Skill #2. Don’t Pay People Off – P1: MULTI-WAY POTS AND LOOSE GAMES

In multi-way pots, you can sometimes apply the fold reasoning to flop betting as well. Say someone raises pre-flop to $10 and gets five callers. The flop comes queen-high, and the pre-flop raiser bets $50 into a $60 pot and five opponents. Unless the player is atypical, the bettor will usually have at least a queen.

In general, flop bets in 1-2 games that are significantly bigger than half the pot, and that are made into three or more opponents, tend to be weighted heavily toward good made hands and strong draws. These bets are a signal you should likely let go of marginal hands as strong as top pair with a poor kicker.

For example, say it’s a 1-2 game with $300 stacks. A loose player opens for $10 from early position, the cutoff calls, and you call in the big blind with A♦7♦. The flop comes A♣9♠4♥. You check, and the raiser bets $20 into the $31 pot. The cutoff folds. You should call. The bet is fairly small, and there are few enough players in the pot that the pre-flop raiser might just be making a standard continuation bet. Your pair of aces could easily be the best hand.

Now, say it’s a 1-2 game with $300 stacks. A loose player opens for $10 from early position, and four players call. You call in the big blind with A♦7♦. There’s $61 in the pot, and you have five opponents. The flop comes A♣9♠4♥. You check, and the raiser bets $50. One player calls, and it’s back to you. Fold.

The bettor is far more likely to have a strong ace with this action than in the previous action. The extra players in the hand and the bigger betting and size of the pot encourage your opponent to play straighter, meaning betting good hands and checking the misses.

The caller in-between seals it. If you were to call, you’d be banking on the pre-flop raiser betting weak hands and the player in the middle calling with a nine or possibly a weak ace. This is a low-probability parlay. It’s quite likely that one or both have you beaten, and the ideal play is to fold.

Many players in loose games will assume that bluffing is completely pointless. (If you pick your spots, you can still bluff in these games. But it’s definitely harder.) These players will tend to have strong hands when they bet—and this is particularly true if there’s been action throughout the hand (i.e., bets on all streets).

If one of these players commits to a large bet on the turn and river, you shouldn’t even consider trying to call to catch bluffs.

In multi-way pots and super-loose games, “don’t pay them off” is even better advice than usual.

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