Think Small: Using the Underbet to Win More Pots in Texas Hold'em
Someone flops top pair or two pair and there is a draw on the board, so they overbet to try and protect their hand.
However, a tool at the opposite end of the spectrum is the underbet. There are a few instances that you will want to incorporate an underbet in your strategy. Let’s look at a few.
Pricing Yourself Into Your Draws
Let’s say you have a hand such as A-9 suited in hearts in the big blind and three to four limpers come in the pot. This is a strange situation and someone is probably slow playing a big pair or you're against a bunch of medium speculative hands.
You flop the nut flush draw on a board of Kh-8h-3d. You're out of position and it's unlikely that you will be able to check around.
Consider underbetting the pot in this situation. In a $1-$2 game you're probably looking at $10 in the pot.
Bet about $3 to $4 here. A weak king is going to probably just call here as would a weaker flush draw, or even something like A-8.
If you are raised, evaluate the raise size. If it's small you may still have odds to chase your draw. If not, then you can comfortably get off your hand.
As a Bluff
You probably just read the title of this section and wondered how anyone could underbet on a bluff. I found this out by pure accident early in my poker career.
In a live Sit-N-Go I was a short stack and made a small raise. My opponent sat there for the next five minutes evaluating how tight I played and finally decided that I must have picked up aces or kings and decided to fold pocket eights to me.
I soon discovered that due to my tight nature I could sometimes underbet a pot and take advantage of this image.
Position is usually key to making a bluff underbet. Also, you probably should be viewed as someone who isn’t betting unless they have the goods. This makes you appear a bit tight-passive but it doesn’t matter if it works.
Holding the Nuts and Extracting Value
Let’s assume you hold a hand such as A-J against three players going to the flop. The flop falls K-Q-10. A standard bet very well will probably take the pot, but you don’t want that.
You could wait until the turn and try to induce a bluff but an underbet may work here as well. If you make an underbet and get called, then there is a good chance that they will call this type of bet to the river.
If you are fortunate and they improve to two pair or trips, you may be able to induce a huge raise or even a shove.
As with any type of move you need to use the underbet sparingly. If you are underbetting too often your opponents will catch on and start three betting and raising large against you.
Mix up the situations you make this type of play in. That way, you will have a better idea if they are playing back at you or if you have run into a monster.
Using the underbet properly adds another tool to your arsenal that will allow you to pick up more pots.