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Five Multiway Pot Exploits

by Alex Fitzgerald |  Published: Feb 07, 2024

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Multiway pots can feel so goofy. Someone has to have something, right? Is my top pair even worth anything?

If you’re looking for ways to exploit your opponents in multiway pots, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s discuss five exploits you can use today to make more money on the felt.

1. Big Bets Versus Stations

This took me the longest time to figure out, but many recreational players don’t actually look at the size of the flop bet unless it’s enormous.

They play too many hands preflop precisely because it gets them hot and bothered when they do connect with a flop. They’re not going to connect with the flop and then fold to the first bet. That will cause them an existential crisis. “Why am I even playing this hand if I’m just going to fold to the flop bet?”

To take advantage of this tendency, you should bet larger on coordinated boards when you’ve flopped a huge hand. Your opponents with pairs and draws are unlikely to go anywhere.

This is great news for you. When your opponents call any bet on the flop, they’re likely to be surprised by how big the pot is on the turn. “Whoa,” they think. “I can’t fold now. Look how much money is out there!”

Now, if you bet half the size of the pot, the bet doesn’t look that large in relation to the pot size, but it’s a huge bet in relation to their stack because you inflated the pot early in the hand. If you get them to call on the turn due to “pot odds,” don’t be shocked if they call off everything on the river.

2. Folding Single Pairs To A Raise

I was playing a low-stakes tournament one time in a smalltown cardroom. I raised preflop with A-Q offsuit and got multiple callers. The board came A-10-4 with two clubs. I didn’t have a club in my hand.

I bet out when the action came to me. It folded around to Terry. Terry then raised to around the size of the pot. Terry was a dad in his 40s. He played for fun and normally didn’t attract much attention.

What does it mean when a player isn’t noticeable? It means they’re not bluffing enough. Bluffs are exciting. Bluffs are noticeable. If you play day in and day out with the same guy and never notice a thing, that means he’s doing nothing flashy. He has a hand pretty much every time he plays a pot.

In this case, Terry was not raising a combo draw. I’d never seen him do that. He wasn’t raising with A-J offsuit, either. He would just call with that hand. His range was exactly a set of tens, a set of fours, or top two pair.

I folded when the action got back to me. This is a highly-exploitative fold, which means it can be dangerous. You can’t exploit others without becoming exploitable yourself. However, in this instance, when you’re playing against an average guy in a small cardroom, it’s unlikely he changed his entire style just to exploit you in one specific hand. He most likely has the goods.

If you look for spots like this, you’ll find them constantly. There’s not many people who can bluff raise in a multiway pot. Most people are too paranoid that somebody has already flopped something.

3. Calling Down Less

On that same note, let’s pretend you flop top pair with a mediocre kicker. You check in a multiway pot to the original raiser. They decline to bet, so it gets checked to the player who is in position. They take a shot at the pot. You call.

The turn is a blank. You check. The villain fires again. You call. The river is another blank. You check. The villain moves all-in.

What should you generally do in this situation?

Many recreational players hem and haw here thinking they have a major 50/50 decision, but in most instances the answer is cut and dried. It’s a fold.

Sometimes, the player in position will take a shot at the pot when checked to in position in a multiway pot. However, most people won’t triple barrel bluff.

In multiway pots, most people make a subconscious assumption that somebody has something. That means it’s unlikely that they’re willing to fire into multiple people with nothing. Even if they’re willing to try firing one bet, they’re more likely to believe you have something once you call, because in general someone does have something in a multiway pot.

On occasion, someone will go balls to the wall and triple barrel bluff in a multiway pot, but most people don’t operate like that. They usually have the hand when they’re willing to commit tons of chips to a multiway pot.

4. Betting Small With A Mediocre Draw

Another fun exploitative play you can do is to bet small with a draw. In multiway pots, a bunch of your opponents will be afraid to raise you with one pair.

Why are they afraid to do this? They’re worried about reopening the action. Nothing makes a player feel dumber than raising a decent hand and then getting blasted off of it. They think to themselves, “damn it! Why didn’t I just call?! I could have seen the turn card AND kept the pot small!”

You can take advantage of this by whipping out a small flop bet the second it’s on you. I’ve had this play work to great effect live. People assume that I didn’t understand how big the pot was. They don’t think I capped my range by betting too small on a coordinated board. They instead think I could still have all of my strongest combinations. Because of this, they call more, allowing me to set the price and see a cheap turn card.

5. Raising Top Pair Versus A Small Bet

On a similar note, you shouldn’t fall for this same play when someone does it to you.
If you have top pair with a decent kicker multiway and someone bets small, don’t let them get cheap turn cards. Raise your top pair for value and start charging!

The vast majority of the time they will just call you. If they do raise you again on the flop, they’ve usually just given away that they flopped a set. You don’t have to overcommit there. You can often get away for the minimum. ♠

Learn how to play A-K when it misses the flop!

Alexander Fitzgerald is a professional poker player and bestselling author who currently lives in Denver, Colorado. He is a WPT and EPT final tablist, and has WCOOP and SCOOP wins online. His most recent win was the $250,000 Guaranteed on ACR Poker. He currently enjoys blasting bums away in Ignition tournaments while he listens to death metal. Free training packages of his are provided to new newsletter subscribers who sign up at PokerHeadRush.com