Pot Committed: What it is and isn’t

pot committed

Being pot committed is a term used regularly in cardrooms and you may have used it too. However, truthfully, many players are using the term incorrectly and misapplying it. In this article, I’m going to try to help my readers understand what it means, how to apply it to your game, and how not to use it too. For those of you already familiar with what pot commitment is all about, it should be a nice refresher course.

What pot committed means

Being pot committed means you have to “go” with your hand and be prepared to go all in. The reason you have to do this is because the odds being laid are too lucrative to turn down. If your chances of winning are greater than the odds, you’re pot committed.

For instance, you may have pocket tens on a Js 9d 6h flop and your opponent has moved all in after three betting pre-flop. In this situation, you may calculate that you have approximately 30% chance of winning and your pot odds require your hand be best only 15%. Therefore, you are compelled to  call as you are pot committed.

The pot committed fallacy

The problem many players make is taking pot commitment concept and misapplying it. They don’t use any maths to calculate whether or not they are making a profitable long-term call. Instead, they just casually assume they are too heavily invested to consider folding.  The difference between a tough winning player and a calling station is the tough player is combining maths with hand reading to make their decision. A calling station is stubbornly making the call and justifying it by saying they’re “pot committed”.

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How to use pot committed concept properly

Now you know what it means and that you shouldn’t run after bad money, lets take a look at how you should be using it properly in real time. Below are some tips to applying it correctly for cash games and tournaments.

1) Use maths and odds over your feelings

People can be too emotional and make decisions based on their “feelings”. This is definitely the case in live poker but I’m sure it is true for online too. Avoid the temptation to act quickly. Make sure to always work out the maths and odds before arriving at your decision.

2) Resist urges to speculate for a high % of your stack

A common mistake made in getting pot committed is speculation. Players might 4 bet light or call 3 bets too wide out of position. They then find themselves risking too much chips with marginal hands. Obviously there is a time to take risks and its usually for smaller amounts and when stacks are deep. An easy way to avoid getting pot committed lightly is to resist speculating if it means putting a lot of your chips in.

3) Use hand reading as much as possible

Whilst there is no precise science to calculating how often your ahead, you should be using your hand reading skills as much as possible. This means narrowing your opponents ranges as much as possible. This is something the best players are doing intuitively throughout a hand. A pot committed scenario usually happens on the latter streets i.e. the turn or river. This is due to the fact a player has been calling down bigger bets.

By hand reading properly you should be able to narrow it down pretty accurately and in combination with the odds being laid, arrive at a reasonable estimate of how good your hand is likely to be. Don’t give opponents too high a percentage for bluffing though! In my experience, players aren’t doing huge bluffs as often as we like to think.

Final thoughts on pot committed strategy

I hope this article has given readers a thorough understanding of what being committed is and can use it appropriately. The main takeaways from this should be to not use it as an excuse to go allin, use your hand reading skills to make your decision and if you’re truly pot committed, don’t be folding.

For the experienced readers who know pot commitment, I hope you just take your time over decisions in the future. If this article helps saves you money or makes your money, then I’ve succeeded.  If any of you are interested in having me review hands where you thought you were pot committed, feel free to book in a hand history review session with me below. I’ll be happy to review and offer feedback.

Narciso Baldo is the Director and Head Coach of Texas Hold'em Questions. He has been playing poker for over 16 years. After spending many years as a professional, he now runs UK poker training site Texas Hold'em Questions. Narciso regularly writes poker articles sharing tips, strategy, news and experience with gambling enthusiasts. Narciso also writes for reputable gambling portal Casino City Times, (bio here). Contact: info@texasholdemquestions.com