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Multi-way Pots against Short-Handed Pots

You need to have very good poker hands in multi-way pots whereas in short-handed pots, it does not matter so much. In fact, good hands do much better than poor hands but in short-handed pots, position and playing against weaker poker players where you have a better control are also more essential.

For example you are at the best position and are heads up against weak rival whom you can plan well. All but your trash hands have a good expectation and you should play aggressively in such cases. If your rival cannot make a low, he will fold and unless he has a best high hand, he will definitely fear of any card which comes out.

Since conventional player are accustom to see so many cinches in multi-way pots, they fail to think that in heads-up pots, they are not running into monster hands every time. Accordingly, many stud poker players are "gun-shy" to see all the high hands that you can bluff and trick them when the pot is short-handed.

In a multi-way pot, everyone draws at something and many players generally draw at nut hands. They want to stay in and sometimes they are near to the correct equity to continue. Consequently, the result is generally decided by who chases the best hand. If you figure accurately as to when it will occur, you will be able to get out at the correct time and will not get caught in a jam and lose any further bets.

In games like Omaha eight or better, many players play fearfully because they often are up against the nuts. Especially in multi-way pots, due to this fear factor, when someone comes out betting in an early position, he usually has the nuts or rather something close to it. It is uncommon that anyone other than a good player will bet on the come or with a weak hand to know where he stands. If the players are playing accordingly as mentioned that is, they are making the strength of their hands in such situation, you should probably get out unless you have a best high hand.

In multi-way pots, making the strength of a hand does not cost so much because many players will try to draw out. Hence, it does not hurt the player who makes his hand as much as it helps you to know not to get involved in this spot.

For example, if four or five players are in the pot, it is obvious that they have good hands and you have a wrap-around hand with draws outs for both ways but these outs are not for the nuts - you still have to fold. Such hands, that are very strong in heads-up situations, can easily be beat in a multi-way pot, no matter which side you happen to hit. Hence, in pots with lot of players, these hands apparently can be folded but in a heads-up pot, you can move forward and raise and re-raise with them.
Let's take a simple example. You hold


And the flop comes


Keep in mind that a deuce, four, six, or eight will give a low, but only the deuce will be the nuts. Also, a four or an eight will give you a straight, but only the eight will give you the nut straight. Furthermore, if a club gets there, someone else would make a higher flush. Consequently, even if it looks as though you have more outs for both a high poker hand and a low hand, if many players are in the pot and it appears that there will be many actions you should usually fold. This is fairly because sometimes when you make the nuts, you have a big probability of being quartered and several hands you make will simply be flat-out losers.

On the other hand, if you are heads up and have a somewhat big hand, you should play with it. In other words, go ahead and bet or raise, except if you are against a very tight player who usually have an ace-deuce, in that case your several lows will get beat.

Weak hands can be played in good position in a two-player pot and different two-way hands possess a lot of value. But, in multi-way pot these hands are complete trash. Hands that do very well in multi-way pot fail to do well in a heads-up pot.


Suppose, a hand like

does well in heads-up. However, because of its redraws possibilities, this hand is not very good hand if you expect more players.

In a three-handed pot, you will lay 2-to-1 on your side if you have only one side. This is a very risky position to be in because the pot often becomes three-handed and you find yourself struggling for one of the halves. In this situation, you may be taking the worse of it.

Notice, that the high hand in a short-handed games pot do much better because a low hand usually needs more improvement to forge the high hand. Also, you will be aware that when you are not competing against another high hand unless you are against a low hand having some kind of high draw.

The high hand is the best hand in a heads-up pot but you would also prefer to have a low draw, even if it is a poor one. You might share the high hand with your rival that goes much often as you think, thus having the chance to make a low on the river may get you three-quarters of the pot.

This situation can be made opposite if your rival has a better low draw than you do. Hence, even if you have the nuts heads-up, you will have to play well because you may be splitting the pot and your rival may have a draw at you. Notice that getting three-quartered happens frequently and you should be very cautious about it. Thus, when you hold what appears to be a big hand but there are several other possibilities which you have to plan for it and decide the best way to deal with them. It is preferable to check a hand, even though it appears to be the best hand at that point, because many cards can come to beat you.

Let's take an example. Suppose in a two-handed pot, you begin with

And the flop is



Even though you have the nuts for high and no low has been made, if you rival plays back at you, you could be against the same high hand as you hold, including a low draw. In such case, you want to check and call on fourth street, don't care what it hits. (Also remember that very few cards can come out on fourth street that will not be frightening.)

When the game becomes five-handed or less, which happens when two or three players are eating or talking, many people will continue to play in the same directions. That is, they will not make any adjustment to their game at all. They will keep waiting for an ace-deuce and subsequently they will want four big cards suited up. To other way, they will play as though the game were full.

Thus, when the game becomes short-handed, you can start stealing blinds. Most rivals will give up their blinds, as they have not adjusted to the short-handed games. In this situation, you can play as many as hands and also you can plot many rivals because they will tend to go out. Also, as the pot is not so large, the conventional players will not go too far with this hand. Additionally, he will play very carefully and try to save his chips until the game fills up again.

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