Progressive Bet Sizing

The principles of progressive bet sizing will help you grasp how to bet throughout the various streets of action and maximize your winnings. Understanding how this concept works allows you to see how your bets in early stages of the hand impact your ability to maneuver in later streets.


Think of progressive bet sizing as the actualized embodiment of the ripple effect in poker. The way you size your bets early in the hand will influence the rate at which the pot grows and ultimately, how much you stand to win - if you win the hand, of course. 

Understanding a few basic principles of progressive bet sizing will help you grasp how to bet throughout the various streets of action in order to maximize your potential winnings come the river - and it doesn't just influence it a little. The monetary rewards of knowing about progressive betting sizing are monumental. This is because your opponent(s) must match every single chip you put into the pot, so even if you are only up against one other opponent, a pot sized bet by you will actually triple the current pot size, since, as I mentioned, your opponent has to match your bet.

The Ripple Effect in Action
Progressive bet sizing - effective progressive bet sizing - means that our bets will increase exponentially. This is because you will usually be making 1/2 to full-sized bets in each round of betting and as a result, the sizes of your bets from round to round are connected because the amount of each bet is influenced by the previous betting round(s). 

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This chart is based on raising 3BB pre-flop and then betting the full pot size on the subsequent streets of action. As you can see 75% of your winnings come from that single bet on the river. 

Even the tiniest alteration to the size of your early bets will have a massive impact on the size of the final pot, and by extension, how much you will want to bet on the river. Poor judgment on your flop bet means you're effectively screwing yourself out of value in the end. Hence, why progressive bet sizing is important if you want to make the most out of every single hand.

2 Simple Tips for Effective Progressive Bet Sizing

1. Small river bets are more likely to get called - and if you want progressive bet sizing to work for you, you WANT to get called (assuming you actually have a decent hand, of course). Getting called funnels more money into the pot, and more money means...well, more money!

2. Assess your opponent's stack. You want to know how much they've got to work with because YOU want to get most of it in the pot by the end of fifth street.  One way to ensure you can do this is by snagging 1/3 of your opponent's stack before you even hit the river. Again, this is why progressive bet sizing is so crucial; you are going to have to lay the groundwork early on. 

Why 1/3?

Let's say your opponent starts with $60. 1/3 of this stack is $20, leaving them with $40. The pot is also at $40, since we've matched our opponent`s bet with $20. The pot and our opponent's remaining stack size are therefore equal. Now, you don't have to get the whole third in at once; you can do it across the flop and the turn - you just want to get it in. Once you have it, your opponent is just facing one pot sized bet and presto - the rest of their stack is totally cleaned out.

Progressive bet sizing is an advanced extension of bet sizing that relies on your thinking about the hand in its entirety before you even make your first move. You need to establish a solid footing at the start of the hand so you can get the most value on the river – and if you want to play winning poker, you are always going to want to make sure you are trying to get the best value. 

Photo Credit: Charles Williams | Flickr