Overbetting in Poker: How to Overbet Like a Pro

Updated: Nov 3, 2021

Today I’ll be giving you the relevant tools to help you overbet like a pro. It’s used to be rare when playing poker that a player would choose to be greater than the size of the pot, betting larger than the flop is called an overbet. It’s becoming more common and incorporating overbets is for sure the most profitable way to play poker, if you’re avoiding overbetting you’re missing out. When done correctly, overbetting will greatly improve your winrate. I’ll show you why we overbet and what you need to consider in a hand should you want to start adding these highly profitable plays into your game.


Ultimately, we overbet to getting the most cash from your opponent as part of a GTO strategy. To make you overbet like a pro we are going to leverage the following poker concepts into our favour: pot-odds, range advantages/ capped ranges and expected value of bet sizing’s.


Firstly, let’s look at pot-odds and expected value, the math behind overbetting:


Overbetting in Poker: The Math

Understanding the mathematics behind overbetting will allow you to identify the situations that you should be overbetting in much more easily. When you know this poker math, you will be equipped with the tools you need to make those overbets profitable.


Pot-Odds

Whenever we make a bet in poker, we are giving our opponent a mathematical equation to solve. If we bet $100 into a pot of $100, then our opponent would have to match our bet and call $100 to then win a total pot of $300. For our opponent to be making a profitable call in that situation, they would have to go on to win the pot 33% of the time. This is the concept of pot odds.


Knowing the pot-odds equation is essential, if we have a hand such as an open-ended straight draw or flush draw, we can work out the amount of equity we have in a hand and can therefore proceed profitably and call or fold these hands on the flop or turn based on the price set by our opponent.


Knowing your pot-odds is one of the easier mathematical fundamentals of playing poker that most people should know. Bigger bet sizes give our opponents worse odds to make the call. Now say we bet $150 into the $100 pot. Our opponent will have to call $150 to win $400. This means they would have to win 37.5% of the time.


Pot odds are also used on the river, the way that our opponent calculates if they should make a call or not is by working out how frequently we are bluffing compared to the odds given. If we bet $100 into $100 on the river our opponent needs to call and win 1/3 of the time. Providing that our opponent can beat our bluffs then our opponent would be making a profitable call should we be bluffing more frequently than 1/3 of the time.


Overbetting allows us to profitably bluff more frequently on flops, turns or rivers as our opponent must fold more frequently.


Very few of our opponent hands will have the required raw equity- the chance of a hand winning with no other factors at play in the hand- to make a call with their draws when facing an overbet. This means that for our opponent to play profitably against us they must have adequate knowledge of implied odds, minimum defence frequency, and which hands are the best to call with against our range on many textures. This is much more difficult, requires more skill and knowledge and therefore many opponents will be making big mistakes to our overbets.


Overbetting causes the average opponent to make more mistakes in a hand. They can call too tight as they rely too heavily on only raw equity in a hand which increases our profitability when we bluff. Or they will be too loose, not calculating their odds or selecting the best calling combinations. The more often opponents make unprofitable decisions, the higher our overall profitability.


Expected Value of Bet Sizing

If you want to look at the efficacy of your bet, then you need to think carefully about the profitability of the bet. Expected Value (EV) is how much cash we expect to make in a situation in the long run i.e., played out an infinite number of times. Let’s have a look at the easiest way of explaining EV using a player calling our bet on the river.