Multi-Way Pots

Multi-way Pots – Proceed With Caution!

Bluff-Raising Multi-Way Pots

I wasn’t too sure if I should include this section because some readers might go ballistic and donk off all their money after reading it. Since you are a responsible poker player who wants to increase his winnings, here it is.

Bluff-raising in multi-way pots is an advanced, aggressive play. If you pick your spots well, then you’ll win a lot of money. It also makes you tougher to play against because you could conceivably have anything in any spot. Allow me to demonstrate.

You have a gutshot and a backdoor flush draw. Not a great hand by any means, but you do have some equity. By raising, you typically represent a set or two pairs. If MP and CO are at least decent players, then they will be forced to fold hands as strong as KQ. If you have AQ, KQ, or a straight draw, then you almost always call here. Most decent players know that. So, what hands can you raise for value here that they beat? Not many. Unless you have a history of raising dry boards like this in a 3-way pot with at best top pair, medium kicker, they will respect you.

Put yourself in MP’s position. You c-bet with KQ on Q75 rainbow, a very dry flop. A player behind you calls and a good, aggressive player raises. You’re not going to be too thrilled about it and you will make a disciplined, good fold. Assuming you do call, you do it with the intention of folding to another big bet on the turn.

In this hand, if MP calls and CO folds, then don’t bet the turn unless you hit your gutshot or pick up a flush draw + pair or flush draw + OESD. Then you can just pot the turn to commit yourself and maximize your fold equity.

If MP is a thinking player, he’ll also have to worry about CO waking up with a strong hand. So he will insta-fold his QJ and probably KQ as well.

If CO calls, he either has a stubborn top pair, two pair or a set. Just check the turn no matter what card falls and hope to hit your straight/backdoor flush draw on the river.
Do not try this move on a flush-draw board. You are much more likely to have a strong draw than a set or two pairs and they will be more likely to get it in lighter against you. Multi-way pots are great for bluff-raising as well.

You have a ton of fold equity here because your line looks insanely strong. A decent player will fold a hand as strong as QJ on this board. He’ll have to be worried about you because he will realize that you probably never check-raise here with QJ for value. Nobody does. If he calls and the turn is a diamond, then just bet the pot to commit yourself and maximize your fold equity in case he does call the flop with a hand like KJ or QJ.

Check-raise size: you want to vary between 3-4x the betting amount (3 if it’s HU, 4 if there’s one caller). So if the PF raiser c-bets $4 into a $6 pot, then check-raise to $12-$16. Be sure to vary the amount so that you don’t give off any sizing tells.

Notice how in each hand, you have a gutshot, backdoor straight draw, and/or a backdoor flush draw. Always give yourself some rope to hang onto in case they end up calling your flop raise.

WARNING: When you’re pulling stunts like these, please have an idea of how villains play. Don’t blow off your entire stack against a donk who can’t fold top pair, no kicker. Don’t do this against players who don’t know how to read hands. In all honesty, there are many players who are not capable of making this fold with QJ or even KJ in this spot at 100NL and lower. They either can’t understand at that level or they just can’t fold even though they know that calling is bad. What works at higher stakes may never work in the lower stakes. At the very least, I hope this example will motivate you to think beyond the norm. Instead of just folding because you have very little equity in a hand, think about your range and your opponent’s range. Think about all your options and determine which is the best. How else are you going to improve?

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