Leveraging Your Bets

Posted by David Cowell on August 13, 2010 at 11:33 GMT

Leveraging your betting in Texas Hold´em means placing a bet that implies you will be increasing your betting activity in stages all the way through to the final rounds of the hand, and makes an opponent hesitate when calling your bet because he has to calculate how much it is going to cost him to see you all the way to the river.

By constantly applying leverage and making other players make marginal decisions, you give yourself the opportunity to win more pots on the flop or turn with minimal risk to yourself.

The theory behind leveraging is to place just a modest post-flop bet, which you subsequently increase by a multiplying “factor” after the turn, and by that same “factor” after the river. It is okay to give away the figure by which you are multiplying your bets, as it will enable your opponents to calculate the commitment they will have to make if they want to stay in the hand.

The multiplying “factor” is determined by how many people are in the hand after the flop, and works like so:-

You are playing $0.50/$1.00 No Limit Hold´em, and after the flop there is only yourself plus one other player in the hand. If you bet just $4.00, this is not in itself a particularly discouraging amount to the player who is still with you. But, if you increase that bet by three after the turn (calculated because there are two of you still in the game + 1) and then three again after the river, the total amount your opponent is going to have to put into the pot just to see you is ($4 + $12 + $36) $52, or more than fifty times the big blind.

This is why the implication of bet leverage is so powerful. If your opponent felt he had a fifty dollar hand after the flop, he would have raised you, rather than call your $4.00 bet. In fact by picking an unusual amount to raise by, you advertise the fact that you are going to produce this strategy, and it may help you win marginal hands without going to showdown.

Once you have shown that you use this tactic, you can bring it out strategically again. Let´s say that this  time there are three other players in the pot, and your post flop bet is $4.00 once more. This time, your bet after the turn would be $4.00 x (four players in the hand +1) =$20.00. This is going to set everybody thinking that if you increased you bet by five last time, is your next bet going to be $100.00? They will strongly have to reflect on whether they want to commit that much money to the pot to see your hand, and unless they are holding the absolute nuts, should fold.

Leveraging works best in deep stacked situations against tight or conservative opponents once you have already established a precedent for this type of betting . Even if you are not confident about using leverage, it is good to be aware what the concept consists of, in case you should discover somebody using it against you!