General concepts

Points of Play

Tournament Play

The Protected Pot

The concept of the “protected pot” is one of the most important concepts in relatively tough poker games. While little has been written about it, it is known intuitively by most good players.

A protected pot is a pot that is being contested by a number of players. The pot becomes “protected” on the last round.  By protected I mean that it is extremely unlikely that anyone will try to steal the pot from three or more opponents when all the cards are out. 

They know that there is almost no chance to get away with it. The way you take advantage of the protected pot is simply by not “paying off” someone who bets in this situation when your hand is only mediocre. 

Unless the game is very wild or very tricky, you are virtually certain to be beaten. If you are the type of player who is known as someone who is capable of folding a good poker hand on the end  (as I am ), players may tend to try to bluff you more than they would someone else. 

However, when the pot is protected, any player who tried poker bluffing must worry about the other players as well as worrying about you.

Therefore, even if you think that it would normally be worth calling some player to keep him honest if it were a heads-up situation, you should usually give him credit for a hand when he bets into a multiway pot.

As an example, suppose you are playing seven-card stud.  Going into the last card you have two small pair.  Let’s say it is fairly obvious that two of your three opponents have flush draws and the other one has a big pair.

Should either flush draw bet, you should almost certainly fold if you don’t improve. Unless you are playing very bad players or real expert poker players (who are aware that you are aware of this principle) you can be sure that the bettor will not try to run a bluff through all the players.



In theory of poker, I discuss in great detail how important it is to bluff in a random and occasional manner. I also explain how much you gain when you can stop your opponents from doing the same. 

One way to do this is by forcing them into a protected pot. There are many situations in poker where it is critical to try to thin out the field. This usually is done by raising to get players out.

However, when the original bettor is a very aggressive and tricky player and you have a hand that you think can be played either way (i.e. call or raise), you should think twice about raising if just calling will result in a protected pot.

            Now you won’t have to guess on the end.

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