Reasons To Bet - Dead Money


Reasons To Bet > Betting To Win Dead Money

Winning Dead Money

There is actually a third reason for betting, and that’s to win the "dead money" from the pot.

It’s trickier to explain than betting for value or betting as a bluff, as it’s not quite as clear cut. It’s almost like it’s somewhere in between the two. This is why I’m dedicating a serrate article to this third reason for betting to help explain it as best as I can.

Quick reminder of the first two reasons for betting.

  1. For value - We think we have the best hand and we want our opponent to call.
  2. As a bluff - We think we have the worst hand and we want our opponent to fold.

Those are easy enough. You either want your opponent to fold a better hand or you want them to call with a worse one - that’s where we make our money in poker.

Third reason for betting - to win the dead money.

  1. To win dead money - We could easily have either the best or worst hand, but we bet to win the money that is currently in the pot. We want our opponent to fold.

It does seem as though this is just a stab in the dark with little logic behind it, but it does have value. Betting to win dead money is usually a better play because checking is a slightly worse play, and these are the only two options we have.

It’s not going to be a super +EV play to bet to win dead money, but it is +EV and that’s the important thing.

We have equity in the hand, and we don’t want to give up on that equity on the flop by checking.

Betting to win dead money example.

The most common situation you will find yourself in for betting to win dead money is when you are on the flop making a continuation bet with a hand that has missed.

The hand.

$1/$2 NL Texas Hold'em (as usual).

We raise in MP before the flop and get one caller in the BB. Everyone else folds.

Our Hand: 8h 8s
Flop: 4c Jh Ad

Our opponent checks this flop and the action is on us. What’s the best play here?

The decision.

Well, we’ve missed the flop and we could easily either have the best or worst hand here. There’s nothing to suggest that we’re ahead or behind, so we’re pretty much in the dark when making our decision here. Nonetheless, we can either make a continuation bet or check behind and see the turn.

  • Trying to categorize our bet as a bluff or for value.
  • We don’t expect to fold out a better hand, which means that we are not betting as a bluff.
  • We don’t expect a worse hand to call, which means that we are not betting for value.

On the other hand, if we check we are giving so many hands like KQ, KT and QT the opportunity to see a free card and outdraw us. Furthermore, there is also the small opportunity for us to fold out hands like 99 and TT.

There are a lot of arguments for checking the flop here, however… we should bet to take down the dead money.

Why we should bet instead of checking.

We give our opponent the opportunity to fold a wide range of hands.

The reason we should bet here is not necessarily because it’s an awesome +EV play, but more because it’s a better option than checking behind. Sure, if we get called we’re probably behind, but if we check we’re losing the initiative and giving our opponent the opportunity to overtake us. Also, by not checking we do not give our opponent the opportunity to fold.

It’s not an easy or clear-cut play, but betting to win the dead money is the best option here.

Getting called when betting to win dead money.

The last thing we want is to get called when we’re betting to take down the dead money.

Seeing as we’re not betting for value, if we get called it’s unlikely that we hold the best hand. We’re really hoping to see our opponent fold.

If we do get called it’s not the end of the world though, as there may be opportunities to win the hand on the turn or on the river by bluffing or improving. Either way though, don’t force yourself in to bluffing when called, as it’s not vital to win the hand as the bet on the flop on its own is likely to be +EV over the long run anyway.

In a nutshell, don’t bluff for the sake of bluffing when called after betting to win dead money.


As I mentioned at the start of this article, betting to win dead money really isn’t as clear as it is to bet for value or to bet as a bluff. We are usually betting to win dead money because checking is a worse option than betting.

Value betting and betting as a bluff are the main two reasons for betting to focus on, where betting to win dead money is sub-reason for betting that you will get better at over time.

Usually, I would say that if you’re not betting for value or betting as a bluff then you should not bet at all. For the majority of situations in no limit Texas Hold’em, this is some pretty sturdy advice to follow.

Go back to the awesome Texas Hold'em Strategy.


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