Adjusting Strategies for Crushing Multi-Way Pots

Poker Academy
08 Jun 2024
Holdem Strategy
08 Jun 2024

When playing poker at lower stakes online or in casinos, it's common to find yourself on the flop against two or more players.

In multi-way pots, a lot of EV can accumulate, and your ability to win these pots can significantly impact your long-term results.

Let's learn how to navigate multi-way pots effectively and grab some +EV!

What is a Multi-Way Pot?

A multi-way pot occurs when three or more players are involved in the pot after the flop.

Compared to heads-up pots, multi-way pots tend to be larger on average.

As I mentioned earlier, multi-way pots are frequently seen in softer games. Considering that recreational players often dislike folding and prefer to call rather than raise, it naturally leads to more multi-way pots.

Multi-Way Pre-Flop

You cannot call loosely in a multi-way pot because you'll be forced to play against the combined equity of all your opponents.

For instance, consider a situation in a heads-up pot where the CO opens 2.5bb, and the BB (hero) is contemplating calling with 87s.

The pot is 4bb, and the call requires 1.5bb. Calculating the pot odds, if you have at least 27% equity, calling seems to be viable. In reality, 87s has 37.7% equity against the opponent's range, making the call justified even with the positional disadvantage.

Now, let’s consider a multi-way scenario. The CO opens with 2.5bb, the BTN calls, the SB calls, and the BB (hero) is contemplating calling with Q5o.

The pot is 8.5bb, and the call requires 1.5bb, meaning that 15% equity should be enough to justify a call. At first glance, it seems like you can call with any hand, but you need to take into account that it is a multi-way pot and that you are in a bad position.

Calculating the equity we see that Q5o has 15.53%. 

Despite meeting the equity threshold, folding is the better option due to the positional disadvantage and poor equity realization.

In multi-way pots, it’s wise to fold hands like Q5o and instead get involved with hands capable of making monsters (i.e., sets, straights, flushes, full houses), such as pocket pairs, suited connectors and weak suited aces.

Multi-way Pot Adjustments

In multi-way pots, compared to heads-up, you should adopt three key adjustments:

  1. Strengthen your betting range
  2. Increase your fold frequency
  3. Reduce bluffs

Strengthen Your Betting Range

In multi-way pots, opponents are more likely to hold strong hands.

For example, with A9s in a heads-up pot, having middle pair with a strong kicker often justifies a bet since opponents are likely to call with weaker hands.

However, in a multi-way pot, the likelihood of an opponent holding a stronger hand increases. Therefore, you should consider checking hands that you would normally bet in heads-up scenarios.

Next, what should you do if you have top pair?

Even with top pair, considering the potential of being outkicked, it’s wise to check more frequently. By giving a free card (on dry boards), you minimize the risk of being outdrawn. Therefore, checking more often in multi-way pots is a good strategy.

When betting in multi-way pots, use a range of high-equity hands like top pair with a strong kicker+ or strong draws, avoiding thin value bets.

Increase your fold frequency

Opponent bets often signify strong hands, making it wise to fold hands you might call in heads-up pots.

Opponent bets often indicate strong hands, making it wise to fold hands that you might call in heads-up pots

Suppose you have a middle pair with A9s and face a well-sized bet.

In a heads-up pot, it would be an easy call, but in a multi-way pot, it's a totally different story.

A 70% pot bet against several opponents usually indicates a strong hand.

With no strong draw and positional disadvantage, folding becomes necessary.

Of course, it depends on the opponent, but in this situation, the button's bet often represents a strong hand like top pair+ with a rare bluff. Therefore, folding A9s is often the correct action.

In multi-way pots, you will often have to fold even with hands that you would normally call with.

Consider your position and the potential to catch some strong hands like flushes or straights when deciding your actions.

Reduce Bluffs

In multi-way pots, you need to bluff less than in a heads-up pot. Multiple opponents increase the likelihood of someone having a strong hand, making your bluffs more likely to be called.

When bluffing, it is best to semi-bluff with hands that have the potential to improve to a strong hand, such as a straight draw or a flush draw.


Multi-way pots require a well-thought-out strategy. Compared to heads-up pots, it's important to fold marginal hands early and focus on playing strong hands and strong draws.

Sticking to the principles of tightening your betting range, increasing your folds, and reducing bluffs will allow you to win more multi-way pots than the average player!

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