Before we get into the strategies, we need to have some understanding of multiway pots. Any pot that involves three or more players is a multiway pot. Strategies in multiway pots are not as straightforward as in heads-up play. As the number of players in the pot increases, some serious strategy adjustments are required because the raw equity of your range decreases.
If you want to improve your win-rate and avoid spewing away your chips in multiway poker, keep reading.
Stay selective before the flop
The human mind is always curious. So naturally, it is tempting to try and see a cheap flop in a multiway pot. This is where your decision-making comes into play. While hands such as K-J, Q-J and A-Q are strong hands in heads-up situations while in multiway pots, not so much. Be selective with the hands you choose to call with. You should also consider that there are players after you who can force you to fold. And it is highly likely you will end up with a hand that will not win you against multiple opponents.
Play tight or reduce your betting frequency
A very well-known strategy but an important one. It is always recommended to play tight when facing a bet of three or more players. If someone on the table bets or raises, it is more or less a nutted hand (strongest possible hand in a given situation), unless you have a very strong hand yourself, it is better to fold. Lower your betting frequency as more players enter the pot. With every additional player, your equity reduces as the odds of someone actually having a big hand increases exponentially. Always play tighter when facing a bet with players left to act. And in multiway pots, other players will be playing tight too, so proceed with caution.
Choose your bluffs wisely
Always approach a multiway pot with caution. The number of bluffs should reduce as the number of players increases. It is a given that bluffing is not nearly as effective here as it is in a heads-up play. Therefore, you need to reduce your bluffing frequency, especially with poker hands that have no equity. But you may come across situations where you will need to bluff to have a chance to improve to what's likely going to be the best hand. Risk plays a significant role in poker, and you sometimes you need to take it to give yourself a chance to win the pot right then and there. In these instances, you can up your bluff frequency as your opponents are likely to give you credit and fold their marginal hands. Sometimes you can take advantage of these perceptions when your opponents have checked to you. Poker is, after all, a game of psychology and risk.
Bet and gain some information
Studying and analyzing your opponents after every betting round is an important strategy in poker and what defines a poker shark. When we bet, we can learn a lot about the ranges of our opponents from the way they respond to our bets.
• If they call, we can expect them to have a weak or marginal hand. If you have a decent hand of your own, you may as well go ahead with it.
• If they raise, it is highly likely that they may be playing with a strong hand and we can confidently fold the weaker parts of our range.
• If they fold, we deny their equity and our chances of winning the hand increases.
Of course, our opponents are also capable of bluffing, but we cannot acquire this information by checking. Remember that betting for information is not your goal, just an upside of it, but sometimes we need this information during the later stages of the game to stay one step ahead of our opponents.
Use smaller continuation bet or c-bet sizes
The basic idea of raising before the flop is to tell your opponents that you have a good hand and you are willing to pay for more money and when the flop comes, you bet again and tell them again that you are still confident about your hand and continue to be the aggressor. Aggression is an important trait of a poker shark. Indirectly, daring them to come at you. More often than not, your opponents will usually fold. Since bets in multiway pots usually represent a strong range, this perception can be capitalized on by betting small with your bluffs. As a result, your bluffing will be more efficient. Do not repeat this strategy as you do not want to become predictable to your opponents.
Sometimes you may have to fold your top pair
One of the main differences between a good and a bad poker player is that they know when to fold. Most players are usually reluctant to fold even if a top pair is their best hand. While top pair in a heads-up play is a valuable hand, it's value drastically drops in a multiway pot, and with the addition of more players, its value decreases even further. So do not look to play huge pots with just one pair, it is highly unlikely you will be winning the pot. But if you are unwilling to fold, you will have a fair idea about your opponent’s cards for free by checking. If someone raises, it is unnecessary and dangerous for you to call. Sometimes, it is sensible to simply fold, even to just one bet. Remember that in a multiway poker game, most players will be hesitant to raise with both weak bluffs and marginal value hands.
Protect your equity
It is very important to protect your equity. The more players involved in the pot, the higher the chances are that one of them will improve to a better hand if we let them see the turn and the river for free. So, you will want to bet out and deny your opponents the chance to improve. It may be a risk, but you are much better off betting out to establish where you are at in the hand and protect against others. There is no reason to go big with the sizing of hands to fold. The hands that have a reasonable equity will continue even if you bet half the pot. Thereby achieving the same result when you risk fewer chips. There needs to be a balance of ranges but manipulating your opponents is the way to go in poker.
We are trying to get rid of at least one player by betting, which should make the hand easier to play from turn onwards.
In such a game, you will come across many situations. It is impossible to cover every situation considering there are so many factors to worry about and the styles of different players, so it is important to stay alert and pay attention to every detail. Do not give too much away either because like you, there will be others keeping an eye on you too. With time and experience, you will be able to adapt and improve your decision-making. At Spartan, you can try out some online poker games and put your strategies to the test and stand out from the rest.