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Old 12-21-2005, 12:23 AM
lgas lgas is offline
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 47
Default Being Committed

After discussing with a friend how the basic idea behind pot control is that you should keep the pot small when you aren't committed to it and try to grow the pot when you are committed, he pressed for a clear definition of committed-ness, as opposed to my attempts at simple examples... which is when I realized that while I have a pretty good idea in my head of when I'm committed and when I'm not, I don't know if I've ever read a clear discussion on if, either in books or on this forum. Is there some part of HPAP or TOP that covers the notion of pot committed-ness in detail, and I'm just forgetting it, or what?

If not, then let's discuss. (I'm aware that it's context dependent -- i.e. its different in limit vs. NL, ring vs tourney, etc but I figure its a general poker concept so it belongs in this forum).

A related concept that I've been thinking about is that folding in a situation where many would consider themselves to be committed is probably one of the places where some of the best laydowns can be made -- not that you'd want to get in the habbit of doing this often, but in situations where you have a flush vs. an unlikely boat or something like that, and the potential boat moves in on you for only 1/8 of the pot, you generally have to call as long as you don't think he has the boat more than 7/8ths of the time... but if you can be certain that he does THIS time, then you can make a great laydown.... of course most reasonable players won't push into you when you are clearly committed if they aren't holding the nuts.... but that's just one more argument that you're beat... so I imagine playing in committed or near-committed situations is one of the times when reads become most critical... of course this may apply more to B&M than anything else, but I think it's a fairly interesting topic.

P.S. I tried search, but I can't think of any good terms to narrow the results with and there are way too many mentions of "+pot +committed"

P.P.S. Might as well just skip the jokes about fear of committment etc, they're too obvious.
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Old 12-21-2005, 03:51 AM
ohnonotthat ohnonotthat is offline
Senior Member
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: New Jersey - near A.C.
Posts: 511
Default Re: Being Committed

This concept is discussed in a number of places; the one that first jumps to mind is in "Slansky On Poker". The reference is to razz.

I'll have to paraphrase; my books are not handy.

"If you start with a good but not great hand - i.e., 7-5-2 - you probably don't want to build a huge pot on 3rd street. Not putting in that last raise allows you to punish your opponents when you [correctly] fold if you catch bad on 4th while he/she/they catch good.

Conversely, with a monster - i.e. 3 to a wheel where the cards you need are live - always get n the last raise. Your hand is so good you are almost forced to go to 5th even when your opponent(s) outcatch you; this being the case, you might as well inflict additional punnishment on them for the times when YOU catch good [on 4th] and they don't.

If you thought this up on your own with no assistance you should be proud in spite of the fact that the concept already existed.

The wheel is thought to have been invented more or less simultaneously in as many as a half dozen places; no special credit should be given to the person who just happened to be first.

- Chris
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Old 12-22-2005, 02:57 AM
lgas lgas is offline
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 47
Default Re: Being Committed

Thanks for the reply -- I didn't mean to imply that I had come up with the concept on my own -- but rather that I was unable to recall any of specific places that I had read about it.

But further more... your response addressed pot control in relation to being committed whereas I'm just interested in the notion of committedness in and of itself.

E.g. is there a specific definition of what it means to be pot committed? Is it when a certain portion of your stack is already in the pot? Or maybe more accurately, when the pot size exceeds your stack size by some amount? Or is it a matter of the ratio of your remaining stack to the pot vs. your assumed odds?

What other factors affect whether you are committed or not?

For example could you find yourself in identical situations in terms of blind sizes vs. stack size and hands and boards in a cash game and in a tournament, but be committed in the tournament but not in the cash game (because you can refill in the cash game, but if you fold in the tournament you won't have a reasonable chance to win).

Can you be committed due to meta game considerations only? e.g. you're playing limit hold 'em and you 4-bet the flop, so you can't get away from the hand now or it will incite your opponents to run over you in future hands? Can being committed in this way make it +EV over the long run to make a -EV (in the short run) play right now?

What other factors are relevant when trying to determine if you are committed or not?

Is this all really a lot more simple than I am making it, or is there some interesting ground that could be covered on this subject?
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Old 12-22-2005, 06:18 PM
AaronBrown AaronBrown is offline
Senior Member
Join Date: May 2005
Location: New York
Posts: 505
Default Re: Being Committed

You should never make any poker decision based on how much you have put into the pot, that money is gone, it's not yours any more. Another common error in a tournament is to assume you're pot committed because folding would leave you with such a short stack that your chance of winning is negligible. Those last few chips are worth more than their nominal value, so you should be more willing to fold rather than less if folding leaves you short-stacked.

I also don't like your example of being committed to prevent other players from running over you in future hands. That's a terrible reason to bet. Fold, then keep folding until you get the nuts, and then let them "run over you."

I define pot committed as a situation before the last bet in which you know you will not fold before showdown. This generally means two things:

(1) The pot is large relative to the potential amount you can put in (due either to limits or stack sizes), and

(2) You have a reasonable chance of winning even if another player bets as strongly as possible.

(1) is straightforward and easy to measure. (2) can come about in different ways. A player might be so loose, or bluff so often, that you always have a reasonable chance of winning. Or, your hand might be a surprising one, so that a player might bet very confidently against you and lose. Or, you might be in a common situation in which game theory dictates always calling and taking your lumps when someone gets a good draw.

It's important to know when you're pot committed, because it affects your betting strategy. Generally speaking, it makes you more aggressive. Since you know what you're going to do regardless of future cards or bets, you have no useful information to get, nor future decisions to make. In that case, you generally want to take away other players' decisions where possible, and force them to make remaining decisions now rather than later.

This is not always true. If you are pot committed out of pure strength, you may want other players to improve so you can get more money out of them. In that case, they think they're getting more information with future cards, but they really aren't because you'll beat them whatever cards come up. Or, you may think another player either has the nuts or is bluffing, in which case she isn't getting any information in the future. But you need a reason not to force the issue when you're pot committed, strong action is usually called for.
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Old 12-22-2005, 08:26 PM
shutupndeal shutupndeal is offline
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 31
Default Re: Being Committed

Aaron says some good sh*t somtimes! Lol, I cant get a thought down on paper, when I post it never comes out like I mean it I guess I will have to write it in notepad and edit it like the moron I am!
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