When used correctly, overbetting can represent one of the most powerful moves in a poker player’s arsenal.
By definition, an overbet occurs when a player uses a bet sizing that’s bigger than the size of the pot. For example, if the pot is $100, and a player bets $150, that large bet qualifies as an overbet.
The overbet marks a staple of modern poker strategy. No-Limit Hold’em presents many opportunities to overbet when bluffing, or when trying to get value from strong hands.
Let’s take a look at the overbet, and discuss when this strong tactic should be used in a poker game.
Texas Hold’em Overbet Poker Strategy
Whether you prefer multi-table tournaments or cash games, the overbet should be in your repertoire any time you sit at the poker table.
The following online poker hand example features overbetting, at 500NL stakes at the PokerStars Zoom games:
500NL 6-Max Zoom. $500 Effective Stacks
Hero is dealt Q♠ 9♠ on the button.
3 folds. Hero raises to $11.55. SB folds. BB calls.
Flop ($25.60): T♥ 8♠ 3♣
BB checks. Hero $15.32. BB calls.
Turn ($56.24): 2♥
BB checks. Hero bets $70.50. BB calls.
River ($197.24): 4♠
BB checks. Hero bets $402.63.
The Hero (Upswing Poker coach Fried Meulders) in this hand uses an overbet on both the turn and the river in the 500NL Zoom pool, which plays as one of the toughest No-Limit Hold’em cash games in the world.
The hand begins with the Hero on the button, and Fried opens preflop to $11.55. The big blind villain calls, and the hand proceeds as a familiar button vs. blind spot in a single raised pot.
The flop comes T♥ 8♠ 3♣, the big blind checks and Fried puts out a c-bet for about 60%-pot. The big blind calls.
The turn brings T♥ 8♠ 3♣ 2♥ to the board. The big blind checks again, and Fried overbets, putting $70.50 into a $56.24 pot. This large bet represents 1.25x the size of the pot, and the big blind makes the call.
The river completes a T♥ 8♠ 3♣ 2♥ 4♠ board. Fried arrives at the river with just queen high and puts out an overbet bluff for more than 2x the size of the pot.
Facing this large bet sizing, the villain is likely compelled to only call with their strongest hands.
When Do We Overbet On The Turn?
Nut Advantage and Range Advantage
One aspect of this hand that prompts an overbet is Fried’s range advantage and nut advantage in the hand. The big blind is unlikely to hold the nuts in this hand, which on this board would be a set of tens.
The big blind player would likely three-bet a hand like pocket tens preflop, and would also three-bet pocket eight some percentage of the time. By just calling preflop, the top two nutted hands become much more unlikely holdings for the big blind.
As played, this single-raised pot sees the big blind check on the flop and Fried c-bets on the T♥ 8♠ 3♣ board. The big blind calls.
The big blind player should check-raise T8s, 88, and 33 at some frequency when facing a flop c-bet. Because the player just called, Fried can proceed with this hand as if the big blind doesn’t have many two pair or sets in their range going to the turn.
Fried holds the range advantage going into the turn, as he holds many more strong hands than the big blind (AA, KK, QQ, JJ, TT, 88, 33, T8s). Fried also holds the nut advantage, as he can still have all of the nutted hands that his opponent likely can’t.
When you arrive at the turn with both a range and nut advantage, you can overbet in many cases with both value hands and bluffs. The lack of strong hands in your opponent’s range will put them in a tough spot facing a turn overbet.
Overbet on Brick Turns
The above example illustrates one of the best spots to overbet. When playing as the button against the big blind in a single raised pot, you can often overbet on “brick” turns.
A brick turn is a card that doesn’t connect with the cards on the flop. Brick turns generally shouldn’t change anything about which player is ahead in the hand.
In our T♥ 8♠ 3♣ 2♥ example from above, the 2♥ is about as much of a brick as could possibly arrive after the T♥ 8♠ 3♣ flop. The 2♥ doesn’t complete a straight or a flush, and shouldn’t change either player’s hand strength much from what each held on the flop.
Fried could profitably overbet many of his value hands-on this turn, including sets, two pair, overpairs, and strong Tx hands. He can balance that value bet range with plenty of bluffs.
While Fried warns not to go too crazy and bluff all flush draws and straight draws on this board, he felt his Q♠ 9♠ made for a good overbet bluff on the brick turn.
Fried advises that the bigger your range and nut advantage, the bigger overbet sizing you can use on the turn.
When Do We Overbet On The River?
Fried’s postflop play has so far included a flop c-bet that was 60% the size of the pot, and a turn overbet that was 125% the size of the pot.
The opponent calls both, and the river completes a board of T♥ 8♠ 3♣ 2♥ 4♠. The 4♠ prompts Fried to overbet all-in on the river, going 200% the size of the pot.
The 4♠ completes a straight for A5s, which is another nutted hand that Fried could have in his range when he arrives at this river. The big blind wouldn’t call a two-thirds-sized bet on the flop and a turn overbet from out of position with a hand like A5s or 65s.
Fried can remove yet another nutted hand from the big blind’s range when the 4♠ comes on the river. His opponent’s range is largely limited to medium strength hands and perhaps a few missed flush draw combos.
This hand presents a situation where you can look to overbet the river. According to Fried, you can use overbets on cards that complete straights that we can have, but our opponent doesn’t have.
The big blind, particularly in high stakes games and tough online games like 500NL Zoom, won’t survive very long calling large bets on the turn with just a gutshot like A5s and 65s. Knowing this, Fried’s bluffing bet size in this spot is a 2x overbet shove.
Bluffing with an overbet size sets Fried up to get maximum value in subsequent river spots where he overbets with the best hand. While other turns and rivers after the T♥ 8♠ 3♣ flop might compel Fried to go with a smaller bet on the turn or river, this board presented the perfect runout for Fried to place two bigger-than-pot bets on the final two postflop streets.
Check out the following article for a deeper breakdown on the 500NL Zoom hand discussed above, as well as two other hands in which Fried applies the pressure with overbets.