There are two elements to a game of poker that you need in play to be successful. The first is a strong hand, one that can win you a game. The second is winning an amount that makes your risk worthwhile, and you do this by building a pot.
The best players can effectively build a pot when they have a good hand, doing so to take the maximum amount of money from the table, but without raising the alarm with other players too much.
You may have a hand that you are willing to risk it all for, but by jumping in and going big, you are going to potentially scare people away. Getting the strategy of pot building correct will ensure the other players on your table will remain engaged in the game and will continue to add to the pot, which is hopefully what you are going to win.
A key element to remember here is that your opponents on the table are all trying to win, which means protecting their stack when they don’t have a great hand. When they are in protection mode, your offensive strategy needs to be enough to make them come out and play, rather than scaring them and forcing them in and to eventually fold.
Go all in early and your opponent will know something is not quite right. This may be a bluff, but it is a huge risk for your opponent to take. Rather than that, you should look at slowly forcing them out, offering them the chance to take multiple smaller risks, rather than one big risk with everything on the line.
Poker pots naturally start small, with those who are playing in the hand adding to that as the game progresses. Here are some strategies to try when you are looking to build the pot in poker.
Bet on Every Occasion
The first strategy involves betting at every possible opportunity. This means that rather than one big bet, which will immediately draw attention, you can spread your money around to try and disguise the fact you are betting so much.
This strategy is also very simple to execute, so even if you are new to poker, this is something you should feel comfortable implementing at a fairly early stage of your gaming. The idea is to bet on all streets, which means you bet on the flop, the turn and the river.
When you are playing a no limit cash game, the size of the bets is determined by the pot so by gradually increasing the pot size. By the time the river arrives, you will have increased the pot enough to increase the bet size on your table.
By playing this style, you are looking to slowly increase the pot and the bet size that other players have to commit to, without raising any alarms. Do this correctly and when you get to the river, the pot should be big enough for you to either go all in or place a big bet without it looking out of place, because of the size of everything else.
If you are against weaker players or those who like to call a lot then this method is going to work very well. It will also help if you’ve either been caught bluffing on big pots or played big pots in recent games, and you have a reputation for it on the table. This should disguise that a little for you, which is going to be positive.
Can Over Betting Work?
Poker players have been over betting for a long time, though the reason for doing so has changed a little recently. In the past, many people have used overbets as a tool when they are bluffing, in order to try and take the pot cheaply.
However, you no longer need to use over betting when bluffing now, you can use this when you have a great hand. Some players will see an overbet and think you are a player bluffing to try and win the pot, and they may take you on because of this. In this case, you aren’t bluffing, and you have the hand to back up your big bet, whereas your opponent may not have the same level of hand.
One of the aspects of poker that many people struggle with is how to bluff and second guess people on the table. This is not easy if you are playing online, and you cannot even see the players you are up against.
The default position for some people will be to question why you are betting so high if you have a good hand. In many ways, this makes this a type of double bluff, even though that is not what you are trying to do, and certainly makes it tough for others to read you on the table.
A great over betting strategy will leave your opponents wondering what your big bet means, and what they should do next. They have no option but to guess what you are doing, and they are not going to guess right every time.
Over betting is something you can add to your game that will help you to become a more mysterious player that others struggle to work out, and that may lead them to make mistakes on the table that you can take advantage of.
Can the Check-Raise Work?
The check-raise is another tactic you can use if you are looking to build the pot quicker than with the betting across all three streets. With this tactic, you check on your turn to move the decision to your opponent in the hope that they bet, and then you come back and raise them.
This puts them in the ascendency because they are the player making a bet, but then you get to be the one controlling the pot and upping it because you are the one trying to raise.
The reason why this strategy is well-liked and works is that it offers the chance to get two rounds of betting in each time. The first is the bet that your opponent plays and the second is your raise, which is why this will build the pot quicker than just betting on every street.
If there is a negative to this tactic then it is very easy to spot for your opponents, and it is something that will instantly raise alarm bells with them. They will see what you are doing and then will know to be wary around the hand that you have, so you may not get away with doing this too often.
There is also the chance of no betting taking place on a round. If you check then you are only going to see some betting in that round if your opponent bets and has the confidence to do so with their hand. If they don’t and just check through as you have, then the round will end with no betting, meaning a missed opportunity for you to raise the pot.
A position where a check-raise will work well is when you are pretty confident that one of your opponents is going to bet. You will get this from a feel for how they are playing on the table, and how confident they seem. If you do this right, your check will leave them to bet, they will bet and then you will come back, giving two rounds into the pot, which they will happily do, as they have not realised what your tactic is.
If you are going to do the check-raise tactic then make sure you do it sparingly and try to get a read on your table before you do it.
Don’t Underestimate the Importance of Pot Building
If there is one thing to take away from this and use in your poker game, don’t underestimate how important pot building is. Getting a great deal is only half of the battle, the real skill comes with making the most possible money from your great deal.
This is done by selectively building the pot and leading players on to bet against you because they don’t know how good your hand is.
Whatever tactic you have chosen, make sure you practice and execute at the right time to get the biggest impact on the tables.