Pot Entitlement Its Not Over Till Its Over

Posted on Sep 08, 2009 by Gugel in Poker Strategy

Dont go to scoop up the pot before the hand is over

Dont go to scoop up the pot before the hand is over

In NL holdem, a very strong hand on the flop can become a marginal hand on the turn or river. But people have a very hard time letting go of a flopped monster. I call this phenomenon, pot entitlement. Simply put, they feel they are entitled to win the pot, even when the board evolves unfavorably. Im definitely guilty of this myself. In the following hand, I really, really wanted to call the turn since I flopped 2 pair, but a fold is correct.

Hero (Button) ($243.10)
SB ($107.20)

Preflop: Hero is Button with 4♠, 5♠
Hero bets $3, SB raises to $11, Hero calls $8

Flop: ($22) 3♣, 5♣, 4♣ (2 players)
SB bets $17, Hero calls $17

Turn: ($56) 2♠ (2 players)
SB bets $35, Hero folds

But, Gugel, you flopped top two! you say. True, but its a super dangerous board. If I raise on the flop, hes going to fold all his air and get it in with hands that have good equity vs. me. Its much better to wait for a safe turn (not a club, not a 2) and get it in. Unfortunately, the turn is a pretty disastrous card and the villain bets pretty big. The fact that Im gonna be facing a river shove a huge percentage of the time and that my hand is super vulnerable even if I am ahead, makes this a fold.

Heres another example:
Villain is a straightforward player that doesnt get out of line.

Hero (BB) ($100)
SB (Button) ($100)

Preflop: Hero is Button with 7♠, 6♠
SB raises to $3, Hero calls $2

Flop: ($6) 7, 7, 9♣ (2 players)
Hero checks, SB bets $5, Hero calls $5.

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

River: ($16) J♠ (2 players)
Hero bets $9, SB raises to $36.

A lot of people are going to call here because they flopped trips. Dont fall into that trap. Youre not entitled to the pot. Always remember that the money in the pot is not yours until you showdown or the villain folds.  Dont count your chickens before they hatch.

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5 Responses to Pot Entitlement Its Not Over Till Its Over

  1. Gugel

    08. Sep, 2009

    In Hand 2, youre calling the flop because its really hard to get the villain to pay you off. A huge part of his range misses that flop and trying to get him to bluff is more valuable.

  2. BigT

    08. Sep, 2009

    It can often be a difficult situation, you really need to know your opponent. If youre up against somebody very aggressive you almost have to stick to the pot since you can sure hell raise a dangerous board whether he has it or not.

    But yes, if an even half-way reasonable player starts calling a visible flush or straight draw youd better really consider whether your set is worth it.

  3. Dell

    14. Sep, 2009

    Hi Gugel!

    I guess your example in the 2nd hand is obvious, but i dont get why u played so weakish the flop-turn sequence cmon pal, its like u limped pocket Aces and wait the donkey make his 2pair. Instead of representing a bluff by betting, u chose to slowplay a set and represent a draw or some weak hand, which isnt a good line unless youre facing a complete maniac (if so, why do u choose to fold?) I like you and admire your systematic approach to HU, yet this is weak-tight stuff

  4. Gugel

    14. Sep, 2009


    I was actually really conflicted about this hand when I played it. I kept thinking OMG, Gugel, this is so weak, I cant believe you want to fold. But after almost timing out, I decided to fold.

    I wasnt super confident in my decision so I asked Ansky. He said obviously thats a crumby position, but folding there is completely fine. I dont think anyone considers Ansky weak-tight :)

  5. Dell

    15. Sep, 2009

    Hi Gugel,

    I dont question the fold, but the line you chose to not charge him for possible draws or pairs. Bests!