Pot Control

There are certain situations to pot control Pot control is really overrated in live low and mid-stakes no limit games. H...

Posted Sep 04, 2016


Bart Hanson BW2

Bart Hanson

Owner and Lead Pro

There are certain situations to pot control

Pot control is really overrated in live low and mid-stakes no limit games. However, in the past, players used to wrongly implement the concept all of the time. I remember about six to eight years ago pot control was absolutely rampant in NL cash games. Commonly you would see players check back the turn with overpairs simply because they did not know what they were going to do if they were raised. This did not make a lot of logical sense, however, as the frequency of a check raise bluff, especially in three and four bet pots was extremely low. But people believed the old adage that you did not want to play a big pot with one pair.

In reality the times to correctly pot control are rare and the game has evolved over the past few years where rarely will you see it implemented. However if you are up against an opponent that is capable of blowing you off of your hand with a draw or bluff and is also balanced enough to play big pots with strong hands occasionally you are forced to do things to manage the size of the pot.

One such situation happened to me in the $5-10 NL game at the Commerce game last week. In this particular game starting stacks are capped at $1500 but often times players will get very deep. In this spot I was actually $4000 deep with the villain. And this particular villain has had a lot of experience playing larger games and tough competition and he recognizes that in order to win a big pot you must build a big pot. He is also capable of running large bluffs but plays very tight preflop. He has the ultimate “TAG” style.

In this particular hand I opened to $35 Under the Gun with Q Q. The villain called in MP1 and we went heads up. The flop came out J 7 4 and I made a $50 continuation bet. My opponent called rather quickly. The turn brought the 3 putting out a backdoor flush draw. In most cases at this level I would simply bet again from out of position to continued to get value from a jack or a flush draw. I would revaluate the situation if I was raised. But against this particular opponent I knew that he was capable of not only raising the turn with a draw but also raising it with the actual nuts –56. He is ALSO good enough to turn some sort of hand that was marginal on the flop onto a bluff, knowing that he doesn’t have the best hand, like 67. This balanced range is extremely rare at this level but it forced me to check in order to manage the pot size. I simply could not call a big raise because I knew that my opponent would know exactly where I was at and would have position on the river. So, I decided to check. He bet $120, and I called. The river was the 3 and it completed the front door flush. I checked again and to my surprise my opponent quickly checked behind. I tabled my queens expecting to win and he turned over 5 6 for the turned nuts with a flush draw!!

I actually think that he made a mistake by not value betting the river, although I am not sure that I would have called with the QQ. However, you can see that I definitely would have been raised on the turn and would have been put in a difficult, precarious spot. So by checking I actually made the hand easier for me to get to a showdown.

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