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Getting More Money in the Pot by Not Raising

Sometimes - even with no more cards to come - you can get more money or at least as much money into a multi-way pot by calling instead of raising, and at the same time avoid the risk of a re-raise from the original bettor. You go for the overcall. That is, you call instead of raising in order to extract money from one or more of the players still in the pot behind you.

Suppose, after all the cards are out, the bettor to your right appears to have a hand you can beat. If you raise, that player will probably call, but if he re-raises, you're in trouble. At the same time, there are two players to your left whom you know you have beat. You also know they will call if you call, but they will fold if you raise. In such a situation it becomes absolutely incorrect to raise. You should only call. By calling you figure to win two extra bets from the players behind you, but by raising you will win only one extra bet at most when the original bettor calls your raise, which he may not even do. What's more, your raise could cost you two bets if the original bettor re-raises and you fold or three bets if he re-raises and you call with the second best hand. It could also cost you two bets if the original bettor calls your raise and turns out to have the best hand.

The situation at the end need not be as extreme as the one just described to make a flat call correct.

If you raise with your A, Q high-heart flush, the third player will probably fold, and the original bettor may throw away a small straight and not pay you off either. So you may not gain a thing by raising; at most you'll win one extra bet. And what if the original bettor re-raises, which he will do if he has, for example, an A, K high flush, especially since he knows you cannot have the king of hearts? (It's in the third player's hand.) By raising you lose two or three bets instead of the one you would have lost by calling. Furthermore, by just calling, you figure to win one bet from the player behind you when he calls too. So you gain exactly as much as you could have gained by raising, while you risk nothing.

In general, you should not usually raise but try for the overcall whenever all the cards are out and your hand is clearly better than any hand that might overcall behind you but not clearly better than the bettor's.

However, you must realize that to go for the overcall, you must be sure you have the player or players to your left beat. If there is some chance one of them has a better hand than yours but might not call your raise, it is critical that you do raise when you have a decent of having the original bettor beaten. You certainly don't want an overcall if it will cost you the pot.

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