Mike Matusow said it best. "Overbetting gets calls."
Overbetting is a great tool to use, especially at lower levels of NL cash games and tournaments. In the right hands, it is an effective tool used to extract chips from an opponent. In the wrong hands, it generally means a bluff after a missed flush or straight draw or just plain tilt.
The best time to use it is if you WANT your opponent to think that you are on a busted draw, or on a steal. Let me give you a few examples, first of a "pretend steal", and then an overbet when you want your opponent to think that you have something that you don't.
My favorite time to use an overbet is when a big stack is in either the small or big blinds, I am in late position, and no one has acted in front of me. Now, I want my opponents to think that I am trying to steal their blinds. Let's say that I am dealt AA in late position. I currently have 30,000 chips, and there is a big stack in the BB with 210,000 chips. The blinds are currently 500/1000. Obviously you want to mix up your play, but I like the push here. Why? Often times, if the SB or BB has a hand like AQ, KJ, or any pair, they will call here, thinking that I am on a desperation steal, and pushing with just about any hand. I can't tell you the number of times that a big stack has called a push here with any paint cards. You want the big stack to think that you are on a steal.
Ok, now another situation. Let's say that you are dealt 66. You raise it up from middle position, and receive one caller, the SB. The flop comes 6 10 3 with two clubs. You are first to act, so you check. The SB, who has a bigger stack, bets out, probably trying to move you off your hand. A holding like A10 or J10 would be likely here. It is unlikely that your opponent would lead out here with a flush draw, especially after your preflop aggression. Call, to make it seem as though you are on a draw. The turn comes with a 9 of hearts. You check again, and your opponent bets out again. Run through the possible hands that your opponent might hold. Is 10/10 likely? Probably not, they likely would have repopped you preflop. You are most likely looking at a pair of tens here, and your opponent is likely drawing draw. I like a call here.
The river comes with a red 3, filling you up. Now, you've played this hand like you have AK of clubs. That's what you want your opponent to think. You just flat called both his bets, and it is very likely that your opponent is certain that he has the best hand right now, with a likely holding of two pairs, 10's and 3's. In this situation, the overbet is a GREAT move. Push all in here. Your opponent will call often enough here to make this a very profitable play overall. Your opponent has likely figured you for a flush draw, and will surmise that you missed your draw and are trying to steal the pot. He will be stunned when you turn over your full house.
Mix up your play. Overbet and underbet, that's what the good players do. Try to represent hands that you don't have. Confuse your opponent. That's how you accumulate chips.
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