How to Control the Pot in Online Poker

Pot control is an important poker skill only acquired through experience.

poker babe Shana Hiatt The general rule is that big hands are for big pots, and small hands are for small pots. Easier said than done.

In other words the type of situation you want to avoid is to have all your chips in the middle with top pair and little chance to improve. But if you have a set or better, you want the pot to be as big as possible.

This is the goal. The first thing is to always remember that concept of pot control and not let yourself getting carried away. The second thing is to know how to keep the pot at the right size.

Lack of Pot Control in Tournaments

If you play online poker tournaments, you will often see some players rapidly reaching a very big stack size. Until they make a big mistake like committing all their chips with TPTK, the capital error of pot control, collapsing and getting eliminated before the bubble.

This is two errors in one. Bad pot control. But also as a big stack, you should avoid fighting other big stacks and instead attack the smaller stacks who cannot hurt you seriously.

If you watch the leader board in the early stage of these online tournaments, many of the chip leaders are this type of players with very poor pot control skills. The few big stacks who do not disappear are the solid players who know how to keep their stack, in particular with good pot control.

Such good tournaments players use a strategy where they try to build a big stack fast, then play more carefully and use their stack to progressively steal more chips.

So at the beginning they will take big risks by trying to double up once or twice or even more times, but once they have a very large stack, they will only confront the small stacks, hence protecting their tournament survival. This is a good tournament playing technique.

What is pot control exactly?

The key elements for pot control are to bet the right amount and to know when to fold.

Know the amount to bet.

The amount to bet pre flop depends on a lot of conditions, such as your stack size and your position. But generally speaking a pre flop raise is between 2 and 5 big blinds, less in tournaments than in ring games.

Post flop, always remember that there are 3 more rounds of betting, so if you make big bets and get called all the way, chances are that you will be allin by the river. A more conservative approach is to bet somewhere between 50% and 80% of the pot. Even less at the turn or river.

How much you bet depends on a lot of things, first of which is the strength of your hand. Next it depends on who your opponent is. Against a very loose passive player, your weaker hands become stronger. So you can make bigger bets with TPTK.

But against a NIT who only plays strong hands, it is preferable to make smaller bets with such a vulnerable hand.

Pot control is related to the concept of commitment. You want to avoid getting committed with weaker hands, but you can also pretend to be committed by making a larger bet at the flop in order to induce a fold. This technique only works with "thinking players", as weaker players do not think how committed they are to a hand.

Know when to fold.

Of course you cannot exert pot control if you do not know how to fold a hand. In this regard, folding is probably the most important skill in NLHE.

If you raise someone as a semi-bluff with TPTK and get reraised, it is normally recommended to fold. So when you raise and you do not have the nuts, you must be ready to fold, and to have lost a big chunk of chips in the process.

Another common technique of pot control is the blocking bet, where you make a small bet first in order to induce a call, hence paying less than if your opponent had bet into you. Here again a raise indicates a strong hand and requires a fold.

Pot Control is risk control

Pot control is an important factor in No-Limit, that should always be on your mind when you play a hand.

Learn to control the pot, and your profits will rise.

The great players are known to make more money with their winning hands, and to lose less money with their losing hands. The secret is pot control.

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