Try this at home: Overbetting

Using a sledgehammer to crack the nits…

Overbetting is simply betting more than the size of the pot. It’s a crude, but effective tool that has become an en-vogue tactic thanks to its use by high profile players such as Viktor Blom and Tom Dwan. It’s not a new concept though. Since the early days of no-limit hold’em players have been shoving their chips in either as a bluff or an attempt to get paid with the nuts. The difference between old school shoving and new school overbetting is the way the technique has been refined on fifth street.

On the river, the overbet is a hugely effective tactic. It can make weak players fold moderate strength hands and it can be very profitable against both good players, who might read you for a bluff, and poor players who can’t fold top pair.

As a bluff it works against opponents who you think will only call with the very top of their range. Otherwise the potential losses when called far outweigh the potential profits from raking the pot. They have to fold around 60% of the time for it to be profitable. When overbetting for value you are looking for opponents who are going to call regardless of the size of the bet.

The set-up

  • You are heads-up after the flop
  • The villain is either a weak passive player or a calling station
  • You have more left in your stack than the size of the pot
  • Your opponent also has more in his stack than the size of the pot
  • You have some history with the villain and know his/her tendencies

In action

  • Decide if you’re overbetting as a bluff or for value
  • Watch for weak passive players or calling stations
  • Raise preflop as standard and continuation bet or float the flop
  • If your hand is too weak to see a showdown then bet between 1.5 and 2 times the size of the pot
  • If your hand is very strong then bet between 1.5 and 2 times the pot if your opponent is a calling station or a good thinking player

Overbetting in action

Alec Torelli calls the flop and then bets the turn and exerts maximum pressure on Esther-Taylor Brady by overbetting the river:


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