Poker Strategy, The ‘Pot Sweetener Bet’

How And When To Use Pot Sweetener Bets In Poker Tournament Strategy

The Pot Sweetener Bet is a speculative move made with a hand which has high implied-odds value before the flop. The idea is to make the pot a little bigger on the flop, meaning that building a monster pot is made easier those times you do hit a strong hand.

Using this move necessitates deep stacks and a read on your opponents that they are not too likely to come over the top with a big raise – and example of the pot sweetener in action will demonstrate how this move works..

You are in late position with a pair of 4’s, stacks are close to the 3000 starting chips and the blinds are at 30 / 15. There are 3 limps ahead of you and you choose to sweeten the pot by mini-raising to 60. The players behind you fold and the original limpers call your raise. Here you are not intending to take the pot away with some fancy post flop play. The bet was made to ensure that those times you do spike a hidden set with a flopped 4 it will be far easier to get all in… let us look at the math assuming one of your opponents hits a hand such as top pair.

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If you had limped – pot on the flop (including the blinds) would be 185, a pot sized bet on the flop, if called, would make this 555, you would have approx 2800 behind and 2 streets left to get it all in, a difficult task against a player with only a top-pair type hand.

Now including the limp – now the pot on the flop would be 285, a pot size bet again gets called in one place, bringing the pot size to 855, you still have a lot of chips for sure, however a half pot on the turn would now get many more chips into the pot – and hopefully keep an opponent with top pair in the hand… the 1600 pot on the river could then be bet for value.

Pot Sweetener Bets - Making Getting All-In By The River Possible

What the initial pot sweetener has achieved here is to make the task of getting your chips into the pot when you do hit a big hand easier. You can build over several streets without ever over betting the pot, giving you the potential to keep an opponent with a good but not great hand interested in contesting the pot with you.

While the pot sweetener can be an effective weapon in deep stacked tournament strategy it should not be over-used. The risk is that your small raises become predictable, and astute opponents simply re-raise – denying you the correct odds to play your hand at all.

Pot Sweetener Bets


Pot Sweetener Bets - List Of Other Important Criteria

There are several other criteria for ensuring that these bets are effective, including:

  • Tournament Type: This move is less effective in SNGs, as the chips you lose when folding (the majority of the time) are valuable for later stage play.
  • Stack-Sizes: If either you or your opponents have 25 or less blinds then limping works just as well – and is cheaper!
  • Aggressive / Tricky Opponents: The likelihood of a raise from a player yet to act is a key factor. If one of the early position limpers is a tricky player you also need to beware, there may be a strong hand intending to re-raise!


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