As a general rule, our main focus in poker is to make as many profitable bets as possible and reduce our number of losing bets along the way. One of the best ways to measure this is with the concept of auto-profit bets.
An auto-profit bet is when your opponent folds too often given your bet size, and as a result, you make an immediate profit when betting with any two cards. This is also referred to as a bet being “outright profitable” or “immediately profitable.”
To hammer this concept home, let’s go through some examples and see how poker ranges, different bet and raise sizes, and some simple math can help us find more auto-profit opportunities at the table. Push play and/or read on…
To fully understand this concept, you need to first understand the breakeven percentage (BE%) of your bet and/or raise sizes. This is the lifeblood of finding profitable bluffs.
The Breakeven Percentage
The breakeven percentage (BE%) is the mathematical way of stating when a bet or a raise is outright 0 EV. If your opponent folds more often than the breakeven % you made an auto profit. If they fold less often than the breakeven %, your bluff will take an immediate loss.
And it’s that simple if you think about it. If you make a bet or a raise and you know the BE% of that bet, and you know your opponent’s going to fold, more often than your BE% you can find tons of easy bluffs.
This is a major focal point in my entire poker strategy. Looking for situations where my opponent is likely to fold too often given the size of my bet or raise. I’m looking to bluff that spot a tremendous amount of the time.
My cards don’t matter when they’re folding far too often. And there are tons of different bluff combinations within pretty much any single range, especially at earlier streets. It doesn’t take much time to memorize some of the BE% numbers. Then you can start saying “how does that compare to how often my opponent hits versus misses”.
When you can find these gaps where they’re folding too often given the size of common bets and raises. That is a lucrative situation for us. This is worth exploring in between sessions.
The BE% Formula
The major formula you need to know is:
Where $Risk is the size of your bet or raise, and the $Reward is the size of the pot before you bet or raise.
Then remember that auto profit means they’re folding more often than that breakeven percentage. Let’s go over an example from The Preflop & Math Workbook.
Pot size before you bet = $60
Bet sizes = $20, $40, $60
There are two things that we’re factoring in for each bet size
- The breakeven percentage
- The percentage of the pot.
20 into 60 is 1/3 pot. 40 into 60 is 2/3 pot. 60 into 60 is a full pot.
So now let’s start ripping through and doing a BE%. So again, remember, BE% = risk / (risk + reward).
So the risk for a $20 bet is $20 it’s the size of our bet, and then the reward is the $60 pot we’re fighting for.
So 20/(20+60) = 20/80 = 25%.
This is a number you want to have memorized because 1/3pot is a bet size that you can use in a lot of different situations. So if you understand this that can be extremely useful.
Let’s do $60 real quick just because it’s an easy one. So you’re risking 60 to win 60.
60/(60+60) = 60/120 = 50%
And 2/3 is another one of these that we want to have memorized.
40/(60+40) = 40/100 = 40%
So one thing we can use is my breakeven percentage calculator which you can download as a free spreadsheet here. We can plug all the numbers into this calculator.
And by the way, you can check all of this with the answer key that’s included with the workbook.
And again, when it comes to breakeven percentage if you can memorize a couple of the basics, we’re going to start understanding the patterns. And notice it doesn’t matter what the flop is or what your hole cards are. All we’re looking at is the size of the bet and the size of the pot to figure out the BE%.
So if you can remember common bet sizes like 1/3 pot, 2/3 pot, and full pot, you can round bet sizes that are more tricky to calculate in real-time.
A bet of 50 into a 60 pot is a lot more complicated. But you know it’s in between 2/3 pot and full pot. So I know that number is going to be somewhere between 40 and 50%, if nothing else that’s a great ballpark that most people can’t even get to.
So it gives you a starting point for figuring out okay what is the baseline for finding an auto profit situation here. Can my opponent fold that often? And this is the starting point for really starting to figure that out.
To answer the question of “is this bet or raise auto-profitable?” you simply compare the BE% of your size and your opponent’s estimated folding frequency.
If the BE% = 25% and the folding % = 75%, then this is going to be, auto profitable. Yes, no questions about that.
The folding percentage is higher than the BE% and as such, auto profitable.
This essentially means every single bluff combo in my range is incentivized to bluff because it’s auto profitable. It doesn’t matter what my hole cards are. All of those bets are going to be auto profitable because my opponent is folding too often given my bet size.
Now it doesn’t mean that I necessarily want to fire all of them, especially thinking about mistakes that could be made on future streets. But the higher their fold percentage gets, the more incentivized you are to bluff.
Practicing With Automatically Profitable Bets
And that’s how you can start tying these two things together. So if you do this kind of exploration you start to memorize what are the common BE% for different bets and raises that you make consistently.
Rather than guessing if your bluffs will work, you can start saying, “Okay, this is a good spot to bluff, or maybe this is a terrible spot to bluff”. This is important information to have in your back pocket. And the good news is that work like this can be focused and done between sessions.
If you are interested in doing more work like this, pick up your copy of my workbook and do more exercises. Or, jump ahead to my intermediate-advanced Postflop Poker Workbook and look at even more auto-profit spots when floating, barreling, jamming rivers.
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