Over-betting the pot actually has two different meanings. The most obvious is when you bet more than the current size of the pot – hence, “over-betting” the pot size. You can thereafter, claim bonus money or this can go against your advantage, depending on the circumstances. The second meaning is more intricate, having to do with betting more than the Pot Odds or Expected Value would call for.
We’ll cover the basic definition of “Over Betting the Pot” first, as it is much easier to understand. Betting more than the pot currently holds should only be done in two circumstances.
- When you have the nuts or are fully confident you will win the pot.
- When you have observed your opponent’s behavior enough to feel confident about bluffing. Generally, when a player over bets the pot, all other players will Fold without a strong hand.
The second description of “Over Betting the Pot” is defined by a player who bets entirely too many chips without the hand strength to back it up. If you’ve read the previous articles on Pot Odds, Expected Values, and Value Bets, (if not, please read them first!) you already know how to determine what an appropriate Value Bet would be. To bet any amount higher is over-betting the pot.
The problem with over-betting the pot in this way is that the player is turning what could have been a Value Bet, well worth the risk on a moderately strong hand, into a Bluffing situation. Unless your opponents easily succumb to Bluff bets, the chips will likely be lost.
If you can figure out your opponents’ behavioral patterns, it is possible to make a profit by over-betting the pot, but again, you are essentially profiting on a bluff more than anything else. By having a semi-strong hand, this becomes a Semi-Bluff, rather than a full-on bluff, but a bluff nonetheless.
Before making such a move, you must get into your opponent’s head. Take notice of what kind of hands he is calling on. Does he call 50% of all Raises, regardless of his own hand, or does he only call a Raise with top pair or better? These kinds of players are the easiest to scare out of a hand by over-betting the pot.
If you’re up against an opponent that folds before or after the Flop without strength – known as a “tight” player and commonly associated with most poker pros – and he’s called to the River, you’re not likely to win in such a case. Evaluate your Pot Odds and do not over-bet the pot, or you’ll be watching from the rails before you know it.
It should be noted that over-betting the pot only becomes an issue in No Limit and Pot Limit poker games. If playing Fixed Limit, the betting structure is too tightly defined, and typically results in forced under betting of the pot. For this reason, most professional poker players avoid Fixed Limit poker games, preferring the unrestricted betting system of No Limit poker.