to raise with any kind of weakness shown (like checking) a slowplay and check raise can be a good idea. with tighter opponents a bet is also a good idea since they won’t play it anyway unless they get/have a card that beats you, so bet but be careful to a raise.

but the general rule would be the way like you played it, the betsize is good and will get you the +EV and your opponents the -EV.

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Joe - I think part of the problem relates to the huge number of multi-way pots being played. Say you raise a pot pre-flop from early and get 3 callers. Its early in an MTT or its a ring game and everyone is deep. You have pocket Q’s and the board comes out 5/6/10 with 2 clubs and you have none. You have several straight draws out there plus the flush draw, plus A5, A6 and A10 looking for that 2nd pair. You also have to consider 55, 66 and 10 as flat calling the opening raise. SB leads out for a minimum, BB calls and now its on you (with 1 to act afterwards).

Ideally, I would want to narrow the field here because I am not going to survive a 4-way pot with a draw-heavy board. However, I cant just jam a pot+ bet with an over-pair because I may already be drawing to 2 outs on any flopped set and chances are you are never going to fold out the nut-flush draw if its out there, no matter the price you try to extract. I also don’t want to bloat the pot and face worse decisions on the next street if I get 2-3 callers to whatever bet I put out there now.

So, how do you size your bet to balance protecting your equity without over protecting or falling for a possible trapping flopped set?

Another issue for me is the lack of feedback I seem to get, regardless of the bet size put out there. I get a lot of flat calling or folding, not much else. Doesn’t do a lot to help me narrow ranges.


I luv ur example Warlock, I also have a issue with my play as late… me offering advice seems, sceptical @ best… that being said, it now depends alot on which table ur at (ring), what stage ur in (mtt), current stack sizes on table, who is controlling those stacks, and familiararity with said players … more than it does 3x or 5x(bb). While the math in any situation is static, everything else @ the table is dynamic…

In Warlock’s example… normal bet sizing is wrong here, because ur already out of posistion… you aren’t 1st or last to act, and ur gett’n squeezed as is… I see 2 “ok” options, and a lot of crappy ones… either flat call, or snap min raise … I guess folding is not an option in this example, and I’ll vote here for the flat call.

I have always wondered about flat callers, and sometimes it can be more worrysome than a small raise’r… I think many people could write a book on " So, you bet out preflop and miss’d the flop… now what? "

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This is a well known problem known as “fish schooling,” for which I have never really seen a good solution. The basic idea is that, if enough loose-passive players make bad calls to chase, they can become “good” calls because the pot odds keep getting better as more players come in.

For example, if you bet the pot, the next player is getting 2-1 on a call. If they call, the next player gets 3-1, the next 4-1, the next 5-1. By the time the next player calls, EVERYONE will have gotten 6-1 on their calls.

If you find yourself on that kind of table, there’s not a lot you can do about it. Of course, if you’re in a ring game, you can always find another table, but in a tournament it’s sometimes better to bet less on the flop on draw-heavy boards, then make your bigger bet on the turn if the draws miss. (This kind of player will often call a flop bet, but fold to a turn bet) This can sometimes limit the field to get things back on track without risking too much of your stack.

This is obviously not an ideal solution.


I wrote several really long responses, but deleted them because they were all over the place and revealed a little too much of my thinking. These multiway pots are really a tricky, but critical, part of winning on Replay.

Those players are trying to minimize risk by playing passively and getting priced into pots (as are limpers), so the best approach is to be unexploitable too. Some players will blast the pot to try to price out these draws, but that is a huge mistake when all you have is QQ or AA and your opponents could have two pair or a set. If your raising range is JJ+, AQ then your opponents have an incentive to call and create these multiway pots against you because they can tell easily whether or not you have hit the board and they know they can win a big pot against you because you have a big hand. But if you open a wider range of hands you can connect with many different boards, opponents do not have the same incentive to call because they might not get any more out of you, and you can more easily fold your big pairs when that third club hits and your opponent has a monster because you have stronger parts of your range. In your example, my opening range would contain 56s, 55, 66, 87s, TT, or many combos containing 2 clubs, which I would all bet the same way I would bet QQ. So, I can bet QQ to get value from all of the worse hands that will call (it is a great flop for QQ and there are many worse hands that will call), while at the same time being able to fold when the draws come in or my opponents go crazy because I know there will be better spots.

Basically, make the pot bigger when your range/hand is ahead of your opponents’ range, don’t go crazy unless your hand is already close to the nuts, and be willing to fold when it looks like your opponents’ range has caught up.

This may raise the fear of getting bluffed because you are able to fold big hands, but bluffs have to be well executed (which they rarely are) and it is hard to bluff someone who has the nuts in their range on almost every possible board.

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Joe - great response and thanks for it. People get a little weird about discussing their thinking but that is everyone’s right. Galak posted a piece with Fedor Holz a little while ago. Holz was one of the top minds in the game and was constantly discussing theory very openly. He believed in improving the game as a whole and contributed his thoughts to the pool. I respect both sides of this coin - so long as people are thinking and improving, publicly or privately, they get respect from me.

I agree especially about opening ranges. I’m shocked at how many calls I get because people assume every raise is Ax. When I flip over 10Js or 44 or something, that nutted the flop, you can almost see a cartoon bubble question mark appear over some people’s heads. I had a hand a while back where I opened in the cutoff with 44. BB is the only call. Flop of A4K rainbow. He checks, I bet 1/2 pot and he check-raises to all-in. I snap call and I swear you could hear his head explode that I was on a set of 4’s. Never once occurred to him that I had anything but Ax. He of course was on AK.

So, a great move is to open your range. The issue we have a lot here is in what I’d lightly call a defending range. As SPG has noted, that 1st flat-call may be from a range with certain odds but each successive call then can be from a wider range because the odds keep shifting. By the time the 4th or 5th caller flats, 80% of all hands are priced to call. You are now playing against a range that includes pretty much everything, and this assumes the people calling actually aren’t looser than standard.

Opening wider with the willingness to make good lay downs is solid. I discussed on another thread laying down A’s last night in a multiway pot rather than getting stubborn and being stacked as a result.

Fedor is amazing, and I have been a subscriber of Doug Polk’s YouTube channel for a while and I have learned a ton from his videos. Part of what makes them good (and more free to discuss their strategy) is the GTO aspect of their games that makes them very difficult to exploit. That is what I am trying to learn (and related to the strategy suggested in my previous post).

You are completely correct about the “fish schooling” that these players are priced in by other players calling, but similarly my bet sizing on later streets may price in draws. If you play your game and don’t worry about the monsters in the closet (or that the game is rigged) and the idea that somebody flops a set against you every time, you will profit. The approach taken by these players puts them in far more tricky postflop situations (e.g., low two pair hands, small flushes, etc.), and they are not usually good enough to make these types of decisions, so they lose value when they hit by playing in an obvious way and make too many passive calls with mediocre hands. You can’t win em all, but you will win in the long run.


Plus, you have an implied odds advantage against most of these players (assuming they wouldn’t just call if they had premium hands like QQ+, AK, which would be another mistake if they did). If the flop comes 56Q, you are more likely to have QQ than they are, so even when they do hit their set of 55 or 66 they could lose their stack to your QQ, where you do not face that risk. If they hit their flush with 7T of clubs you could easily have AK or KQ or JT of clubs (plus many other bigger flushes potentially). In the long run, this adds up to more value from an ABC poker approach than their passive approach.

Agreed again but implied odds are a subject for another day and another thread. I’m almost positive that the far wider range of hands limped / played here is directly related to the implied odds (whether or not the people playing them know it). When players are willing to get their stacks in on top pair, meh kicker, then the implied odds for a huge range of hands makes them worth playing, so long as you can lay them down when they don’t connect and your opponents range does. If you are likely to get paid huge for 2-pair or better, why not take as many peeks at flops as you can? Of course, when everyone is doing this, it becomes a demolition derby, not a poker game but there it is.

I kinda think of it differently ( yeah , ur shocked )… when a player opens up the betting preflop, I treat this as “they like thier hand”, not “they have AK” … if while playing, the only hands “they like” are AK, then that must be factored in… you also have to be aware of posistion betting and other reasons for ppl to bet… and yes each consecutive call just prices more ppl in still to bet, but it also should price in a bigger hand make that 2-bet…

If a table of 9 wants to keep playing limp poker, either 2-3 ppl take a stand and force them out… or you do what romans do when in rome, and it gets crazier…