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Inside the Mind of a Pro | Overbetting the River
Overbetting the river is one of the most extreme ways of applying pressure to an opponent. As always, we shall delve into a session I just played where two spots came up that showcased this line. One of these was for value and the other one a bluff. It's always nice to be capable of using a certain bet-size with different strengths of hand in different situations as long as you have a solid argument for the play being good.

Hand 1 – Overbetting for Value

There are two reasons to overbet for value. The first is a theoretical reason. In theory, a value overbet is a good idea when you have a hand which makes it quite likely for Villain to hold a second-best hand. Having bottom set on a king-high board, for example, leaves a lot of Kx in the deck, whereas, holding KK here makes it much harder for a larger bet to get paid off. The other reason for overbetting for value is an exploitative one: you have picked up a read somehow that Villain is likely to pay off really large bets. The following hand satisfies both the theoretical and exploitative conditions.

At $100NL Zoom ($0.5/$1) I find myself in the SB with . J5o is a hand that I have somehow won a few big pots with recently! It's folded to me and the player in the BB is a nitty opponent running stats of 23/14, meaning that he probably plays too few hands and plays them too passively. Finding a steal here is part of a healthy pre-flop game and so I raise to $2.70.

The flop ($5.40) is and I decide to make a 1/3rd pot c-bet of $1.59. This opponent is not particularly likely to bluff me if he has missed here, so, instead of checking, I elect to make a bet that can get called by a lot of weaker pairs and A-high. If Villain calls, I plan to start sizing up on the turn to target his Kx hands.

The villain does call and the turn ($8.54) brings the . I carry out my plan and fire an overbet bet of $11. Villain's call to this bet can only be described as lightning fast. What does this mean? It means he is incredibly unlikely to hold a nutted hand like 5x or a full house, and similarly, very unlikely to hold a hand weaker than Kx. His call was so automatic that both folding and raising were not even on his radar. What does this mean for the river?

Unless the texture changes significantly (eg. An ace or diamond falls) it is incredibly unlikely that Villain will fold to a bet. Therefore, bluffing the river would be a terrible idea. Fortunately, I happen to hold a nutted hand, and so, all that is left to decide upon on the river is my sizing. The pot stands at $30.58. Here I choose to maximize my expectation by making a very big bet. I make it $34. This overbet is optimal in theory as I have a hand that does not block his Kx holdings. The bet is great in practice as it maximizes earnings from a range that is very unlikely to fold based on his turn timing.

Lo and behold – Villain calls instantly and mucks . The hand has been a success for me. Villain's turn timing really helped to clarify the best river sizing to use.

Hand 2 - Overbetting as a Bluff

This next hand is a weird one. I find myself in the SB with . UTG, who is a decent regular, opens to $2.22, and HJ, another decent reg, 3-Bets to $6.66. While I could 4-Bet here, it would be uncomfortable to have to stack off against these positions and I am getting a very reasonable price to call so I elect to do so. UTG somehow manages to fold his hand at these pot odds and we go heads-up to the flop.

The flop is ($16.04) . This is a very ugly board for me. My plan is simply to fold to a flop c-bet against what should be quite a strong range. It goes check, check. Villain's range at this point is less likely to contain hands like AK or TT and more likely to be composed of [AA, AQ, AJ, KK, QQ], etc. My showdown value against this range is garbage.

The turn ($16.04) is the . I decided to check again for free information. The villain will probably refrain from betting a hand like KK or a poor Ace here. If he does bet, I expect his range to be unbalanced towards value hands like [AA, QQ, AQ]. I plan to fold to a bet, but again it goes check-check.

The river ($16.04) is the . My green jack is useful for blocking hands like and . Moreover, I have effectively a 0% chance of winning this pot by checking. Villain's most likely holding now is definitely KK, but some Ax is certainly possible too. While I suspect that these hands will likely not call a large bet, I feel almost certain that they will fold to an overbet, especially a huge one. Thinking exploitatively, I choose to overbet a size I would never dream of using for value in this spot. I make it $31. This bet needs to work just less than two-thirds of the time to make a profit. I think it will work much more frequently than that. Villain folds quickly and I reap the satisfaction of spotting a chance to turn a losing hand into a profitable bluff.


Over-betting the river is a fun tool to add to your arsenal, but it should not be used without the proper knowledge.
Have you ever tried this overbetting tactic?
Share your experience below.

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