Size vs. Time

I read a comment on another thread that caused me to ponder another point. Which do you think is a more important skill to develop? Knowing the best TIME to bet/fold/call OR, knowing the best AMOUNT to bet?

I would note that I have already identified for myself a two-fold answer that is based upon whether you are playing poker virtually, or “cash” poker. I would also note that I see a distinct difference between tournament and cash games when considering the question.

As a tournament player, I would say time is more important.

Bet sizing is important. It lets you control pot odds and make it incorrect for your opponent to continue, and it will also allow you to extract maximum value when you have a hand. These are important, but mean nothing if you aren’t in the tournament.

Knowing when to call, bet, raise, or fold can keep you in the game, and you can’t win it if you aren’t in it.

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I think optimal bet sizing (“amount,” in @zmansuncle’s original post) is more important, because it requires a solid understanding of when to bet/fold/call. Let me provide an example.

Let’s imagine I’m at a loose, passive table, like most of those featured on this site. If there are going to be a ton of preflop callers, basically regardless of my bet sizing, then I’ll want to fold almost all of my hands, and bet extremely heavy when I do have a solid hand. If I’m calling too often, then on most boards I’m going to have no idea where I stand; if I do catch a healthy chunk of the flop, it may be difficult for me to get much further value. On the other hand, if I’m betting large too often, then I run the risk of getting called or raised by much better hands. Keeping my range tight influences my decision to bet big, and betting big means I have to keep my range tight.

Another example: With 100BB effective stacks at a 9-handed table, I followed the advice from above, betting 7x on the button facing 4 limpers. The big blind, UTG, and CO all call my large raise, resulting in a pot containing about 30BB after rake. The flop comes Kh 9s 2d, and it checks to me. What should I do? With such a disconnected board, I like c-betting with my entire range. However, if I bet the pot with my entire range, then my opponents can profitably call or check-raise whenever they have a king.

The bet size is too large to get calls from draws, since the only draws on this board are backdoor flushes which shouldn’t chase a pot-sized bet, or an inside straight draw (JT, QT, or QJ). Also, because of my raise size and relatively tight opening range, I’ll have more combinations of low-to-medium pocket pairs (possibly up to 30 combos if I open as loose as 44), TT-QQ (18), and suited aces without a king (anywhere from 4 to 16, depending on how tight you want to be) than 99 (3), KK (3), AA (6), or AK (12), leaving me in rough shape when I get called by a competitor with a king.

Betting small - in the realm of 20-30% pot, or 4-6BB - will garner folds from low suited connectors, aces that missed the flop, most low-to-mid pocket pairs, &c. If you check here, you might allow someone with weaker draws to start catching up (e.g. 67s having an OESD if an 8 comes on the turn). This could allow you to scoop the whole pot for cheap on the flop, picking up over 20BB with your entire range. Meanwhile, when you do have AK or 99, you’ll be able to get value from weaker kings.

Now, what if you only minbet here? Well, nobody should be folding, since just about everyone will have at least 3% equity against your range, even if the flop apparently missed them. All you’ve done is further bloated the pot.

Long story short, bet sizing requires an intimate understanding of the decision of whether to bet in the first place, and is therefore more important.

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I have no idea why you would think that makes it more important.

To me, that’s like saying, “Knowing how to drive is less important than knowing the fine points of a particular race track.” Dude, yer gonna crash and burn!

Knowing whether to check/fold or bet/raise might be worth 10BB per 100 hands at the 10-20 ring tables, while appropriately sizing your bets is worth 5BB per 100 hands at the 1K-2K ring tables. Which is more valuable?

Well, if we are just going to pull numbers out of the air, knowing when to bet, raise, call, or fold is worth 13 carrots and a crooked noodle, while bet sizing is worth an apricot and 4 almost rotten bananas.

I would rather survive than try to wring every last dime out of a hand. That’s my opinion, you have your’s. We can agree not to agree on this one.

Saying one thing is more important than another doesn’t cancel the importance of the other one… Just saying… :wink:

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, carrots and noodles and rotten bananas, it doesn’t matter… They’re all important :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

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Knowing when to bet/fold/call is more fundamental and more important, and it doesn’t really seem close to me.

To pick one example: if you’re facing a large bet on the river then knowing accurately whether to call or fold will have a huge impact on your winrate. On the other hand, choosing the most optimal bet size in a river situation will certainly improve your winrate, but it’s more of a marginal increase.

Another way to think about it: I can make a generally reasonable choice by always betting 2/3 pot whenever I bet. However, if I don’t know when to bet then betting a good amount isn’t going to help me. There’s not such a simple rule of thumb for deciding which action to take.


I agree that disagreeing can be agreeable if the disagreeing parties agree that the disagreement wasn’t agreed upon during the agreeable times needed to agree or disagree, but that the disagreeable agreement needed agreeable outlines of agreements and disagreements to be agreeable! Do you both agree?


While i do appreciate your vociferousness, I do wonder if you are trying to vituperate me!


I would have to go with size. The biccer the betta :slight_smile:

No, It was self serving, I Just can’t pass up “agree to disagree” without wanting to use those words repeatedly in any form or capacity possible. Call it my desideration, or fervor but, never was it intended to scold or berate. I like you and your off-kilter, atwitter, risible, almost abhorrent comments & retorts. And my answer to zman’s post is, It’s time & timing. If you know when to do all these things, even the wrong size amount is profit. You just might take longer getting there…

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size can most times give you a good time :slight_smile:

My question wasn’t ideal. I think what I really meant comes straight from Kenny Rogers. What do you think is more important, knowing WHEN to bet (as in how much), or knowing when to fold so you know you can play another hand?