Poker Strategy: Navigating Multiway Pots

Flexibility is one of the most essential qualities of a great poker player. There isn’t one correct strategy that’s usable in every situation; you must employ different techniques depending on how the game goes.

Every poker game is different. Hands, position, and opponents constantly change, forcing you to adapt. This is what makes poker impossible to master completely. The sheer number of possible scenarios means you can always learn something new.

One of the trickiest situations in poker is known as the multiway pot. This kind of pot has more than two players and is incredibly volatile. Many players try to avoid multiway pots entirely, but there will always be times when things don’t go according to plan. This poker guide will help you understand what to do if a multiway pot happens.

Photo by Unsplash

Why are multiway pots so bad?

Before we get into dealing with multiway pots, you may wonder why most players are scared of them in the first place. Multiway pots are volatile because of the higher player count. With each added player, it becomes more likely someone has a better hand than yours, making multiway pots harder to win.

Each added player also brings more complexity to your strategy. Instead of anticipating and thinking ahead of one player in a heads-up match, you must do this for every player in a multiway pot. There are many more things to keep track of, so multiway pots are much more challenging.

Why play multiway pots at all?

After it’s been established that multiway pots are harder to win, you may wonder why you should even play them. It might seem like a good idea to fold every multiway pot so you don’t have to consider any advanced strategy.

Multiway pots bring incredibly high risk and reward. With more players in the pot betting and calling, multiway pots will be much larger on average. This is the most significant incentive to participate in multiway pots. Sometimes, the potential earnings are too big to pass up if you know you can win.

Multiway pot strategy: Starting hand selection

Multiway pots require you to change which starting hands you prioritize. While you can’t predict multiway pots from the pre-flop, it would be wise to change your strategy in advance if you notice a trend of multiway pots at the table.

The best hands in multiway pots are ones with high potential to improve. Pocket pairs are great since they can become sets (three-of-a-kinds on the flop) or two-pairs. Suited connectors are also strong because of their potential for flushes and straights.

In multiway pots, you almost need a monster hand to win, which suited connectors can provide. Additionally, multiway pots give you better odds to call, which is great for playing suited connectors and other drawing hands. Bets are usually around the same size, but the pot you stand to win will be much larger. There’s also the chance that the pot grows in future rounds due to more bets, meaning draws are even stronger.

The only kinds of hands you should avoid in multiway pots are offsuit hands with one high card like A5o and K7o. While these hands may do well heads-up because of their guaranteed value against multiple opponents, they won’t cut it. It’s incredibly rare to win a multiway pot with just a high card, so you should stay away from these hands as they aren’t likely to improve beyond that.

Photo by Unsplash

Tighten up your calling range

You must be aware of the other players in multiway pots, mainly when calling a bet. Even if you think the bettor is bluffing, you must consider that the other players behind them may have a strong hand. You need to tighten up and refrain from calling with a mediocre hand. You may get squeezed, which is when you call but another player behind you raises, “trapping” your bet in the pot and putting you in a terrible position.

Tighten up your value betting range

You don’t want to value bet in multiway pots unless you’re sure you have the best hand. The increased number of players means you can’t value bet with hands that are average, like a pair or high card. You need to be sure you’ll win the pot; otherwise, you risk building a massive pot only for someone else to claim it.

Continuation bet smaller

Another thing you must consider in a multiway pot is betting efficiency. You don’t need to fire off big bets every time, especially when continuation betting. Players have tighter ranges and know bluffs are less common in multiway pots.

They will only call with a solid hand themselves, so you can make your continuation bets smaller and still cause players to fold. This is great since you risk less money if someone calls your bet with a monster hand.

Bluff less

Finally, you can’t bluff as frequently in multiway pots compared to heads-up ones. Heads-up, you only need to get one player to fold. In multiway pots, it is almost impossible to get everyone to fold, especially considering how likely it is for at least one player to have a potent hand. Depending on your opponents’ playstyles, you may have to give up on bluffing entirely and focus on other parts of the game.

Photo by Pixabay

Now you know how to deal with multiway pots!

In conclusion, multiway pots are natural and will inevitably appear in your poker games. While you should generally avoid them, we hope you better understand what to do when they happen. Play tight, and respect the volatility that multiway pots bring.