Don’t Bluff In Multiway Pots

In the majority of cases where you flop nothing in a multiway pot, you should simply give up. Check and fold. The major exception to this is when your opponents can rarely have a good hand. Take this example:

When the hijack bets this turn after checking the flop, you may be thinking to yourself, “So he didn’t like his hand on the flop but now he does? Well, I don’t trust him, but I only have eight high, so what can I do?” You can raise!

Think about the hijack’s range. The only hand that can be excited to get raised here is pocket sixes. Every other strong hand would have bet the flop. Besides sixes, the hijack will have ace-ten or king-jack that didn’t want to play a big pot, a turned flush draw, or total air. There’s only a very small part of that range that can withstand pressure. If you raise to $240, you’ll probably win outright 8 times out of 10.

If the hijack calls your turn raise, you should check back when a club comes on the river. While you could make an argument for betting no matter what comes – your hand will look like a flush or a turned monster – your opponent’s range is too heavily weighted towards flushes on this river. You should only continue bluffing here if you think your opponent would always bet right into you on the river if he made a flush. If that’s the case, then you can remove flushes from his range and make a profitable bluff.

On any non-club river, you should continue your bluff. Your opponent’s range should be made up of busted club draws and a few stubborn pairs. You still only have eight high, though, so you need to bet to win.

While a flop bet into a large field often indicates strength, a turn bet after a flop check doesn’t mean nearly as much. Keep your eyes open for turn bets from players who can rarely hold a strong hand. If you use this play judiciously, you’ll find some free money to add to your coffers.

There’s a more general lesson to be learned here as well. While this exact scenario will come up infrequently, you should always keep your eyes open for situations where your opponent can never hold a strong hand. Those are excellent times to take the pot away with aggressive turn plays, following up with conviction on the river.

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