It’s obvious to those of us who’ve been around a while that although you can’t influence the cards you get, and you can’t change the players you’re up against, the one thing you should always be master over is what you do with your money.
The rubes out often there seem to have less sense than beasts on the field, either betting heavy or plucking figures out of the air when they place their bets. It’s confusing and it may win them the odd hand, but poker is a long haul game – not a sprint. Random betting will bust you out sooner or later (and I’d bet on sooner).
At the lower levels, betting random amounts is just irresponsible and at higher levels it puts you up at a disadvantage. Poker is a game where every advantage should be grabbed and made to work for you. A little thought, and the laying of properly sized bets, can give you the edge over your competition.
Before sizing your poker bet, ask, “What am I doing with my money?” Am I spending it to increase the pot, am I bluffing, is it a value bet, or is it just supposed to frighten off the opposition? Each gambit has its own value. If you’re trying to make your opponent fold, the golden rule is “bet as little as possible to get the job done”. All In might seem like the easiest bet and the simplest number to remember, but All Ins are easily recognisable and carry the added danger of a failed bluff, which will wipe you out. Don’t be mean but remember that a half- to two-thirds-pot bet will just as often get the fold you’re after while risking less chips.
Don’t become a slave to the numbers in poker. Add enough variety to your bets so that you don’t telegraph your plans to your opponents – you don’t want to make the exact same bet in the exact same circumstances every time.
Finally, if you’ve spent all night carefully sizing your bets then you might consider throwing in a curve ball random amount – it’ll cause more than a ripple of chaos as it’s out of character. Provided, of course, you have already established sufficient character. And character (like money) must be earned.