In poker, overbetting is not a new phenomenon nor a new betting strategy but is being used more and more recently as people are realizing that the game is "No-Limit" - you can bet as much as you want!
Using poker overbets when you play will add a new dimension to your game and will potentially confuse opponents who haven't come across them before. Regardless of your playing style, overbets should have a place in your overaching winning poker strategy.
Poker Overbet Basics
In poker, an overbet is any bet that is more than the size of the pot. For example, if the pot is $20 on the flop, bets of $21, $30, or $40, are all overbets as they are more than the size of the pot.
Overbets can be made on either the flop, turn, or river. While it's possible to raise more than the size of the pot preflop, these happen a lot more often and aren't considered the same thing as a post-flop overbet.
Flop overbets are a lot less common than turn and river overbets, as ranges become more defined it becomes easier to overbet as you'll know exactly which parts of your opponent's range your targeting with your bet.
Example of an Overbet Used in a Live Poker Game
In this hand, Tom Dwan gets to the river with 7 high and needs to bluff to win after bluffing on the flop and the turn. He decides to overbet - putting his opponent all in to put max pressure on his hand. Sammy thinks about it for a while but eventually folds and Tom wins the pot - collecting another $10K for winning with 72!
The Art of an Overbet In-Game
So now we know what overbetting is, and have seen an example in a live game, how do we do it?
Well, as previously stated, in order to make an overbet we need to bet more than the size of the pot, but there's a lot more to it than that. Firstly, we need to pick a sizing as there are multiple types of overbets. There are the slight overbets which are a little over pot (1.1/1.2x), the bigger overbets (1.5/2x pot), and the monster overbets (3x pot+).
Each of these sizings will need to be called or bet at different frequencies as the larger the sizing, the more narrow the range should be. This is going to be true of all bet sizings going all the way up to the monster overbets which are likely going to be the absolute nuts or a complete bluff.
The most common sizings on flops/turns will be the slight/bigger overbets, between 1.2/1.7x as ranges aren't quite as polarized as they are on the river. On the river is where we start to see more of the monster overbetting taking place but it is also reasonable to use the smaller overbets depending on the type of range you want to bet.
There are two reasons for overbetting, as a bluff and as a value bet (you can read more about different bet types on our bet types page).
If you're value betting, you want to be using your strongest value hands. We have to realize that when we're overbetting, our opponents are going to be folding more often than they would against a half pot bet so some of our middling value will never get called by worse if we use it as a value bet.
If you're bluffing, you want to try and stop your opponents from having their strongest hands. It's a simple concept - the more we can stop our opponents from having good hands, the more they will fold. As our opponents will be folding more often and calling the top of their range, if we have hands that block the top of their range, the more likely it is our overbet bluff works.
When To Overbet in Poker
I can tell you're already itching to get out there and start overbetting in your games - here are the spots that you can go crazy with!
These hands are ones that are or close to the nuts and want to get as much value as possible from our opponents. A great way to do this is to use an overbet. Overbetting will build pots a lot quicker and, due to their larger sizing, will get more money into the pot than a standard bet sizing.
It's important when we're overbetting to use both value bets and bluffs when overbetting, and nutted hands are the perfect candidates to use as your value bets. We don't want to be using medium-strength hands to overbet for value as using that size will likely fold out worse hands and only get called against better hands.
Opponents Are Capped
These situations are great spots to overbet as a bluff. When your opponent is capped it means they don't have the very best hands in their range because of the way they've played the hand up to that point.
For example, you raise the BTN and the BB calls and the flop comes- the 'nuts' or the best hand possible is AQ for the nut straight. There are also very strong hands as KK/JJ/TT are all sets. If you think your opponent will always 3bet AQ/KK/JJ/TT pre then your opponent's range is 'capped' at KJ for top two.
However, because you have all combos of AQ/KK/JJ/TT, your range is uncapped. This means you can apply lots of pressure on your opponent's marginal hands by overbetting with your bluffs. You can also exploit the times he will call down with hands like two pair by also overbetting with your strongest value hands.
When we're playing against passive opponents, we need to build the pots ourselves when we have a good hand as we can't expect them to raise as often as aggressive players. Therefore overbetting against these players to value bet will be best for building the size of the pot when we have our strongest value hands.
It's important that we try and get maximum value from our strongest hands and sometimes that means making adjustments to our opponents. Having overbets in your arsenal will allow you to exploit these opponents.
When We Have Relevant Blockers
As we've mentioned earlier, we must have both bluffs and value bets in our range when we're overbetting, but how do we choose what bluffs to use when we're using such a big sizing? The hands we want to use, are hands that 'block' or make it less likely our opponents have strong hands that will continue against our overbets.
The most thought of examples of 'blocker plays' are when we hold the ace of a suit when the flush comes in. For example, if we haveon the button against the BB and the board is then we make it impossible for our opponent to have the nut flush by having the in our hand. In scenarios like these, we can use overbets to apply pressure to the weaker parts of our opponent's range, knowing that they are more likely to have that part of their range when we have the relevant blockers.
Worst Scenarios to Overbet
As tempting as it may be to throw out that overbet at every opportunity, there are some scenarios where it won't work out so well:
On boards where we don't have a range advantage, or specifically boards where our opponents have a lot of very strong hands, overbetting isn't advised. This is because the number of value hands we can comfortably overbet with for value will be reduced on these kinds of boards which means we either need to reduce the number of bluff combos to remain balanced, or stay bluffing at the same rate and become extremely unbalanced.
We know that when our opponents are tight, the range of hands they will continue with when facing aggression is going to be a very strong, narrow range. We also know that they will overfold against c-bets because of their tight nature. Against these players, overbetting with most hands that we would against other people would be inefficient.
If they're already folding too much then overbetting doesn't achieve much more than a regular bet would, other than cost us more when they have the top of their range.
Lack of Blockers
We noted in the section above that a good spot to overbet is when we have relevant blockers to our opponent's good hands. It stands to reason that bad times to overbet will be when we don't have these blockers for good hands, or if we have what are called 'negative blockers'.
'Negative blockers' is a similar principle to blockers - but as I'm sure you guessed the 'negative' part means that they're bad. They're bad because they refer to cards that block your opponent's folding range. When we're overbet bluffing we want our opponent to fold as often as possible, so when we hold cards we think our opponent would fold (negative blockers) it becomes a worse spot to overbet.
Used in Previous Rounds
This is specifically for when we're bluffing turn and river spots and will depend on how the board texture changes from street to street but the basic principle is that if our opponent has a hand that is strong enough to call our first overbet then they are unlikely to fold to the second overbet.
For the majority of players at micro/low stakes, facing an overbet is a big inflection point in the hand and unless the board texture changes dramatically (bringing in both flush and straight draws for example) then most of the value hands that call the previous street will call the next one.
This works out very well if we have our strongest value hands but will end up costing us dearly if we continue to bluff in the same vein.
How To Play Against An Overbet
So we've covered a lot about how we should be overbetting, but what about when our opponent is overbetting?
If we believe our opponent is a competent player then they will be overbetting in the same way that we've outlined in this article which means there will be a mix of value bets and bluffs. Against a range that's balanced the best thing we can do is pick our best calling hands.
Some of our hands are going to be easy decisions, hands that are close to the nuts are seldom going to be folded - even against overbet sizings. It's the hands that aren't quite close to the nuts but are still strong that are the tricky decisions.
Ideally, we want to have cards that block our opponent's value hands that beat us - for example, havingon and facing an overbet is better than having , as the first hand blocks some of the heart flushes that our opponent can overbet with.
Some of these spots will depend on your opponent and how they play. The tighter and more passive your opponent is the less you want to be calling overbets as they're far more likely to be the nuts than a maniacal LAG player. Making these player distinctions can save you a lot of money when playing post-flop!
Poker Overbet - FAQ
A collection of common questions and answers about overbetting in Poker.
What is an overbet in poker?
An overbet in poker is any bet made post-flop (on the flop, turn, or river) that is larger than the current size of the pot. For example, betting $30 into a $20 pot is an overbet.
When should players overbet in Texas Holdem?
Players should overbet when their opponent's range is capped, when they have relevant blockers to the strongest hands possible, with nutted hands and when playing against more passive opponents.
Is it a good idea to overbet out of position?
Yes, it can be. There are some spots where the in-position player's range becomes capped when they check back. For example, if we expect our opponent to be a flush draw on the flop and they check back on a flush draw board, then if the flush comes in on the turn we can assume that they don't have as many flushes so overbetting will apply a lot of pressure to his range.
What are the ideal hands for overbetting?
You will want to overbet with either very strong hands or with bluffs that can block your opponent from having strong hands. By using overbets in this way you can get paid off big when you have it, and when you bluff using blockers you lower the amount of time your opponent calls meaning your bluffs work more often.
Should you fold when an opponent overbets?
It depends! When your opponent overbets it means you don't have to defend with as much as your range so folding your weaker hands is going to be good. Depending on the stakes you play, overbets may not contain as many bluffs as they should so continuing with only strong hands is reasonable.
There's no better feeling in poker than coming in with the overbet and getting it through. Overbetting is being used by more and more players so being able to implement it yourself will make you even tougher to play against!