When You Have An Overpair to the Board

Having an overpair to the board is usually a great spot to be in, but you still need to approach with caution. Check out our tips.

There are thousands of scenarios poker players find themselves daily. Having an overpair to the board is a common spot, and one that some players struggle with. Finding yourself with an overpair lends itself to winning the pot. However, tricky opponents or wet boards can halt you in your tracks.

What Is An Overpair?

Let us briefly talk about what an overpair is. It is exactly what it says on the tin, like many things in poker. It is a pair in the hole that is higher than any of the cards on the flop. For example, you raise with Ks-Kd, an opponent calls, and the flop comes Qs-7c-2d. Your pocket kings are an overpair because, discounting sets, the best hand your opponent can make with the flop is a pair of kings.

Indeed, a premium pair is not required for it to become an overpair. Finding yourself with pocket sevens on a 6c-5c-2s flop is still an overpair. You cannot make such a hand with 2x2x, 3x3x, or 4x4x. Why? Because it is impossible with 2x2x, and you make a stronger hand than a pair with 3x3x and 4x4x.

An Overpair On The Flop

Not all overpairs are created equally. It is more favorable to hold As-Ad on a Tc-6d-2s flop than it is Ts-Tc on a 7s-6s-2h board. You likely have the best hand in the first example, but you are vulnerable in example two.

The chances of receiving a pocket pair in the hole is a mere 6%, or once every 17 hands. Every poker players knows pairs are a rarity, which is where their strength lies. Using our first example, we raise preflop with As-Ad and an opponent calls. The flop falls Tc-6d-2s, and the action is on us.

First, we have a pair of aces, so we should be in good shape. Second, the board is dry with no flush draw and weak straight draws. We have the best hand unless our opponent specifically holds Tx-Tx, 6x-6x, 2x-2x, or a weird two pair combination, which is unlikely. A range of 22-JJ, 65s-JTs, and 98o-JTo means we are beaten only 8.91% o the time. This figure comes from Flopzilla which analyses a wealth of statistics. your opponent never has two pair, has an overpair a shade under 6% of the time, which is weaker than ours. They have top pair, a pocket pair below top pair, middle pair, or a weak pair some 65.34% of the time. Furthermore, they have no made hand 19.8% of the time.

Making a continuation bet here is the correct play. It builds the pot so we win more with our overpair. How your opponent acts and the turn card determine our next action.

How To Act After the C-Bet

There is every chance our opponent folds to our continuation bet, which is not ideal but we win chips. But what if he calls? Calling narrows his range. Depending on the opponent, we can discount parts of his range. Removing the gutshot draws and leaving pocket pairs and any piece of the board keeps us in good shape; villain has a set 11.1% of the time but is still losing 89.9% of the time. Nines, tens, and jacks are the only turn cards that reduce our equity to 70% of less. Tens are the worst because villain’s range has many in it.

The turn is the 9c, making the board Tc-6d-2s-9c. We are still a significant favorite because we deduced villain folded his 98 and 87 hands to our continuation bet. We lose 28% of the time here to two pair and sets.

Betting here and villain calling means they almost always top pair or a middle pair and do not believe you. A jack, eight or seven on the river are the only cards that leave us with 50% equity

Do Not Get Married To Your Hand

Having an overpair is a great spot because you likely have the best hand. Do not get married to, however, because this hand has many weaknesses. First, it is only one pair. Tricky players can put you in difficult spots, especially on draw-heavy boards.

Furthermore, firing a c-bet, and a turn bet only for villain to raise is a nasty spot. The Baluga Theorem dictates a fold here (be sure to check it out in the link) but it is player dependant like so many things are in poker. Good luck!

Brad Johnson

You name the game, and you can bet your bottom dollar that Brad has either played it or placed a wager on it! Brad calls himself a natural gambler, and someone who gains as much enjoyment from writing about the crazy game of poker as he does playing it.


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