Pot Control is a skill that I am slowly working to master and although its tough, its essential for me especially because in the level I am playing, my opponents are very loose and can call raises with junk and I don't want to trap my preflop monster in a river disaster.

 

 

 

Pot Control can mean a lot of things to a lot of people, to me it is keeping the Pot at the size I want it to be based on the hand that I have.

The first thing we need to understand is that betting is typically done as a fraction/percent of the current Pot and making a bet outside of this will give tells on our hand as well as reduce value.

The classic example of this is the under or over bet. An under bet is when a pot is quite chunky, say 1000 chips and your opponent bets 100 chips into it. This typically shows weakness and gives a big tell. Some people use this as a bluff for that purpose but either way, if your hand is strong and you don't think your opponent will fall for the trap, you lose value.

The overbet is when the Pot is say 200 chips and your opponent bets 500 chips. Woooaaaah!! - With this your opponent is either trying to buy the pot with a weak hand as a bluff or a drawing hand as a semi-bluff or he has a monster and thinks he should bet big to win big. Most decent players without something to challenge their opponent with can fold here because it screams of big-hand, bad-value.

So, most of the time we want to bet a percent of the pot. My method which I took from a PSO community leader was 1/2 pot for 1 opponent, 2/3 for 2 opponents, 3/4 for 3 opponents or a full pot for 4+ opponents.

However a mistake I have made many times before is to hit a big pair (AA) and 2/3 it with 2 opponents, 1 folds. On the turn I don't even look at the situation and just bet out 1/2 pot which is called, river comes and I bet 1/2 pot, opponent raises and I call. He shows two pair and I lost.

In this scenario, I raised preflop with 2.5BB, SB and BB call, pot is 7.5BB when the flop comes.

On the flop I bet 2/3 pot for 5BB, one folds and one calls, pot is now 17.5BB

On the turn I bet 1/2 pot for 9BB, opp calls, pot is now 35.5BB

On the river I bet 1/2 pot for 18BB, opp raises x2 my raise for 36BB

If i call : I could be behind, have spent 52.5BB to showdown and will lose (but wont know that until i call)

If i fold : I could be behind, have spent 34.5BB but made a laydown I feel would save me much more chips

 

Now lets say I bet the same but just checked the turn.

In this scenario, I raised preflop with 2.5BB, SB and BB call, pot is 7.5BB when the flop comes.

On the flop I bet 2/3 pot for 5BB, one folds and one calls, pot is now 17.5BB

On the turn I check, opp bets 9BB for 1/2 pot and I call, pot is now 35.5BB

On the river I got some information on my opponent and his bet on the turn was strong, I still think I could be ahead but I check again, opp value bets 1/3 the pot for 12BB and I now have two choices.

If i call : I could be behind, have spent 28.5BB to showdown and will lose (but wont know that until i call)

If i fold : I could be behind, have spent 16.5BB but made a laydown I feel would save me much more chips

So if you compare both scenarios, I pretty much saved myself 50% in chips by not making one bet, I also got a lot of information on my opponent which I wouldn't get by just firing at him and him calling.

What I did here with Pot Control was protect my strong but not dominating hand against being outdrawn or being up against a cooler. I can either get away very cheap or I can showdown for much less risk.

 

Now, if I was the one with two pair, that is a different story, I would want the Pot to bloat higher and higher for as much as possible and get my opponent to stack off.

 

In the long-run by playing like this, I am planning to win small pots with strong but not dominating hands and win big pots with dominating hands.

 

What I would dislike but can accept is losing a big pot with a dominating hand (suffering to a suckout)

What I would dislike and can never accept is losing a big pot with a strong but not dominating hand and being beaten from early on.

 

A lot of players (and its something I have done a lot before as well) ship it in early with a nice pair and risk losing everything to double-up. Unless you are short, why risk a 100BB stack on a pair?? Risk it on a set of course!!

 

Its not difficult and it to me is the same difference as horse racing.

Why would I bet my entire bankroll on a longshot, even one I think I have a good tip on.

Instead, why not build an accumulator bet of strong horses, perhaps the occasional longshot but overall a winning formula.

 

Bottom Line : When my hand is a top nut hand, I can go broke with it and if I am 2nd nuts vs nuts, then that is a beat I can accept. When my hand is a top nut hand early on (like AA/KK) but evolves into a pair vs my opponents trips, or them having a straight perhaps, I really don't want to over commit myself early on to making the "well, i have to shove the river because i have left nothing behind"

 

This I think will help my game more than anything else, that and side-stepping obvious way-behind situations.

 

Hey, I folded AA and Two Pair yesterday, the action for the AA was just too strong on a wet board to think I was ahead, no idea if I would have won or not (but thats not important).

For the Two Pair, it was a bet from me, got raised and then got check-raised by a 2nd opponent, knew I had the first raiser beat but also knew the check-raiser was much stronger than my two pair.

I was right... YES!! - first raiser had a pair, OK kicker, check-raiser had a flopped straight.

 

-baud2death