This short guide will give you some important factors to consider before entering one of these spots in a live poker game and it’s incredibly hard to find information on this topic in books or anywhere online at this time.
‘There is an overwhelming tendency to flat raises rather than re-raise
which is consistently shown throughout the live player pool’- Me!
In truth there’s only a few select hands that play well as flats in multi-way pots and it is heavily weighted to medium/small pocket-pairs which either flop polar equity (very strong or very weak)
As I’m sure you are aware pairs flop their robust equity when they hit a set but the smaller ones (22-66) can suffer from extreme reverse-implied odds in 200bb+ effective stacks which we must be aware of as the pot grows exponentially with more players coming in.
Other hands that play well in multiway pots are suited aces and suited broadway cards but it is usually favourable to 3bet these hands instead to give us extra playability in 3bet pots whilst simultaneously preventing other players squeezing behind us pre-flop and allowing us more post-flop fold equity vs less players.
Fallacies of live poker:
“Any two cards are good when you have brilliant odds to call preflop!” -badlolregs
“How can you fold for £5 when there’s already £40 in the pot!?” -minus 20bb/hour pros
I’m certain you would have heard that concept over and over again but remember the truth:
“our equity goes down much faster than your pot-odds go up in multiway pots”
So how can we profit from those misconceptions?
- We should 3bet more of our continuing range preflop.
- We should decline to enter pots as a call when we expect the pot to have many (⅘) hands involved unless we have a pocket pair that will not suffer terribly from RIO (Reverse Implied Odds) especially when a bit deeper.
So let’s look at some common spots pre-flop to decide how we should best continue with our range in these types of games.
- Reg opens LJ to £10, a loose-passive player flats in the CO and we are on the button (£300 effective stacks)
The reg will often overfold preflop here when we squeeze because a weaker player is in the pot who will continue close to 100%. Stronger regs will usually be aware that this is more of a spot where they need to 4bet or fold as their equity will be much worse in multiway pots with a significant portion of their range and they are also aware they will be out of position for the duration of the hand which they despise.
Let’s say we have a hand like KQo, the majority of players will flat the £10 raise here inviting weak players to enter the pot with huge portions of the deck whilst also allowing competent players to squeeze profitable hands behind meaning potentially we cannot even realise our mediocre equity!
In this situation the KQo hand has 21.20% equity but in a 5 way pot will have minimal postflop fold-equity (it’s hard to get 4 other players to fold postflop and take down the pot). Hands like this thrive in heads-up pots. Notice that hand strength gets diluted as number of players increase.
Let’s now consider a more lucrative option available to us which is to squeeze to £35. Notice that by squeezing we:
- Blow the initial raiser out of the pot by making him fold (sometimes with blockers).
- Get heads-up against a weaker player postflop who we can get value from.
- Allow us to have some post-flop fold equity.
- Have initiative in position postflop.
- Win the pot without contest rake-free by taking it down pre-flop.
Here’s our new equities keeping these factors in mind and assuming the weaker player will continue with 100% of their range preflop (which they won’t as they will sometimes concede the pot immediately)
So what other hands can we think about squeezing profitably here in this situation?
These hands will have excellent playability post-flop in this situation and will give you an idea of what you can use to isolate the weaker player in this common spot.
In this same spot imagine we have a hand like 77 instead. In this situation it would fare us better to flat preflop and get a multiway pot with huge implied odds and little reverse implied odds. Sometimes it is even better to squeeze hands like 77+ too if there are strong players squeezing their continuing range behind us but this is very unlikely in live poker as we know the remaining players have a strong preference to only call.
Squeezing aggressively builds our table image nicely in live poker allowing us to get paid off easier in the future and frustrating weaker opponents.
Let’s look at another squeeze spot that I see misplayed frequently
2) We open AKo in an early position to £10, we get 2 callers in mid position and the BB squeezes to £40…(£500 effective stacks)
Understand that we cannot flat this hand profitably because if we call and hit our Ace or King we will often be giving ourselves catastrophic reverse implied odds against the set-mining/suited-connected ranges of the other players who will likely enter the hand let alone whatever the BB has decided to squeeze us with.
Do not be shocked to find that our TPTK (top pair top kicker) type hand may not be good in the 400-600bb pot that commences in these frequent spots.
Here we would prefer to employ a 4bet strategy and keep in mind we do not need to 4bet much we only need to complete 2 objectives:
- Deny odds to set-mine profitable for the BB
- Don’t let the pot go multiway
With £500 effective stacks we don’t need to make it 3x the last bet, instead go for something a little larger than a click-back raise so something like £90-£100 to complete the criteria above and entice them into a very poor decision with large portion of their bluffing & thin-value range. Sometimes you will get jammed on and you need to factor in your table image when this happens but know that most of the time they will fold for the 2/1 risk-reward ratio of your bet OR simply continue with a crushed range out of position.
Trust me AK is much easier to play in a £200 pot heads-up with £400 in your stack than a £160 pot with 4 players and £460 in your stack.
So out of interest what hands could we employ to squeeze with in the last scenario if we were the BB and wanted a raising range vs 3 players out of position?
Something like this would work pretty well as a default range to start squeezing with, we are looking at using a strong linear range in these spots. There’s no ‘bluff’ hands because all of them have excellent playability if you have practice in realising your equity post-flop out of position in raised pots.
If you aren’t comfortable with using some of those hands then don’t do it but whatever you do please don’t flat hands like AQo here and go to the flop 4-ways! Widen this range when you think you have decent fold equity and tighten the range when you expect resistance.
As for the squeeze sizing you don’t have to go crazy I see players pump the £10 up to £80 here sometimes, even £60 might be too big, £50-£55 sounds about right to me, remember you only need discourage them from profitable set-mines and you aren’t going to be looking to stack-off KJ on jack-high flops neither. You are just increasing your chances of winning the pot with a nut-making-hand at a good risk-reward ratio with playable hands and avoiding RIO.
3) Reg CO opens to £10 and we have 67s on the button and there is a deep-stacked fish in the BB
Now we have some conflicting objectives because 67s isn’t particularly strong enough to call this raise and it works much better as a 3bet versus a reg but we must continually be looking to play pots against fish. If we can get in a 3-way pot with fish (instead of collecting dead money/ isolating ourselves against the regs stronger range) we massively improve our winrate over time by accumulating the EV of the implied odds we are given especially in a deepstacked games.
Each spot is dynamic and situational make sure you have a reason for every action you take