multiway tactics

7 Multiway Tactics You Should Know Going Into 2022

If you want to improve your results in pots with three or more players, keep reading.

You’re about to learn seven tactical adjustments that will help you play better in multiway pots. This one is going to be especially helpful for the live players out there!

Each section below will help you with a different multiway spot. If you’re in a rush but still want to improve your game, scroll to the bottom of each section to quickly learn the tactics.

Big Blind Defense versus a Raise and Caller(s)

You should usually defend with a lot of hands in the big blind when you’re up against one player. For example:

Online $0.50/$1. 6-Handed. Effective Stacks $100.

Hero is in the Big Blind with A 3
utg folds. Middle Position raises to $2.50. 3 folds. Hero…?

With $1 already invested in the pot, Hero needs to pay just $1.50 more to see a flop with the chance to win a $5.50 pot.

If you calculate his pot odds, (1.50 / 5.50) * 100, you’ll see Hero needs around 27% equity* against the middle position’s opening range in order to make a profitable call with his hand.

*He actually needs more than 27% equity because, as the out of position preflop caller, he will under-realize his hand’s equity. If you’re unfamiliar with equity realization, click below to learn about this concept.

Assuming the player in middle position raises with the top 20% of hands, Hero has a super easy call. He will have around 44% equity as you can see in the equity calculation below:

Things change drastically as more players enter the pot, especially if you are playing live and are faced with bigger opening sizes. Let’s take the following hand as an example:

Live $1/$3. 6-Handed. Effective Stacks $300.

Hero is in the Big Blind with J♠ 7♠
utg folds. Middle Position raises to $12. co folds. Button calls. SB calls. Hero…?

Let’s quickly do the math for this spot. Hero needs to call $9 in order to play for a $48 pot (assuming no rake impacts, for simplicity), which means he needs:

(9 / 48) * 100 = 18.75% equity

But like the previous example, this number is not the end of the story. In reality, Hero actually needs to realize at least 18.75% equity in order to have a profitable call.

By inputting the estimated ranges that players might have at $1/$3, we can see that Hero has 20.17% equity:

But the amount of equity Hero will realize is negatively affected by the following factors:

  • A total of 4 players will be fighting for the pot.
  • Hero will be out of position versus two players.
  • The large gap between the cards in Hero’s hand (lowers the chance of flopping a straight draw).

While it’s impossible to calculate exactly how much these factors will impact equity realization, it’s safe to assume that Hero will not be able to realize more than 75% (rough estimation) of his raw equity.

Let’s use that estimated number to calculate the amount of equity Hero will realize:

20.17% * 0.75 = 15.12%

We can see that Hero’s hand now falls below the threshold of 18.75% needed to make a profitable call preflop, meaning he should fold his J7s.

Tactical Adjustment #1: Defend much tighter in the Big Blind when there are multiple players already in the pot, especially when the raise size is relatively large.

C-Betting on the Flop

The core concepts that should influence your c-betting in heads-up pots apply to multiway pots as well. These core concepts are:

  • The player in position can bet more of his value hands. He doesn’t have to be as concerned with protecting his checking range because that range gets to realize equity for free by checking behind.
  • The player out of position needs to check more of his value hands. This is because he needs to protect his checking range.
  • In position players can bet with more bluffs to balance their wider value range. This is a consequence of the first two concepts.

The new concept that is in effect in multiway situations is the concept of the “enemy unit”, which can be described as:

When playing against multiple opponents, they act as a singular, much stronger opponent.

When c-betting versus two or more players, you should tighten your value range to account for the more powerful enemy unit. This will consequently shrink your bluffing range and lower your overall aggression frequency.

For example:

Live $1/$3. 6-Handed. Effective Stacks $300.

Hero is dealt two cards in middle position
utg folds. Hero raises to $6. 2 folds. SB calls. BB calls.

Flop: J♠ 8 4♠
SB checks. BB checks. Hero…?

If this were a heads-up pot versus the big blind, it would be reasonable to go for a thin value bet with a hand like A♣ 8♣. Against two opponents, however, this hand becomes a clear check as it’s now too weak against the strengthened enemy unit — Hero simply won’t get called by enough worse hands.

Decent but not great bluffing hands like A 3also shift from a bet to a check. Betting would be reasonable in a heads-up pot, but you’ll need more than one overcard and a backdoor flush draw against multiple players.

Tactical Adjustment #2: You should tighten your value betting range in multiway pots, especially when playing out of position.

Tactical Adjustment #3: Raise your threshold for hands worth bluffing in multiway pots, especially when playing out of position

Playing versus Flop Bets

When facing a bet in a multiway pot, there are a few questions you must ask yourself:

1. Are you in position or out of position?

The worse your position, the tighter you should play. If you are in position vs. everyone, you can get away with calling a bit wider because you always get to act last and will have the most information of any player.

2. Are there any players left to act behind you?

If there is one or more players behind you, there is less pressure on you to defend against the bet. If you are the last player to act, then you can and should defend wider as you will only have to beat one player.

3. What is the bettor’s position?

If the bet came from a player who had an advantageous position, then you can expect his range to be slightly wider. If it came from a player who was out of position against everyone, you can expect his range to be much stronger as he is betting into multiple players with uncapped ranges.

4. How big did he bet?

The bet size is, as always, very important when deciding which hands to continue with. The bigger the bet size, the tighter you should play.

Let’s illustrate these ideas through a couple of hand examples:

Hand #1:

Live $1/$3. 6-Handed. Effective Stacks $300.

Hero is on the Button with K♣ T♣
utg folds. Middle Position raises to $9. Cutoff calls. Hero calls. SB calls. Big Blind calls

Flop ($45.00): K♠ 8♣ 6
Small Blind checks. Big Blind Checks. Middle Position bets $20. co folds. Hero…?

This bet represents an immense amount of strength and a range that is unbalanced towards value hands.

In this situation, the player in middle position decided to c-bet into four players, all of whom have uncapped ranges. He is also out of position against two players.

For these reasons, I would consider folding Hero’s hand, though calling the flop and re-evaluating the situation on the turn is also reasonable.

Hand #2:

Live $1/$3. 6-Handed. Effective Stacks $300.

Hero is in the Big Blind with K♣ T♣
utg folds. Middle Position raises to $9. co folds. Button calls. SB calls. Hero calls

Flop ($36.00): K♠ 8♣ 6
Small Blind checks. Hero checks. Middle Position Checks. Button bets $12. sb folds. Hero ?

This time the preflop raiser decides to check, the button bets one third of the pot, and the action folds back to Hero. This spot is much more likely to be a profitable call for several reasons.

  • The preflop raiser capped his range when he checked, meaning he isn’t a big concern.
  • The bettor has position over everyone and thus is more likely to bet with a wide range.
  • The bettor’s range contains fewer hands that beat KT compared to middle position’s opening range.
  • The bet is only one third of the pot.
  • Hero only has one player left to act behind him.

Tactical Adjustment #4: As there are more players left to act behind you, you should defend with fewer hands and vice-versa.

Tactical Adjustment #5: The bigger the bet, the less often you have to defend and vice-versa

Tactical Adjustment #6: The more players you have position over, the more often you should defend and vice-versa

Tactical Adjustment #7: The number of uncapped ranges a player bets into should impact your defending range. More uncapped ranges warrants a tighter defense and vice versa.

That’s all for this article, guys! I hope you get a chance to use one of these tactics during your next session. Be sure to report back if you do!

For further reading, check out “4 Ways to Improve Your Results in Multi-Way Pots“.

Want to book more winning poker sessions? Learn battle-tested tactics for live and online poker when you join the Upswing Lab training course. Learn more now!
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Home > 7 Multiway Tactics You Should Know Going Into 2022
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About the Author
Dan B.

Dan B.

Online grinder aspiring to reach the highest stakes and crush the toughest games. I'm available for quick strategy questions and hourly coaching -- reach out to me at [email protected].

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