Overbetting is the hottest trend in poker strategy right now – and for good reason.
There are many benefits to having the overbet in your poker arsenal, including:
- Extracting more value with your strongest hands
- Pushing more fold-equity with your bluffs
- Putting your opponent(s) in a tough spot with the majority of their range
But which situations call for an overbet? And how should you react to overbets by your opponents? In this article, cash game expert Fried Meulders is going to help us answer these questions.
We’ll take a close look at 4 overbet-related hand histories analyzed by Fried. Each of these hands were posted by Upswing Lab members in our private group, where Fried and the other Upswing coaches share their invaluable advice.
Let’s get straight into the hands:
Hand 1: Overbet shoving on a double paired board
This hand was submitted by Lab member Mantas S.
25NL 6-Max Zoom. $25 Effective Stacks
Hero is dealt Q♠ J♠ in the BB.
3 folds. BTN raises to $0.50. sb folds. Hero 3-bets to $2. BTN 4-bets to $4.30. Hero calls.
Flop ($8.70): T♦ T♠ 2♣
Hero checks. BTN checks.
Turn ($8.70): 7♥
Hero bets $2.74. BTN calls.
River ($14.18): 7♠
Hero bets $18 all-in. BTN calls.
BTN wins $48.80 with A♠ K♠
We have to be particularly careful when selecting our bluffs here because it is very easy to over-bluff on a board like this.
When deciding whether or not to overbet bluff here, we should first consider how many value combos we would play this way. Since we called a button 4-bet from the big blind, we don’t have a ton of Tx or 7x hands in our range.
We can feasibly have hands like T9s, 78s and 76s because of the relatively small size of the 4-bet. But the removal on the double-paired board means that we can only have two combos of each of these hands. We can also have ATs and JTs — an extra four combos — if we play them this way pre-flop.
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We can also have T♥ T♣ for quads, which brings our total combinations of value hands up to 11 — and that’s a generous estimate. As a result, we have to choose our overbet bluffs on this river very carefully or we’ll quickly become unbalanced.
Also, I would be somewhat apprehensive about bluffing in this spot because our opponent checked back on a flop that is very favorable to c-bet. We should also be careful not to make the assumption that our opponent ‘is weak’ just because they checked the flop – a competent player will have a balanced checking range here that consists of overpairs that can call down turn and river barrels.
If we do bet on the turn, we should use a larger size in order to spread our fold-equity more evenly on the turn and river.
Hand 2 – No blockers… no problem?
This next hand was posted by Lab member Adrian G.
6-Max Online Cash Game. 100bb Effective Stacks.
Hero is dealt A♥ 3♥ in MP
utg folds. Hero raises to 2.5bb. 3 folds. BB calls.
Flop (5.5bb): 3♣ 2♦ 9♦
BB checks. Hero checks.
Turn (5.5bb): 6♥
BB bets 3.4bb. Hero calls.
River (12.3bb): 8♠
BB bets 7.6bb. Hero raises to 25bb.
[Editor’s Note: This river raise is not an overbet — it was accidentally included on this list — but we’re still going to include it because the information is beneficial to our readers.]
Adrian’s comments: Can I use this hand to bluff the river?
This hand is not a suitable candidate to bluff-raise given its blockers and the ranges at play here.
On this river, our opponent has more nutted combos in their range than we do given that they called our MP open-raise from the BB. T7 makes the nuts, and our opponent can have all four suited combos of T7 while we shouldn’t have any of them in our MP RFI range. The same can be said with 54s and even 75s. Since this board favors the range of our opponent, it doesn’t make sense to have a wide bluff-raise range.
When we do choose to bluff, we want to use hands that block our opponent’s strongest hands. 76s and 87s would be great candidates to bluff with because they block both middle sets and straights.
A3s would actually be a pretty reasonable hand to bluff-catch with here because it doesn’t block any of our opponent’s bluffs. It might seem strange to bluff-raise with middle pair when you would bluff-catch with bottom pair in the same spot, but it’s the most efficient way to parse our range on this river.
Hand 3 – Facing an overbet when all the draws miss
Our third hand was submitted by Rohit R., who did not include the stakes.
6-Max Online Cash Game. 133bb Effective Stacks.
Hero is dealt J♥ J♦ in the BB
utg folds. MP raises to 2.5bb. 3 folds. Hero 3-bets to 9bb. MP calls.
Flop (18.5bb): 3♠ Q♠ 9♣
Hero checks. MP checks.
Turn (18.5bb): Q♣
Hero checks. MP bets 11.43bb. Hero calls.
River (41.36bb): 4♦
Hero checks. MP bets 53bb. Hero calls.
Rohit’s comments: What hands do you call down with here on the river?
Calling down with this hand makes a lot of sense. Since we hold the red jacks, we don’t block either of the busted flush draws that our opponent might choose to overbet with on this river. We also completely block QJs – there are no possible QJs combos remaining – which is a value hand our opponent would potentially play this way.
What other hands might we want to call down with given this action? Definitely our Qx, as well as any AA and KK combos that we elected to check on the flop. Hands like TT (and worse) should usually be folded to avoid over-calling versus this large bet.
Betting the turn is also a reasonable play. Our opponent might have a Qx hand that checked back on the flop, but that is less likely given the Q♣ turn. The draw-heavy nature of the board may also induce more calls from our opponent, which makes a relatively thin value bet with J♥ J♦ more attractive.
If you face a raise after betting the turn, you can make the call and re-assess the situation on the river. From a theoretical standpoint, we are expected to call a shove on brick rivers due to our blockers. In practice, however, it is likely that many players under-bluff this spot, which justifies an exploitative river fold with J♥ J♦ versus a shove.
Hand 4 – Facing overbet on river after getting raised on paired board
Our final hand was posted by Lab member Sam I.
$1/$3 6-Handed Live Cash Game. 217bb Effective Stacks.
Hero is dealt A♣ 4♣ in the BB
UTG (300bb) raises to $12. 2 folds. BTN (150bb) calls. sb folds. Hero (217bb) calls.
Flop ($37): J♣ 8♣ 2♠
Hero checks. UTG bets $30. btn folds. Hero calls.
Turn ($97): 8♦
Hero bets $40. UTG raises to $140. Hero calls.
River ($377): 4♦
Hero checks. UTG bets $469. Hero…?
Sam’s comments: Villain is a competent regular and friend of mine – we talk strategy often and he plays low-stakes online.
This hand is far too low in our range to hero call with.
Against this bet size, we need to be right almost 36% of the time to profitably call. We can call with all of our 8x combos, and we have a lot of those in our range given we called out of the big blind preflop. Our strongest Jx hands also fall into this calling range. (Calling with all Jx hands would result in over-calling.)
A♣ 4♣ is a particularly bad hand to call down because it blocks a number of flush draws that our opponent might be bluffing with. Unless you have a sick soul-read on your opponent, you should always be letting the A♣ 4♣ go here.
In situations like this — playing against someone that you know personally — it can be easy to level yourself into making a hero call. However, it’s important to avoid leveling wars like this as they often lead to bad decision-making.
Overbets deserve your respect
It’s crucial that you treat overbet spots with the respect they deserve by selecting your hands extra carefully.
When executing an overbet, use a polarized range and select bluffs based on the effectiveness of their blockers. When facing an overbet, stay conscious of the pot odds and narrow your calling range accordingly.
If you have any questions, please drop them in the comments below. Take care!
Note: If you’re interested in professional and systematic poker training that delivers world-class results, check out The Upswing Lab. Click here or below to learn more.
Read more from UpswingPoker:
- Learn more about overbetting on the river with Ryan Fee’s Overbetting All-In On The River Revealed
- Want more from Fried Meulders? Check out Not-So-Easy River Spots Explained By A Game Theory Expert
- You’ve learned about overbetting, so maybe it’s time to check out Matt Janda’s This Is Why You Should Use More Small Bet Sizes