Playing Overpairs On Wet Flops

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Overpairs are usually very easy to play. Be aggressive preflop, continue being aggressive postflop, and aim to get looked up by someone who couldn’t fold their second-best holding.

But sometimes the board is less than ideal, and sometimes draws complete. And in this hand – BOTH of those things occur! So let’s breakdown how to play overpairs on wet flops (and as-played, when draws get there)…


This hand was sent in by Alex and played at PokerStars at 5NL. Alex is dealt JJ and opens to 3bb from MP1. There are 3 callers and we go 4 way to a flop of

8♥ 7♥ 5♣

Zorro1957, from the big blind, leads into the field for $0.30.

We are given information that this is Alex’s first time playing against Zorro, so we are to presume that however an unknown person at a 5 No Limit would play like is how Zorro is going to act.

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Now we have a couple things we can do, we can call, or we can raise like Alex did. This decision is based off of how you think Zorro will act. Why would Zorro “donk” bet, or in other words, why would he make a bet into the previous street aggressor? What range is Zorro leading with and is it likely strong, weak, or balanced?

If you think Zorro is donking with any 8, 7, 6, 5, or hearts, basically any second best hands, then raising makes a lot of sense. Raising takes an exploitative approach to poker in that our opponent bet/calls too liberally and allows us to generate heaps of value. If you think he might have anything better and quite possibly have a stronger hand, then calling is the way to go. Raising when Zorro has a stronger hand is going to lead to a bet, raise, or 3bet battle that you won’t want to get into.

Also consider Dima and Grek, the players left to act. If they are weak then you don’t want to scare them off and just calling will invite them to continue with second-best hands.

In this actual hand, Hero raises, Dima and Grek fold and Zorro calls. At this point i would presume that Zorro would 3bet sets, 2 pairs, things like that – which is an important assumption as you’ll see on future streets.

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Now the turn is a 7♦, Zorro checks and Hero bets about half the pot. At this point many people would be panicking, thinking about whether or not Zorro has a full house, but that’s why we considered Zorro’s flop 3bet range beforehand. If we thought he would 3bet 87, 75, and 55 on the flop, why would we be nervous now about him having a boat? I don’t think its in the range given the fact that Zorro bet/calls the flop.

So the 7 can really only improve hands like 76 or 97 and I wouldn’t be too concerned about much else. Now we can focus on how to maximize value against 8 x, sticky 5 x, and draws. We can try to get the most money out of second best hands that will most likely pay to see the last card. So because of that, $1.16 is too small. If you know they would call with second best hands, why not make a larger bet?

Anyhow, Zorro calls, the river is a 2♥, and Zorro checks leaving it up to us to make a decision. If we think Zorro would call a shove with worse pairs, getting 3:1 then how many combos of those single pair hands exist compared to knew found flushes?

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There aren’t many possible hands that beat us other than a flush so we aren’t too worried and if we think Zorro will call a shove then go we go for it without much thought. If we think Zorro isn’t giving single pair action and is really only giving hearts action then calling is your best bet. In this situation Hero actually checks and loses to Zorro’s Q♥T♥. Losing pots happens, but much of this came down to assumptions, basic poker math, what pressure does (or doesn’t do), and bet sizing.

Remember, better sizing on the turn could have been a game changer here!


My name is James "SplitSuit" Sweeney and I'm a poker player, coach, and author. I've released 500+ videos, coached 500+ players, and co-founded the training site Red Chip Poker. Contact me if you need any help improving your poker game!

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