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Multi-way pots in poker: how to play on low flops

Multi-way pots in poker: how to play on low flops

In the BBZ Blog’s brief history so far we’ve touched on some of the trickiest situations in tournament poker, from playing the small blind to bluffing the river.

What we’ve yet to really focus on is how to approach multi-way pots, i.e. pots in which you face more than one opponent.

The more players you’re facing, the more aspects you need to consider. What’s their position at the table? What’s their stack size? How does the board interact with their ranges? etc.

In the first instalment of our multi-way pots series, we’re going to be looking at how you can tackle low flops in three-way pots using hand examples from the man himself, Jordan “bigbluffzinc” Drummond, a.k.a. BBZ.


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In the first example, we’re looking at a three-way pot with players in early position (EP), the button, and the big blind. Each player has 40 big blinds.

The EP player raised first in, so before we get to the flop, let’s take a look at what their opening range should look like:

You’ll notice this range includes all pocket pairs and all suited aces, combinations that can not only connect but connect hard on low flops. There’s also some suited connectors mixed in, such as 67 and 78 which also hit these boards. So the opener is capable of having everything from big overpairs to top pairs and gutshots.

Next up is the button cold caller. Here’s what their range should look like:

It’s highly unlikely that the button is ever calling with the top of their range (big pocket pairs, AK and AQ suited, so those hands are out. All pocket pairs lower than jacks and low suited aces are in though.

Finally, there’s the big blind defend range. This is the widest range and the one with more combinations available to connect with a low flop.

All suited hands are defended, as well as all offsuit ace combos (minus A2 off). BBZ points out that the big blind should theoretically be folding offsuit broadway combos in this spot, as with an open and a call in front of them there’s a chance those hands could be dominated.

With the ranges established, let’s get to the flop.

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It falls 752, a rainbow flop with straights the only draws available.

“The big blind should be checking their entire range,” says BBZ. This is regardless of whether you’ve connected with the flop or not. The reason for checking is that you’re out of position and it keeps your range as wide as possible, allowing the opener or the caller an opportunity to put more money into the pot.

Interestingly, the opener should be checking their range on this low flop almost 81% of the time. When they’re not checking, solvers suggest betting large if betting at all, to the tune of 4.67 big blinds up to 7 big blinds.

“This is kind of interesting as we haven’t really seen strategies when an out of position player is using larger bet sizings,” says BBZ. “We mostly see the opener using smaller bet sizes in these types of spots. But this is the type of flop where–if this hand were just EP vs BB–you might see 2x overbetting (two times the pot) as a strategy.”

Why might the solver lean towards a large continuation bet size? For one, it forces your opponents to pay big in order to hold on to their weak pairs and straight draws, a lot of which they’d likely fold to a second barrel on the turn. It also discourages players from floating with their overcards plus backdoor flush draws.

Assuming the opener has made a continuation bet, the action is now on the button cold caller.

“The button still has a raise strategy,” says BBZ. “This is actually really interesting. At 40 big blinds, I wasn’t sure this would take place. Against larger bet sizes, I personally would have been either calling or folding.”

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The hands the solver selects to raise with (only a small percentage of the time) are predominantly pocket pairs including some jacks, tens, nines, eights, as well as the pocket pairs which have flopped sets.

However, the strategy is to fold high offsuit hands and mostly call with suited overcards with backdoor flush draws, and most pocket pairs, to see what develops on the turn.

Assuming the opener has c-bet around 60% of the pot, let’s move on the big blind counter-strategy.

For starters, all hands containing a seven stay in with a call, with only A7 (top pair, top kicker) and 75 (top two pair) occasionally raising.

All hands containing a five stick around too, with only the weakest kickers (in this case a three or four) sometimes folding. What also stands out from the big blind strategy is that the solver is calling with every single combination containing a deuce.

kq-offsuit is also calling, which actually makes some sense,” says BBZ. “You’ve got to have some board coverage and we can’t just brick all our overcards.”

The same logic also applies to hands like QJ and Q10.

“If the opener c-bets the flop and the big blind calls, then the turn comes a card disconnected to the board–ten, jack, queen, king–these are cards which are quite favourable for the opener on a relative basis to the big blind defend,” says BBZ. “The big blind defend shouldn’t have much interaction with those cards. So obviously, as the opener, you’re going to put in more money barreling on those turn cards.”

So by defending hands like kq and Q10, the big blind has some coverage for when those cards hit, knowing the opener should be barrelling aggressively on them.

“You might ask why is Q10 a call but not a hand like A9?” BBZ adds. “That’s why.”


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