Making sure you properly size your bet is important in any game you’re playing in, but it’s especially true in tournaments, where every chip you have is critical to you survival and success. A lot of people tend to think that if they raise before the flop, then they must bet the flop. More importantly, they must bet large if they missed the flop and want their opponent to fold. While it’s important to keep your bet sizing fairly consistent between your missed flops, and the flops you connect on, you don’t need to always bet a large portion of the pot.
The act of betting is typically more important than the size of your bet. People have been slowly catching on to this fact as years have gone on. When I first published this article in 2007, people still weren’t getting this.
In tournaments, it’s best to make smaller sized bets than you do in cash games, because it benefits you more to take many small stabs at pots, rather than take a few large stabs. If you consistently keep your flop bets the same, but bet more flops, you’ll stand to win more, while risking less. This may seem pretty basic in a lot of ways, but I see A LOT of players making really large bets (when they likely have nothing), when just making a 1/2 pot bet on the flop would have accomplished the same thing. Typically in tournaments, most opponents will be more careful in what hands they invest their chips into. You stand to win more by applying constant pressure, but risking less with smaller sized flop bets. If you are called on the flop, then you can make a decision based on your opponent, and the texture of the flop, whether your opponent is weak or strong. If a turn bet doesn’t commit you or your opponent to the pot, then this is the best spot to make a good sized bet and take the pot down.
Some simple advice for players who typically pot bet paired boards, don’t do it. Most people know that a paired board likely didn’t hit anyone. If it’s checked to you and you have air, then bet 1/2 the pot. This is typically what you’d do if you actually had a hand, and you’ll stand to win more of these pots, while again, risking less. Either your opponent(s) have something, or they don’t, or they’ll try and make a play at you. The size of the bet isn’t as important as the action of betting. So make smaller bets in these situations, and watch your profits increase