There are several ways to control the pot. This can be done via the betting sequences or via the bet sizes.
Pot Control in Position
In position you have a lot of possibilities to influence the size of the pot, because it is always your opponent’s turn and thus can react to your actions. Different betting sequences allow you to make the pot different in size. “Top Pair Top Kicker” “Bet Flop, Bet Turn, Bet River” is ideal against bad players. A bad opponent will often call down with a worse pair and pay you off.
A check behind in position on the turn has several advantages. You often get more value from hands that would have folded against a normal bet. In addition, you lose less money if you are already behind the flush or a similarly strong hand. You can also keep the pot small, since the opponent has no way of making the pot bigger by re-raising. This is how you achieve the goal of keeping the pot small and under control with a medium-strength hand. If you are in front, you win the maximum. If you lie behind, you lose the minimum.
For example, if you are playing in position against an opponent who likes to check-raise the flop, you can check here to call the opponent’s bet on the turn with a medium-strong hand. Here you always have to weigh the protection of the hand with the Pot Control. Do you want to give the opponent three freecards on the flop, indicating that you only have a medium-strong hand?
Pot Control Out of Position
Out of position, pot control is of course a lot more difficult than in position. You always have to act in front of your opponent and can’t wait to see how you want to play your hand. A freecard on the turn, for example, is much less likely.
A check out of position on the turn often results in an opponent’s bluff bet. Furthermore, you keep the pot small by giving the opponent no opportunity to re-raise and thereby make the pot really big.
Pot Control with Monster Hands
Pot Control vs. Value Betting
Pot Control Bet Sizes
Inexperienced players often ask themselves which pot sizes are suitable for which situation. In position this problem is superfluous. Here you can simply wait and see how the opponent reacts and, accordingly, to keep the pot small, call or check. In some situations, a small bet is useful to prevent the opponent from betting on the next street.
You have to act first out of position. There are two options: beds or check. If the opponent never raises a bet, you can choose the smallest possible bet because this keeps the pot the smallest. But be careful: small bets are raised more often than large ones. Since small bets are often interpreted as weakness, you have to fold your hand often, even if the opponent is bluffing.
You should always choose your bet size in such a way that you can fold onto a re-raise relatively safely, but the pot is still kept small. The rule of thumb is: Everything well below 1/2 pot size is often interpreted as weakness and raised more often.
Pot Control Bed Sequences
In different situations there are different bet sequences to keep the pot small. In position against the pre-flop aggressor, who often plays C-bets, the standard sequence is: “Call Flop – Call” or “Check Behind Turn”. You have position and can call or check, depending on what your opponent is doing. From the turn card, the hand strength often changes in relation to the board structure. If you still want to go to the showdown, you should play a call or check behind. If you still have the strongest hand, but run the risk of running into a straight or a flush on the river, you should take the initiative yourself on the turn and not give your opponent a free card or a card for a small bet.
If you are the pre-flop aggressor yourself, “Bet Flop – Check behind Turn” is the standard bet sequence. You do a c-bet on the flop to take the pot as directly as possible and not to distribute any free cards. On the turn, however, you often encounter a better hand from your opponent. This is how you check to keep the pot as small as possible and avoid having to make difficult decisions on the river.
An alternative is “check behind flop – call turn”. There is no C-bet here. If the opponent checks a lot on the flop and plays very aggressively, you can play very well for pot control due to the check behind and is not forced to play a very large pot.
If you hold a monster hand, it is advisable to bet on the flop and turn after the C-Bet on the flop, as long as you are sure that you are still ahead. If you have QQ with a 3-7-K board, for example, it makes sense to place a C-Bet here. If the opponent calls, he will hold Ax but does not want to fold, he may have hit a small pair or maybe sees a chance of a flush. If the opponent places a re-raise, you can pretty much put him on top pair with a good kicker. B. AK or a flopped three of a kind. Here you also have to be able to fold the supposed monster hand.
Out of Position
Out of position against the pre-flop aggressor, a check is standard. The opponent has no way to raise the pot by raising. “Check / Call Flop – Bet Turn” is ideal for opponents who often play a C-Bet on the flop but then become more passive on the turn. However, good players often interpret this style of play as a weakness and try to collect the pot by bluffing on the turn. “Check / Call Flop – Check Turn” lends itself to opponents who continue to play aggressively on the turn.
If you are the pre-flop aggressor yourself, “Bet Flop – Check (Bet) / Call (Fold) Turn” is a standard bet sequence for medium-good hands. It is important to consider whether a check or a bet is better. Another alternative would be “Check / Call Flop – Check (Bet) Turn”. This unusual bet sequence seems very weak to many opponents, because you counterbet your good hands and your bluffs. If you only play with medium-good hands, you can be well assessed by the opponent. However, if you also play against an over-aggressive opponent, you can keep the pot quite small due to this sudden passivity.
Here we have summarized the most important points on the topic of “Pot Control”. Try to adjust the pot size to the strength of your hand, that is, maximize the pot with monster hands and minimize it with less good hands. Try to actively control the pot size, both in position and out of position. Also watch your opponents in hands where you are not playing to analyze their style and identify their bet sequences. Last but not least, do not get yourself into an uncomfortable situation too often by bluffs or high bets, in which you then change your game with the larger pot size or the money you have already invested.