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When to Value Overcard Hands in NLHE

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  • Upswing Poker August 15, 2020
  • 3 Minutes Read

So, you raised KQs and completely missed the flop? It might still be in your best interest to keep betting away!

As you will see in this article, there are some situations in which your overcard hands still have some solid value and can be used to put pressure on your opponents. Let’s get into it.

Situation #1

The spot: A heads-up, single-raised pot on a disconnected flop in which you are in position after raising preflop.

Example: You raise on the button and only the player in the big blind calls. The flop comes . Take a look below at how often a default Big Blind versus Button calling range makes a made hand on average:

The Big Blind range pictured here will hit the flop just 39.7% of the time. (Software used: Flopzilla)
The Big Blind range pictured here will hit the flop just 39.7% of the time. (Software used: Flopzilla)

 

Some boards will connect better than others, but disconnected boards are very hard to hit in general.

Disconnected flops need to follow a couple of rules:

  1. The top two cards don’t create straight draws or gutshots
  2. They are all made of different suits

This includes flops such as:

Check out how often a default Big Blind versus Button calling range has a made hand on .

The range pictured on the left will hit J-6-2 just 36.2% of the time.
The range pictured on the left will hit J-6-2 just 36.2% of the time.

 

This range misses the flop roughly 3% more often. Poker is a game of small edges, and 3% is a big edge to have.

Because of this advantage, you can bet hands like A3o, KQ, Q8s every single time!

Situation #2

The spot: A heads-up, 3-bet pot in which you are out of position after your preflop 3-bet was called.

Example: The player on the button raises, you 3-bet from the small blind and the player on the button calls.

In these situations, your range will almost always overpower your opponent’s range, so you can play very aggressively. It won’t matter much how connected the board is because you will (almost) always have an equity advantage due to your superior preflop range.

Here’s how PioSolver thinks the small blind should play on a flop of .

Every hand is a high-frequency bet on 983ss in a 3-bet pot (for two-thirds pot), including all overcard hands.
Every hand is a high-frequency bet on 983ss in a 3-bet pot (for two-thirds pot), including all overcard hands.

 

The solver likes to bet all overcard type hands, even though the flop is pretty connected. This is because your range has a whopping 56% equity on this board against a default button 3-bet calling range.

Situation #3

The spot: A heads-up, 3-bet pot in position after your preflop 3-bet was called.

Example: A player in the cutoff raises, you 3-bet on the button and the player in the cutoff calls.

This is an excellent spot for you, you’ll have a range advantage on almost every flop imaginable.

Your range will contain all of the overpairs, and some sets and two-pairs (depending on the flop), while your opponent’s range will mostly be made up of bluff-catchers and missed overcards with a small fraction of sets and even fewer two-pairs.

Even your overcard hands will have a lot of equity if your flop c-bet is called, and you have the power of position. This gives you the option to check back on bad turn cards for your range/hand.

Here’s how the button (you) should play a flop according to PioSolver:

Every hand is a high-frequency bet on 7-3-2 (for a third pot), including all overcard hands.
Every hand is a high-frequency bet on 7-3-2 (for a third pot), including all overcard hands.

 

Once again, the aggressor (you) has a huge advantage on this board — close to 56% equity against a standard preflop 3-bet calling range from the cutoff. Because of this, you can bet your entire range for a one-third pot sizing.

Final Thoughts

Overcard type hands have very low EV in some spots, but they can also be valuable in other spots, like the three examples shown above.

Keep studying, keep improving, and start implementing what you’ve learned.

Playing too passively with overcard hands in these three spots will hurt your win-rate in the long run!

Note: Ready to join the 5,301 players currently upgrading their No Limit Hold’em skills? Use coupon code STUCK50 to get $50 off the Upswing Lab training course. But hurry, because this code expires on August 28. Learn more now!

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