Pot control is overrated

I am not sure who came up with the term “pot control” but nowadays you hear it referenced much more in tournaments than ...

Posted Jul 28, 2012


Bart Hanson

Bart Hanson

Owner and Lead Pro

I am not sure who came up with the term “pot control” but nowadays you hear it referenced much more in tournaments than in cash games. There was a time, however, where pot control was very trendy in ring games. I remember doing episodes of Live at the Bike back in 2006 where even good players would check back their overpairs on the turn because they did not want to play a big pot with one pair. The really interesting thing though was that the frequency of check-raise bluffs and semi-bluffs especially on the turn was quite low. By checking back all they were really doing was losing value from draws and giving free cards to opponents that had decent equity.

The same thing can be said now especially at the lower levels. You really do not have to concern yourself with getting bluffed on the turn especially in three-bet pots. Most people are aware that your range consists of a significant amount of overpairs and strong hands after putting a lot of money in the pot and they are not going to try and get you off of those holdings without a big hand or draw themselves.

I have written a lot about bet-folding and raise-folding the last few weeks in this column. If you can successfully bet for value and then fold when you face resistance than you are way out in front of most of the player pool at the $5 or $10 big blind level of live no-limit.

Now of course, there are times when you can check back the turn for value with a strong hand thinking that maybe your opponent cannot call both a turn and a river bet. But this is not to say that you are “pot controlling.” In fact, there is nothing wrong with taking this concept entirely out of your game for low and midstakes no-limit holdem. The sheer fact of the matter is unless you are up against ridiculously good, aggressive players and you are super deep stacked there is rarely a need to pot control in no-limit cash games.

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