The Capitalization of Dead Money

Pretend you’re sitting in a 10 handed $5/$10 NL cash game and you raise to $40 from early position with pocket 6s. The action folds to the big blind, who defends and calls your raise. The flop turns over Qs5d3h. Your opponent checks to you and you’re looking at a pot of 85 dollars. Should you bet? Why? What would you be trying to accomplish if you bet? You most likely wouldn’t want your flop bet to get called because you know your opponent either would be likely beating you or at least live (has some number of outs to beat you). Also, if we know our hypothetical opponent in this example would never fold pocket 7s or better, then you wouldn’t be looking to bluff him out of the pot with your flop bet. However, there is 85 dollars sitting dead in the middle of the table. You could win it just by betting.

This may sound like a value bet but there is one main difference. A value bet is generally a bet that you want your opponent to call with a hand worse than yours. You clearly would rather not be called here because you would have no clue if you were actually ahead in the hand or not. You definitely wouldn’t want to get check-raised because pocket 6s cannot stand much resistance on a Qs5d3h board. When you bet with a hand that is probably winning but overall fairly weak, you’re generally hoping your opponent will fold and you can pick up the pot immediately. The primary reason for your bet is not value; it’s strictly to win the pot. This concept is called the capitalization of dead money. If your bet makes your opponent(s) fold, whether or not you had the best hand, and you win, you just capitalized on the dead money that was sitting in the pot.