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What Is Overbetting in Poker?
An overbet is a bet that is larger than the current size of the pot (for example, an “all-in”). Changes in poker strategy, driven by high-stakes players, have made the overbet a common weapon among skilled players with the knowledge that it puts their opponents in tough situations.
How to Make an Overbet in Poker
When making an overbet, you must factor in your opponent’s range. Professional poker player Daniel Negreanu explains: “What condition has to be present for an overbet to be a possibility? You have to have your opponent’s range [ pegged ] as being very, very strong—except yours is slightly stronger.”
- If you have a nutted hand and want to get maximum value, you must be sure your opponent has a strong range so they can call the large bet frequently enough. (If their range isn’t strong, they’ll consider the pot odds and end up folding to your overbet.)
- When overbetting for value, make sure that you don’t have a hand that would block the hands your opponent is more likely to call with. With a hand such as top set on a dry board, you block top pair combinations, making it more likely that your opponent has a second pair type hand that cannot call any large bet on the river.
- When you are bluffing, always consider whether your opponent has many nutted hands in their range that they are unlikely to fold to any bet size. If this is the case, then your overbet bluff might get called too often to be profitable. Blockers are also important when overbetting as a bluff. Ideally, you want to overbet when you block the strong hands that your opponent can consider calling with.
What Is the Overbetting Range?
Your overbet range should always be balanced with value hands and bluffs to maintain the maximum profitability of this bet type against good players.
- You can make adjustments against bad players when overbetting for value as they are likely to pay you off more frequently.
- When playing against opponents you know to be balanced, use the folding frequency formula—Bet / (Pot + Bet)—to assess how often you must call when facing an overbet yourself.
- Keep in mind that at low stakes many players will only ever overbet for value. If in doubt, err on the side of folding too frequently rather than paying off your opponent with a worse hand.
- Because overbetting is a complicated strategy with a lot of potential for expensive mistakes, making overbets should be reserved until you have mastered the fundamentals of poker.