Tips for Multi-way Pots
More often than not while playing no-limit hold’em tournaments – especially during the later stages – players find themselves in pots where they are heads up to the flop. Hence we find ourselves more practiced in heads-up situations and lacking in multi-way pots with more than 3 players paying to get a look at the community cards.
The strategy required for betting in multi-way pots is a vast topic that requires tremendous study. Breaking it down, however, a few simple pointers can be kept in mind that could go a long way in making or saving you a lot of chips when you are up against several players in pre-flop or post-flop situations.
1. Preflop Calling Ranges and Starting Hand Selection:
While Hands Such as A-10, K-J and Q-J are strong in heads-up situations, multi-way pots are a completely different ballgame. Unless you hit the absolute nuts, you are never comfortable inflating a pot or betting into an already inflated pot with 3 or 4 players left to act even with the top pair.
It would be better to re-raise such hands preflop in order to isolate a single player and play him heads-up post flop, or simply fold semi-strong holdings such as A-10, K-J and Q-j when faced with a situation like – “Raise, Call, Call” and its your turn to act with several players including the Big Blind (who will most likely defend due to the price) is left to act behind you.
2. Call Less and Play Tighter:
In multi-way situations where you are facing a bet and especially if there are players left to act behind, your calling range has to be a lot tighter than in heads-up pots. The reason for this is that the initial better whose profile might otherwise suggest a bluff or semi-bluff during heads-up play, will not bet lightly into 3 or more players.
The spot in which you will see the most number of multi-way pots is usually always the Big Blind since you get such a great price to defend. However, you are always out of position as the big blind so this is exactly where your betting as well as calling ranges have to be much tighter in multi-way situations. Hands such as ‘9-3o’ and ‘J-4o’ that do not play well post-flop and could get you stuck in pots should be avoided even defending for a decent price.
3. Slow Playing your Big hands Should be avoided:
UTG (First to act) raises, UTG + 1 Calls, High Jack calls, you call with 55’s in the cutoff, Button calls, Small Blind as well as Big Blind complete. Flop comes out Jd10d5c. If the pot is checked to you, in such a multi-way pot with a decent amount of money already in the center, it is always advisable to bet rather than slow play by checking.
If the initial raiser or any player before you bets, it would be better to re-raise at that spot than call and allow other players with various draws to see a cheap turn. In heads-up pots, just calling or even checking back 1 street is fine since the opponent is unlikely to have got a piece of the board. In multi-way situations however, checking or just calling here would just be plain – Bad!
4. Bluff Less and with Selective Hands:
Airball bluffing or bluffing with less to 0 equity in multi-way pots should be totally avoided. The reason for this is that when there are more than 3 players in a hand, the chances that someone has caught a piece of the board is very high. Bluffing into 3 or 4 players will end up in you losing a ton of chips over time.