Being Pot Committed

pot committedI often hear people misuse the term “pot-committed”, and typically it’s just an excuse to make poor betting decisions on a hunch or an unexplainable “good-feeling”. Poker players make bad calls and justify it to themselves by announcing to others at the table, “I was pot-committed.”

This is one of the topics I’ve had the most discussions and occasional argument about with my fellow poker players whilst at the table. While it’s arguably an actual thing in poker, it is more often than not mistakenly thought to be the same as pot-odds. A player is “pot committed” if he has already invested so many chips in the pot that he can no longer fold if he is raised all-in. Pot-odds simply dictate that your wager is a secure one.  I’ll use an example from a game I recently played:

A friend of mine was sitting to my left is in a six handed table. He was holding 10J (non suited), and had an open-ended straight draw on the flop (Q,K,6). Acting third in the hand, he decides to chase the straight all the way to the river after a 7 of hearts makes an appearance on the turn. With four of the six players staying in, the pot has become larger than average for the evening.

The first player to act (short stack) goes all-in; the second player does the same. My friend, feeling “pot-committed” follows. I folded my hand and sat back to see how this was going to pan out. After the river card, the board read Q-K-6-7-9 with three hearts showing. My friend bets on the check even though he is drawing dead. Even if the first all-in bet was a bluff, it is highly unlikely that the second all-in was also a bluff below a 10J. Sufficient to say my friend lost the hand and the majority of his chips.

My argument to him and for sake of this article is simple; unless you’re playing heads up, putting money in the pot when you’re drawing dead is a foolish act. The calculated pot-odds support this hypothesis. The last word on when to submit to being “pot-committed” is dependent on how confident you are in your reads.