Multiway pots

Sometimes when you have more than one opponent on the river, it's not obvious how to play a big hand. For instance, suppose you have made the nut flush on the river, a player bets into you, and there is a player behind you to act. Should you raise? With a single opponent, the answer is obvious — raise. However, in this case, you may want to call instead. If the original bettor is bluffing (or has great respect for you), you might win no further bets if both opponents fold for the raise whereas the player behind you might have called a single bet. Furthermore, if the player behind you has a smaller flush, he may raise, giving you an opportunity to make it three bets when the betting comes back around to you.

A similar situation happens when you think you have the best hand, but not the nuts. Now you'd rather get one bet from two people instead of two bets from one person. That way, if you're beaten, you lose one bet rather than two (or three). Suppose you make a flush on the river, but it's not the nut flush, or the board is paired. If there is a bet in front of you, you should normally call, hoping the player behind you will call as well. Raising will not force out a hand better than yours, but opens the door to either of your opponents re-raising, which you would prefer not happen.

Marginal hands lose much of their value in multi-way pots. If you have just one opponent, we've seen that you often have to call, even if it's a little questionable. However, if you have two or more opponents, your chances of having the best hand are greatly diminished. This is particularly true when you're last to act and already know that you have to beat two or more hands. In short, your hand must be very strong to overcall.

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