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Old 07-10-2018, 07:35 PM   #1
RagingOwl
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Let's talk about playing multi-way. Is it ever good?

This question is inspired by two recent threads where a multitude of posters were advocating a loose-passive play, from out of position, with a weak hand, and unfavorable SPR. They justified this by saying something like "ZOMG! we're multi-way, and pot oddz! If we hit, we'll make like...a million dollars! ZOMG!"

Here's my thesis:

There is no such thing as a hand that "plays well" in, or enjoys playing, multi-way pots.

(there is an exception, I'll get to that).

There are two types of hands:

A) Hands that flop strong hands. That's your overpairs, broadway cards, and hands that can bet for value as top-pair holdings. These do not play well multi-way. They rarely flop better than one-pair, and they greatly benefit from situations where 1-pair rates to be the best hand. More players, make this less likely.

B) Hands that flop draws. It's not 2006 anymore folks. It's hard to get paid with the nuts. At least, it's harder than ever before. So drawing, and then value betting when you hit isn't as profitable as you might imagine it to be. Drawing hands benefit from the ability to bluff when they exist as un-made/high-equity holdings. Bluffing is easier when you have fewer opponents.

The only way you can dispute this is if you believe that there is massive profit involved in playing draws passively. I'm not a believer. However, even if you did believe that....you absolutely must agree that it only works when stacks are very deep. And in both of the controversial threads mentioned, the hero was under 100BB's!! So what gives?

Now I promised an exception to the rule, so here it is.

Sets.

Small pairs with proper implied odds are mega-moneymakers in multi-way pots. Regardless of position, regardless of SPR, regardless of anything except stack sizes. And even then, stack sizes are sometimes irrelevant because in a multi-way pot, you're often getting very close to direct odds anyway.

Discuss...
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Old 07-10-2018, 07:39 PM   #2
Mr Spyutastic
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Re: Let's talk about playing multi-way. Is it ever good?

Suited aces seem like good multiway hands.
Making straights multiway seems good too.
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Old 07-10-2018, 07:43 PM   #3
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Re: Let's talk about playing multi-way. Is it ever good?

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Suited aces seem like good multiway hands.
Making straights multiway seems good too.
At what cost?

Would you at least concede that it would be better (more +EV) to play those hands aggressively, with the betting lead, and the ability to threaten a large stack?
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Old 07-10-2018, 08:41 PM   #4
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Re: Let's talk about playing multi-way. Is it ever good?

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Originally Posted by RagingOwl View Post
This question is inspired by two recent threads where a multitude of posters were advocating a loose-passive play, from out of position, with a weak hand, and unfavorable SPR. They justified this by saying something like "ZOMG! we're multi-way, and pot oddz! If we hit, we'll make like...a million dollars! ZOMG!"


...

Love it!
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Old 07-10-2018, 08:48 PM   #5
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Re: Let's talk about playing multi-way. Is it ever good?

I was going to call BS on this thesis and then I thought about how I play these hands and I tend to agree, but perhaps for different reasons. The 2/5 games here have a max $1k buy and when I'm below 100 BBs I feel like a short stack and I will still complete the SB with a small suited connector as long as the BB isn't very active but will likely fold to any raise. I'm not sure exactly where my line is, but probably around 140 BB ish I may speculate if I feel there wont be a squeeze behind. Many games are capped at 100 BB buy in though, I'm curious if I only feel this way due to relative stack sizes or due to bet to stack and pot to stack ratios. I do agree stack sizes should matter more in hands like these.

I still think the thesis goes a bit too far. To play big pots profitably you either need someone to have a huge bluff or a strong hand that you can beat. In either case the likelihood of someone else having one of these increases as the number of players in the hand increase. The strong hands that are hardest to see and get paid off the most IME are sets and small straights, especially if there is a gap or two. I haven't run any simulations but it stands to reason if you can hit a super strong hand multi way you are more likely to get paid. Surely some hands are better than others for this.
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Old 07-10-2018, 08:49 PM   #6
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Re: Let's talk about playing multi-way. Is it ever good?

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Originally Posted by RagingOwl View Post



B) Hands that flop draws. It's not 2006 anymore folks. It's hard to get paid with the nuts. At least, it's harder than ever before. So drawing, and then value betting when you hit isn't as profitable as you might imagine it to be. Drawing hands benefit from the ability to bluff when they exist as un-made/high-equity holdings. Bluffing is easier when you have fewer opponents.



...

Writing off most drawing type hands seems a tad harsh!
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Old 07-10-2018, 08:52 PM   #7
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Re: Let's talk about playing multi-way. Is it ever good?

I love multiway pots at llsn.

There are positional factors that almost nobody knows well.

You can make absurd "name your price" bets.

Occasionally you can steal the pot very cheaply.

Both of these are because few people adjust to the pot size.
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Old 07-10-2018, 08:53 PM   #8
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Re: Let's talk about playing multi-way. Is it ever good?

They're not being written off
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Old 07-10-2018, 09:06 PM   #9
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Re: Let's talk about playing multi-way. Is it ever good?

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Originally Posted by c0rnBr34d View Post
To play big pots profitably you either need someone to have a huge bluff or a strong hand that you can beat. In either case the likelihood of someone else having one of these increases as the number of players in the hand increase.
I don't like this thinking. It sounds break-even-ish.

Yeah, implied odds are great. But you also have to be realistic. When the board shows a flush, and you have it 9-high, what do you really expect to get paid off by in a huge pot?

The next thing I would say here is why are we talking about "big pots"?

Who said we're trying to win "big pots"?

There are times when we are happy to play for big pots. And when we do, it's not just big pots we're after. We want the BIGGEST pot. That means playing for stacks. That's what SPR tells us. It guides us in planning our hand to profitably play for stacks. The math demands double-digit SPR's and avoid low SPRs

We're not trying to "play big pots profitably"

We're trying to make the most profit from a series of all possible pots

We make more in position
We make more with initiative
We make more when we maximize fold equity. Drawing hands make money when they can make bluffs that are backed up by equity. That's a key characteristic of a good bluff.

Here's a test to see if you understand what I'm talking about...

Do you almost always get max value when you make a backdoor flush? If not, then you're not playing suited hands properly.

The profit in these kinds of hands comes from the money we make when our opponents fold out huge portions of equity. Not from simply realizing our underdog equity through implied odds.
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Old 07-10-2018, 09:12 PM   #10
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Re: Let's talk about playing multi-way. Is it ever good?

I have another viewpoint.

Multi-way pots imply looser players.

That's always a good thing.

Just maybe not for that particular hand, but game selection is more important than occasionally getting too many limpers or callers for a particular holding.
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Old 07-10-2018, 09:13 PM   #11
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Re: Let's talk about playing multi-way. Is it ever good?

And another thought.

Squeezing and stealing is more profitable with multiple limpers and multiple small-bet callers.

Rather have that than a bunch of Easter-Island stone statues in the game.
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Old 07-10-2018, 09:13 PM   #12
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Re: Let's talk about playing multi-way. Is it ever good?

Intent was not to be exclusive, just to say MW pots are often larger. Especially if they are raised pre. Maybe a bit over-generalized but I thought the point was clear. Nothing break even about taking down MW pots. Just pointing out that both your bluffs and strong hands are more likely to get looked up as the number of opponents increase. So hand selection that can more easily make straights or sets or strong hands without being super obvious probably make the most sense. Of course relative to the table and bet / pot / stack sizes.
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Old 07-10-2018, 09:23 PM   #13
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Re: Let's talk about playing multi-way. Is it ever good?

Years ago when I was playing online a lot, my database clearly showed that the more people seeing the flop, the better hand you needed to win at show down. It isn't just a matter of being able to flop a big hand. Your big hand has to be hidden as well. It is one reason I'm not fond of calling with A-crap suited pf. Sure, you can flop or hit the nuts on the turn. However, almost nobody these days are going to let you draw cheap to your FD or pay you off when you hit on the turn after you called on the flop. Poker is about winning money, not winning pots.

Sets are hidden big hands. Straights are hidden big hands. Back door flushes are hidden big hands. If you're going to call, you want pairs and SC to call with, especially if they are aren't mixed with broadway cards in a MW pot. If you have a hand that is better than what people have indicated they have pf, you want to raise enough to get it HU. The reason to shoot for HU is that you don't necessarily want everyone to fold and isn't the end of the world if it goes 3 way. But if your raise is getting called by 3 people, you aren't raising enough.

What is great about poker is that all the players coming in assume that anything written 3 years ago is worthless. Almost nobody seems to know about Doyle Brunson's trouble hands. Or I read someone write, "Villain is a TAG, but occasionally bluffs so he might be competent" as if someone playing TAG was incompetent. Old timers like me appreciate it.

/rant
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Old 07-10-2018, 10:09 PM   #14
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Re: Let's talk about playing multi-way. Is it ever good?

Best hands for multiway?

1) the absolute best. Sets. Preferably 55+. 22-44 are pretty trash, but if it’s a good price then we should be flatting

2) suited aces getting a good price. Preferably from the BTN/BB, or SB. Sometimes CO

3) SCs when deep, usually only from BB/BTN
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Old 07-10-2018, 10:17 PM   #15
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Re: Let's talk about playing multi-way. Is it ever good?

Basically what Minatorr said. Outside of premiums, you money is going to come from making sets with middling PP's.

Broadway suited connector are really good too (QJs/JTs). Straights are where most of the money comes from here, because when they do make a straight they make it on a board with some high cards that hit other people's hands. Plus you'll be surprised how often top or 2nd pair will still hold up in a 5 way pot. It's not often, but it's enough to make them noticeably more profitable than smaller SC's.
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Old 07-10-2018, 10:19 PM   #16
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Re: Let's talk about playing multi-way. Is it ever good?

I actually take a different approach to this topic. IME multiway pots are often the MOST profitable to play, but it all depends on our opponents. If I have a table of 1/3 NL OMC's, I for sure want to see 7-way flops to a raise! Why? Because their awareness of bet sizing is poor, and will rarely adjust, often allowing us to draw with great direct odds.

The key IMO is learning when our profit is coming from. There is no game or situation that is not beatable (one of the beauties of poker), there just can't all be beat the same way. If you make FE a fundamental source of your profit (most of us do), then multiway is not going to favor you. However, if you bet size better than your opponents and can range more accurately, than I think multi-way is also fine.

It's all in the mindset, and being able to adjust to opponents.
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Old 07-10-2018, 10:22 PM   #17
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Re: Let's talk about playing multi-way. Is it ever good?

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Originally Posted by Koss View Post
Basically what Minatorr said. Outside of premiums, you money is going to come from making sets with middling PP's.

Broadway suited connector are really good too (QJs/JTs). Straights are where most of the money comes from here, because when they do make a straight they make it on a board with some high cards that hit other people's hands. Plus you'll be surprised how often top or 2nd pair will still hold up in a 5 way pot. It's not often, but it's enough to make them noticeably more profitable than smaller SC's.
Yeah, forgot to mention suited broadways. KQs/KJs/QJss are good money makers, but depends on what position we are in. They are defintely better than SCs, so we can play them more liberally esp from the BB
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Old 07-10-2018, 10:59 PM   #18
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Re: Let's talk about playing multi-way. Is it ever good?

Multi-way pots are very profitable at llsnl imo. You're contributing very little to the pot preflop, while still playing good hands, and you can basically hit the flop or just get out.

One of the most common major errors made by fish is raising pre with a hand like AK, then betting into 5 other people when the pot comes 1095 with 2 to a suit or something. I feel like I see this literally 5+ times per hour. This error is where a lot of your profit can be made, they'll always give up on the turn.

People are also a lot more uncomfortable with good-not-great hands when a lot of money starts going into the pot. I'm talking hands like top pair, or flopped top pair and an overcard hits. Bluff spots come up from time to time and you should take them when appropriate.

Multi-way pots are a lot more complicated to deal with, and there isn't a lot of poker knowledge to read up on what to do, you basically just have to figure it out for yourself. This is why most people are scared/uncomfortable with them, especially on a board like this with thinking players.
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Old 07-11-2018, 01:14 AM   #19
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Re: Let's talk about playing multi-way. Is it ever good?

My philosophy: if you want to play "make the best hand and extract value" play multi-way. If you want to play poker, play heads-up. Of course, when if you overdo trying to get heads-up, you will get called light and lose all your chips, so to balance ourselves, we need to play a few hands multi-way.

To elaborate, imo, you maximise your win rate by stacking opponents. If you want to stack opponents multi-way, you need stronger hands and these are harder to make, ergo trying to get heads-up is imperative.

In general, if you have any sort of hand you want to see a flop with, it's good to begin building a pot early and cutting down the number of opponents. So raising (and re raising) pre makes a lot of sense. Factors that need to be heavily considered are a) our image, and b) our stack size (whether it is intimidating enough or not).

I find it easier to play (and build my stack) if I'm up over table max already. So while I do acknowledge that +EV plays can happen anytime, I do take somewhat of a tournament approach to cash games, where I'm tighter at the beginning of a session, and start loosening up as my stack begins to grow.
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Old 07-11-2018, 02:02 AM   #20
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Re: Let's talk about playing multi-way. Is it ever good?

Quote:
B) Hands that flop draws. It's not 2006 anymore folks. It's hard to get paid with the nuts. At least, it's harder than ever before. So drawing, and then value betting when you hit isn't as profitable as you might imagine it to be. Drawing hands benefit from the ability to bluff when they exist as un-made/high-equity holdings. Bluffing is easier when you have fewer opponents.
This is just lol in many games. It's so very "it depends." Yesterday playing 1/3NL in the Midwest I got raised AI for a huge overbet (about $300 into a $70 pot) by an OMC on a Q97ccx board. Did he have a set? Big combo draw? No. He had the mighty 79dd.

And that was a relatively action free table for the area. So don't generalize your game conditions to "poker today."
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Old 07-11-2018, 02:07 AM   #21
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Re: Let's talk about playing multi-way. Is it ever good?

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Originally Posted by Garick View Post
This is just lol in many games. It's so very "it depends." Yesterday playing 1/3NL in the Midwest I got raised AI for a huge overbet (about $300 into a $70 pot) by an OMC on a Q97ccx board. Did he have a set? Big combo draw? No. He had the mighty 79dd.

And that was a relatively action free table for the area. So don't generalize your game conditions to "poker today."
Agreed. If you don't get action, then perhaps your image is too nitty, and you always have the nut flush in that spot. That's why you don't get paid. Work on balancing those spots with enough bluffs so you get called.
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Old 07-11-2018, 02:10 AM   #22
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Re: Let's talk about playing multi-way. Is it ever good?

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Originally Posted by BlueSpade84 View Post
I actually take a different approach to this topic. IME multiway pots are often the MOST profitable to play, but it all depends on our opponents. If I have a table of 1/3 NL OMC's, I for sure want to see 7-way flops to a raise! Why? Because their awareness of bet sizing is poor, and will rarely adjust, often allowing us to draw with great direct odds.
.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Calldown88 View Post

One of the most common major errors made by fish is raising pre with a hand like AK, then betting into 5 other people when the pot comes 1095 with 2 to a suit or something. I feel like I see this literally 5+ times per hour. This error is where a lot of your profit can be made, they'll always give up on the turn.

Bluff spots come up from time to time and you should take them when appropriate.
Both good examples.

Another thing that happens is you are almost practically heads up with 1 or 2 other players donating.

Top pair and great kicker or better. Vs good draw. Vs worse made hand and/or worse draw.

At the same time, when players really underbet their hands you can call very light and either bluff later or get paid when you hit.

J87 board. Ep raiser beds 15 into 60. Many hands you can profitability call with especially if several fold before you.

Lastly people play more straightforwardly. To the point where they advertise their intention to fold or actually do fold out of turn.
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Old 07-11-2018, 02:19 AM   #23
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Re: Let's talk about playing multi-way. Is it ever good?

To the premise of the thread: There are
  • hands that are unhappy multiway (everything with two big unsuited cards except AK, sometimes AQ) and
  • hands that are happy multiway that can also be happy shorthanded.
And then, I agree, small pairs are in a class by themselves. I agree that most of the value of 76 is in grazing the flop and being able to float or raise aggressively, knowing you can often barrel with decent equity if called. That is, you're not playing 76s primarily to make a big hand and cooler somebody.

However, if you try to play it HUIP (say, raise one limper in the HJ or CO) and by accident you end up in a 5 way single-raised pot with 100x stacks, you're not that unhappy. You can flop big draws and have expressed (i.e. not implied) odds to play multiway, or sometimes gutshots with implied odds since you're multiway, etc. And if you chase your draw in position on a multiway flop and it does end up HU or 3h you can often revert to semibluff mode on the turn with a lot of dead money in the pot.

In contrast, AJ or KQ has fewer such fallback options, so I designate them as unhappy multiway. If you end up 5 handed, flop top pair, and your flop bet gets 2 or more callers, you may want to consider pot controlling (depending on the board and reads of course).

Small suited aces aren't really volume-loving hands, at least not in the same way as small pairs, because coolering flush over flush is only a small part of their value. Being able to play a NFD aggressively postflop plus have three extra overcard outs is pretty nice; that aggression can benefit from shorthandedness like any other drawing hand. So again, don't seek to play multiway, but if you end up multiway that's tolerable because you have odds to chase flush draws (along with a little IO from the occasional flush over flush).

However multiway on an ace high board small suited aces are dog **** unless no one else breathes on the pot, so they have a reason to prefer fewer players on the flop.
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Old 07-11-2018, 02:34 AM   #24
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Re: Let's talk about playing multi-way. Is it ever good?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nozsr View Post
I have another viewpoint.

Multi-way pots imply looser players.

That's always a good thing.

Just maybe not for that particular hand, but game selection is more important than occasionally getting too many limpers or callers for a particular holding.
Bingo. Having many people in with weak ranges means you're exchanging one good (the advantage from floating and semibluffing effectively) for another good (getting your strong hand paid off more than it should). I'd rather have the latter although the variance will be nerve-wracking.

But hands will change value. AJ will decrease in value. 33 will become more valuable (unless your game has both a ton of loose players and light reraising preflop; then we have to fold the 33 just wait on AQ+, 99+ and go with it).
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Old 07-11-2018, 02:36 AM   #25
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Re: Let's talk about playing multi-way. Is it ever good?

BTW I love broad theoretical threads like this. 2+2 would benefit from more IMO. Thanks for posting.
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