Why You Should Throw Pot Control Out the Window

Posted on Feb 28, 2009 by Gugel in Poker Strategy

Pot control is a good thing.  Unless of course, you go overboard.  Its a big leak for many, many low stakes and mid stakes regs.  In fact, its probably one of my biggest leaks!
Lets take a look at a hand I played recently.

Hero (Button) ($100)
SB ($101.50)

Preflop: Hero is Button with J♠, A♣
Hero bets $3, SB calls $2

Flop: ($6) J, 9♠, 3♠ (2 players)
SB checks, Hero bets $5, SB calls $5

Turn: ($16) 8♠ (2 players)
SB checks, Hero checks

Why didnt I bet the turn?  I was thinking I cant get 3 streets of value here so Ill just check the turn and bet the river.  But am I right?  Can I really not get three streets of value?  If the villain has JQ, does he not call 3 streets?

I posted this hand on 2+2 and Citanul was kind enough to send me a pretty awesome private message.  Im sharing it with you guys (with his permission of course). 

I used to: raise pre, cbet flop, check turn, bet river a ton because I dont think I can get 3 streets of value, and Id like to apply some amount of pot control here. Ive got to say that one of the biggest changes for the better Ive made to my game recently is to stop thinking like that. I think that these sorts of lines are fairly standard in 6m-9m, tournaments, etc, but in HU, especially at the stakes were playing and against the opponents were playing, weve got to stop thinking like that.

In general, against most opponents, youd rather bet flop and turn than flop and river, for a big pile of reasons.
First, it protects your bluffs some, since youre more likely to double barrel in that fashion than in the delayed 2 barrel way.

Second, the hands you get 3 streets of value from are a bigger set than you think. TPTK is a pretty huge hand HU.

Third, giving free cards sucks.

Fourth, you get to decide the size of the bet. If you check behind turn with an array of hands, some of the time your opponent is going to bet in to you on the river. Now thats great in those instances where you were inducing because you think your opponent is weak but will bluff when checked back to, but a lot of the time you wind up being put in a spot where the river bet is bigger than the bet you would have put in on the turn, uncomfortably.

Fifth, which goes with the first point, bet check bet looks more like a value line to many opponents, so youre going to let a lot of people get away that would have paid your bet off on the turn.

Eh, I could probably do more, but I think thats a reasonable thought process. I just know that for me, I got a lot better (I think?) when I started being much more aggressive on the turn, and threw my notions of pot control with hands like TP out the window a bit. (Maybe Im sort of holding them out the window thinking about dropping them?) Sometimes you wind up getting checkraised on the turn, but thats something youve got to deal with when it happens, and re-adjust.

I talked about pot control with Ansky yesterday too.   He made a pretty striking example of just how aggressive high stakes games are.  For example, against many opponents, if he had AQ and the flop came KQ2, he wouldnt hesitate to bet all 3 streets for value (assuming the baord doesnt get too dangerous).  Most villains will call all the way down with a weaker queen.

Do you take pot control too far?  How often do you bet 2nd pair for value on all 3 streets?

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One Response to Why You Should Throw Pot Control Out the Window

  1. [...] If you continuation bet the flop, you should bet the turn. People call a flop continuation bet with a wide range of hands. Their range shrinks considerably [...]