Getting Pot Committed In NLHE Ring Games

Carl Sampson | November 5, 2011

Carl “The Dean” Sampson

Carl “The Dean” Sampson is an online poker pro, coach and poker writer with many years experience in the poker and gambling industry. Carl has three published books and has written for many leading poker magazines like the WPT and Poker Pro Europe.


Carl plays poker online at PokerStars, not only the largest online poker room, but also the best!

I always think that one of the big key mistakes that many players make in deep stack no limit hold’em games is to allow themselves to get pot committed too often. Let me explain here with an example, it has been folded around to the cut-off at NL100 ring with $100 effective stacks who then makes it $3.50 to go. You see Q-J on the button and decide that your opponent is likely to be stealing and so you three bet to $14.

Both blinds fold but the original raiser calls making the pot $29 before the flop which comes J-9-4 rainbow. Your opponent donk bets into you for $20 and you decide that you hand is just too strong to fold to a single bet and so you call looking to see what your opponent does on the turn. Now the $20 call and the $14 pre-flop three bet has already put 34% of your total pre-flop stack into the middle with two betting rounds to go.

The turn is a brick with the Ad and your opponent checks and so do you for pot control. Both of your ranges at this stage look weak to each other and the river card is good for you and is the Qh giving you two pair. Suddenly your opponent bets $60 into the $69 pot out of the blue. You have already invested $34 into this pot and calling this bet would lose you 94bb if your hand wasn’t good.

You decide to call based on the fact that your turn check indicated weakness and you can beat a bluff. You call and your opponent shows A-J for the top two pair that he played in an unorthodox way. You ended up losing almost an entire buy in with two pair but what went wrong? Clearly you could have kept the pot smaller pre-flop by calling the $3.50 raise instead of re-raising. This would make the pot $8.50 on the flop rather than $29.50.

A similar size bet on the flop may have been around $5.50 and so when they check the turn then the pot is around $19 rather than the $69 before. So if you call a near pot sized bet on the river in this instance then your risk is only going to be around $19 at most making your total risk less than $30 in total.