Balancing Shmalancing

  • Written by 286 Comments
    Last Updated: March 26, 2012

    When I make a decision on any given street in any given hand it is almost always as if it is in a vacuum. In general there is no need to balance in MTTs, or perhaps more accurately; any balancing that is required is done naturally.
    When faced against any player when I am value betting a hand I ask myself “what is the perfect number to gain me maximum value from this street and future streets”. This question is still the same regardless of whether I am playing against a random or someone I play against daily. This perhaps seems obvious, but it is a point that is lost on many mtt grinders. Too often they will half pot it to death versus some unknown when this player would have called a ¾ pot sized bet on 3 streets the same frequency as a half pot bet, or for that matter a 1/3 pot sized bet.
    Then this same grinder will bet half pot on the river as a bluff versus some reg they think they have meta game with because “that’s what I would bet if I had it”.
    Whilst there is obviously logic behind this thinking, it is too general and normally foolish. When you are bluffing and when you are value betting you are trying to accomplish two very different goals, so why would you ever choose the same sized bet to accomplish both? Surely if you think a bet looks like a value bet to this reg then that is a size you could use for a bluff, and if you think a bet looks like a bluff to this reg then that is a possible size to use for value.
    You can argue that balancing comes in the next time you’re in a similar spot vs the same reg, but similar spots that go to showdown versus the same reg don’t appear that often in mtts, and moreover there should be no need to manually balance as it should be accomplished automatically when you ask yourself the question “how will my opponent view my bet sizing?”. When answering this question you draw information from previous hands you have played against this opponent and your knowledge of their general tendencies. The conclusion you come to should almost always be that a different sized bet is required for a bluff than would be required for value in that exact spot.


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