5 Easy Ways to Stop Overplaying Your Overpairs

Overplaying Overpairs
One of the biggest mistakes that I see small stakes poker players making these days is overplaying their overpairs.

You know, they have a hand like pocket queens and the board comes all low cards. They get all of their money in the middle without even thinking what the other guy is representing.

And of course he turns over the set or two pair to win the pot.

This also happens when there is an overcard on the board. For example, many people will get married to their pocket kings even when there is an ace on the flop and the other guy very likely has it.

So in this article I am going to give you 5 easy ways to stop overplaying your overpairs and start saving money!


1. An Overpair is Just One Pair


The first way to stop overplaying your overpairs is just to restructure way that you think about them. You need to understand that your pocket aces, pocket kings and so on are just one pair.

That's it.

You don't have a license to print money just because you get dealt one of these hands. In fact they will wind up NOT being the best hand at showdown around 25% of the time which is by no means an insignificant amount.

And if it is a large multi-way pot (as often happens at the micro stakes) then the chances of your pocket rockets ending up as the best hand at showdown may not even be above 50%!

overplay overpair pocket aces

The bottom line is that it is ok to get a little bit excited when you look down and see two beautiful aces, kings, queens, jacks etc. but you should also realize that this is just one pair.

Usually in No Limit Hold'em when a big pot is played the winner will show up with something that beats a one pair hand.


2. Recognize When There Are Overcards and Slow Down


The next way to stop overplaying your overpair so much is to recognize when there are overcards on the board and respect that.

Here are the chances of an overcard flopping when you have a big pocket pair:

KK - 23%
QQ - 43%
JJ - 59%
TT - 71%
99 - 81%

As you can see with pocket KK you will see an ace on the flop nearly 1 out of 4 times and by the time you get down to pocket 9's it is overwhelmingly likely that you will see an overcard on the flop.

The bottom line here is that when you have any pocket pair (excluding AA of course), you should expect to deal with seeing overcards on the flop, turn or river often.

And you need to respect this. While an overcard on the board doesn't necessarily mean they have it, you need to respect the fact that they might have it.

Here is an example of an overplayed pocket JJ on a queen high flop.



When you have a large pocket pair and an overcard falls on the flop, turn or river you simply have no choice but to slow down.

You should be check/calling most of the time and even check/folding in some cases. You definitely should not be raising unless you are playing against a total maniac.

Remember this key point and you will stop losing so much with your overpairs.


3. Understand the Difference Between a Coordinated Flop and a Dry Flop


There are a ton of different flop textures in Texas Hold'em.

In fact if you have read my 2nd book Modern Small Stakes then you will know that starting on page 244 I break down 11 different types of flops including:
  • Single broadway
  • Double broadway
  • Triple broadway
  • Rainbow paired
  • Raggedy
  • Coordinated broadway
  • Coordinated middle
  • Coordinated small
  • Bingo
  • Two-tone paired
  • Monotone double broadway

Now you don't need to know the specifics of how to play every single one of these flops nor do I have the time to get into all that here anyways. That is why I write poker books!

What you do need to know though is the difference between a highly coordinated flop and a dry flop. Most flops in Texas Hold'em are the latter, dry.

This means that it is hard for anybody to have hit them hard. There aren't many draw possibilities or plausible two pair hands either.


Here are a few examples of dry flops:

K72

884


Coordinated flops as you can probably guess are the exact opposite. They are action heavy boards that contain multiple draws, pair + draw, two pair and set possibilities.


Here are a few examples of highly coordinated flops:

456

789


One of the best tips that I can give you to stop overplaying your overpairs is to respect coordinated boards like this and try to play a smaller pot like I just discussed in overcard situations.

Most of the time versus any kind of competent opponent, if you choose to play a really big pot on coordinated boards like this they will either have you crushed or have massive equity with a huge draw.

In other words there is no scenario where you are winning big. Slow down on action heavy coordinated flops. You don't need to play a huge pot every time you have an overpair.


4. Understand When Your Overpair is Not the Best Overpair


The next common mistake that I see newer poker players in particular making with overpairs is not recognizing when somebody is representing a higher overpair.

Let me give you an example of this.


You have 99 and you raise it up preflop from early position.

A tight regular re-raises you from middle position and you call.


The flop comes 552

You check, he bets and you call.


The turn comes 6

You check and he bets again.


What should you do???

This is a common spot where many people will just blindly call down with their pocket 9's without even realizing that their opponent is very clearly representing a higher overpair here.

It all starts preflop when a tight regular 3Bets your early position open. This is a very strong play and usually represents a big pocket pair or a big ace at minimum.

Then he proceeds to double barrel you on a small rainbow paired flop and another low turn card. You can choose to call down but I can guarantee that he is going to show you TT, JJ, QQ, KK or AA here very often.

Or you can recognize when somebody is clearly telling you that your overpair is not the best overpair and make the correct laydown.


5. Recognize the Power of the Turn and River Raise


Something that I talk about a lot is understanding what certain lines mean in micro stakes poker games. By this I mean knowing what a preflop 3Bet and a double barrel from a tight player means as we just discussed in the previous section.

The great thing about the micro stakes is that most players do not mix up their ranges very well. In other words, they tend to make the same actions with the same hands again and again.

And this of course makes them incredibly easy to read.

So another common line that lower stakes players take that is super easy to read is the turn or river raise. In fact as I talk about in Crushing the Microstakes:
  • The turn raise is usually the nuts
  • The river raise is always the nuts

You can literally take these two principles to the bank if you are playing any kind of low stakes poker game online or at the casino.

When they raise the turn they are usually going to have something that beats one pair. When they raise you on the river, they are always going to have something that beats one pair.

Always remember that an overpair is just one pair.


Final Thoughts


One of the biggest steps that you can take to start improving your poker results is to stop overplaying your overpairs. So many small stakes players routinely do this and it ends up costing them big time.

So first off you need to always remember that your overpair is just one pair. Yes, I know those two queens look so pretty but it is just one pair. It can easily lose.

Secondly, you need to recognize when there are overcards on the board or you catch a highly coordinated action heavy flop. You need to slow down and play a smaller pot in both of these cases.

Lastly, you need to remember to read lines correctly at the micros from various player types and understand when they are representing a higher overpair or something that beats one pair when they raise the turn or the river.

If you want to know the complete strategy I used to create some of the highest winnings ever recorded at the micro stakes online, grab a copy of my free poker cheat sheet.


Do you overplay your overpairs? Let me know in the comments below.

overplay overpairs



15 comments:

  1. excellent article Nathan. I post your articles in my facebook group, microballers, the guys love them. hope you dont mind. keep up the good work

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    1. Thanks Mark! Appreciate the support in your Facebook group as well.

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  2. Thanks Nathan, I needed this, probably more than most! What about C betting (IP and OOP) when there is an overcard? Any helpful advice for that? Thanks again.

    Gary

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    1. Hey Gary glad this article helped!

      That's a tough spot and I mix it up a lot depending on the player type. For example, if I have KK and the flop comes Axx I may check/call a little more often than CBet versus a really aggressive player. Versus a calling station or a weak reg, I may CBet more often.

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  3. First, this is a good example of why JJ is so hard to play. One thinks of it as a premium hand, but there are 3 better premiums and they often hit a flop (or seem to, anyway). Second, I'm very wary when an opponent throws a dinky bet in on the turn. It is almost always intended to induce you to go big, and it works much of the time. To me it's pretty much a signal that my opponent has the nuts and it's time to dump the hand.

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    1. It's true, it's one of the hardest hands to play in poker. JJ is still a big winner over the long run though.

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  4. Watched one of you videos last night, you had KK and went all in $1.80 i think against 2 fish, smaller stacks and lost to AA, OTHER GUY HAD QQ. You were on the button if i remember. But your explanation really helps in that you say it happens and sometimes you hit, other times you don't, just carry on and give it no thought. Liked that, no tilt. Long Run,

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    1. Thank you, glad that video helped you!

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  5. Great read Thanks, hope You have a Great day Nathan Peace . . .

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  6. My best strategy for not overplaying an overpair is at first looking at the board texture and not barreling 75% of the pot in every street when a TAG calls the first two streets. There might be sets or made draws on the river.
    My rule: An overpair is just a very good pair, neither a set or a street etc.

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  7. Hey Nathan! I have a question about the 99 on the 552 board. Generally when you call a 3 bet with 100bb you will have put in about 10% of your stack. Professional no limit vol 1 describes this as the commitment threshold and any bet made beyond this point should commit you to the hand. How can we justify calling the flop bet just to fold to a turn barrel? Thanks!

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    1. Hi,

      Sorry but I can't comment on other books that I haven't read. However, it is pretty standard to at least call one bet with an over pair against almost anyone.

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    2. Yeh it is an old book. Basically the 10% thing is to avoid putting in a third of your stack cause otherwise the oods are too good to fold if your opponent shoves. But I realise it mostly applies to pot sized bets. Anyways thanks for the fast reply!

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