A player is said to be pot committed when he has crossed the point of no return with his chip stack. He has invested enough chips where it would now be incorrect to fold against further action.
In this short guide to pot commitment we’ll discuss the following frequently asked questions:
When Are We Pot Committed in Poker?
The more chips we invest, the better the price (pot odds) we get if our opponent goes all in. We therefore need less and less pot equity in order for it to be correct to call against an all-in bet from our opponent. Once our pot equity is larger than the equity required when facing an all-in jam we are pot committed.
How Much of Our Stack Can we Invest Before Being Pot Committed?
It absolutely depends on the type of hand we have. For example, if we have a trash holding we might never be pot committed despite investing a large chunk of our stack. Alternatively, if our holding has good pot-equity it will become committed much faster, even if relatively a small percentage of our stack has been invested so far.
How Should We Play When Pot Committed?
Being pot committed means that we should not fold at any point during the hand (unless things shift dramatically when additional cards are dealt). It does not however mean that we need to shove all in ourselves or that getting the entire stack in is even desirable. It depends heavily on the situation. Calling down (and not raising at any point) will be correct with some of the weaker pot committed holdings.
When Should We Commit With a Wider Range?
We should stack off with a wider range if our opponent is looser and/or prone to bluffing. We should also commit with a wider range when a large amount of the chips have already gone into the middle. The larger the pot, the better the price we get on a call and the less equity is required in order to go all in.
When Should We Commit With a Tighter Range?
We should stack off with a tighter range if our opponent is tight and/or rarely bluffs. We should also look to commit with a tighter range when the stacks are deep. Certain hands which we are pot committed with at 100bb stacks might be losing all ins at 200bb deep.
Can We Still Fold After Investing a Third of Our Stack?
Yes, it can be correct to fold after investing 1/3rd of our stack, despite popular advice to the contrary. It purely depends on the type of hand we have (weaker hands are less likely to be pot committed even after investing a large chunk of the chip stacks). The board runout is also important, a hand might be committed on earlier streets but not committed on later streets if the runout is bad.
Good players develop an intuitive feel for when they are pot committed and when they are not. It’s not pure gut feeling however, SPRs (stack to pot ratios) help to provide a mathematical framework for understanding which types of hands are pot committed given the scenario. Why not check out this glossary entry on pot commitment?