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Are You Pot Committed?

There sometimes comes a point when you and the pot go from ‘just talking’ to ‘I guess it’s time to put a ring on it.’ Ok—maybe games of poker don’t play out in quite the same way, but you should still know that there may come a point where you just can’t get away from the pot.

It’s called pot commitment. Basically, if you’re pot committed, then it means that folding is never the right play. Though you may not necessarily shove all your chips into the middle, you will be forced to call if someone else does so.

By understanding why pot commitment happens and by paying attention to when you and your opponents are pot committed, you’ll make better decisions and win more chips.

How Does Pot Commitment Happen?

In a word, we become pot committed when our effective stack size isn’t large enough for us to get the information that we would need to fold. It means that we have a fairly strong hand and that we don’t have the resources at our disposal to figure out if we’re beat.

This comes down to a concept called stack-to-pot ratio, or SPR. It’s how many chips we have behind compared to how many are in the middle on the flop. For instance, if we have 200 chips and the pot contains 100, then our SPR is 2.

Once our SPR becomes low enough, generally 2 or less, then we often become pot committed when our hand has enough equity. If we have aces in our example, then we’re probably pot committed, regardless of the flop. Get ready to call some bets and play for stacks.

Pot Commitment Awareness

Besides being aware of your own pot commitment, you also need to look out for when your opponents are pot committed. After all, if you’re considering a bet on the flop, then you better have good value if your opponent’s stack is small.

There’s no point trying to bluff against someone who’s pot committed because they’re always going to call. If we don’t have any fold equity, then we shouldn’t bluff.

Because of pot commitment, we generally want to skew our ranges towards value hands when stacks become shallow.

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