How To Play Multi-Way Pots In Online Poker Tournaments

How To Play Multi-Way Pots In Online Poker Tournaments

Online poker has become increasingly popular over the years, and one of the most challenging aspects of the game is playing in multi-way pots. A multi-way pot is when three or more players are involved in a hand, and it can be particularly tricky because there are more variables to consider. In this article, we will explore the dynamics of multi-way pots and the strategies that can be used to gain an edge in these scenarios.

Preflop Ranges In Multi-Way Pots

The first thing to understand about multi-way pots is that the strategy you are going to use differs from heads-up pots. When there are more players involved, there are more ranges interacting, and the pot can grow much bigger. You must adjust your strategy accordingly, mostly by adjusting your ranges preflop. You want to be selective about the hands you play, and only enter the pot with strong hands that have the potential to win against multiple opponents. If you are playing in a loose online poker game where many players are seeing the flop, you need to tighten up your range. 

The Power of Position In Poker

The power of position is multiplied in multi-way pots because you have more data in front of you. Position is critical in online poker, and it’s especially important in multi-way pots. Having the positional advantage gives you more information to work with when playing online poker. If you are on the button in a three-way pot, you will have two players acting before you. This means that you will be able to see what they do before you make your move. If several players have called a bet, it is likely that at least one of them has strong hands, and you should be cautious about continuing in the hand unless you also have a premium holding.  By using your position to your advantage, you can improve your decision making process and increase your chances of winning.

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Understanding The Concept Of Blockers

The blocker effect is another important factor to consider in multi-way pots when playing online poker tournaments. The blocker effect is multiplied in these situations because you are blocking multiple ranges of hands. In online poker, a blocker is a card that makes it less likely or impossible for your opponents to have a particular hand. For example, if you hold the A in your hand, it is less likely that your opponents have a flush draw as you block many combos of suited aces they could be continuing with. By understanding the ranges of hands that you are blocking, you can come up with new stratagems to beat your opponents out of the pots or make big calls when your blockers allows you to! 

Avoid Thin Value Bets In Multi-Way Pots

Another factor to consider in multi-way pots in online poker games is that there is often little to no thin value betting with medium strength hands. Thin value betting is the act of making a small bet or raise with a hand that is not very strong in order to extract value from your opponent’s weaker hands. If you have a medium-strength hand such as a second pair with a weak kicker, betting in a multi-way pot is likely not optimal. The lack of optimability is due to multiple players being involved in the hand, as it is highly possible that one of your opponents has a stronger hand than you. By playing a more passive strategy and focusing on getting to showdown with your medium strength hands, you can avoid making costly mistakes!

Navigating Straight Draws And Flush Draws

A key poker tip for playing in multi-way pots is to focus on hands that have the potential to win big pots. Often these hands are ones that can make strong flushes or straights. Your strongest draws will go up in value, while weaker draws go down in value due to reverse implied odds. Reverse implied odds refer to situations where you’re drawing to a hand that may be no good even when you hit (like the bottom end of a 4 straight), so when you make your hand you lose even more chips. In multi-way pots, since there are more players involved the likelihood of someone having a stronger draw than you increases. Therefore, you only want to play the best draws in your range to avoid expensive cooler scenarios. Hands that can make the strongest draws often go up in value in multi-way pots because there are more players involved, which usually increases the size of the pot and the potential rewards if the draw is completed. 

Minimum Defense Frequency

The minimum defense frequency (MDF) is the percentage of the pot that a player must defend with their range to prevent their opponent from exploiting them with bluffs. In multi-way pots, the burden of defense is shared among the remaining players in a hand, and it mostly weighs on the last player to act. If there are four players in a pot and one player bets, the remaining three players must collectively defend their ranges at the MDF to prevent the initial bettor from exploiting them. If two players fold, the final player to act must carefully consider their range and the MDF when deciding whether to call or fold. When facing a bet in a multi-way pot, if you are not closing the action, you do not need to defend as much as the one who is.

Multi-Way Pots And The Independent Chip Model

The ICM (Independent Chip Model) is another crucial factor to consider in multi-way pots in online poker. The ICM risk premium effect is amplified in these situations because multiple risk premiums are involved. In online poker, the ICM risk premium refers to the additional value of chips in a tournament situation due to the increasing payouts and the risk of busting out. Players with larger stacks should be more conservative and avoid taking unnecessary risks when multi-way, while players with smaller stacks can gamble in order to increase their chip stack. 

Bet Sizes In Multi-Way Pots: Bet Small!

When playing in a multi-way pot, it is important to be aware of the potential for different players to have strong hands. Be more cautious with your bets and raises, as there is a higher chance that someone will have a better hand than you. Most of your bet sizes should be either small or medium, a small bet size multi-way weighs as much as a big bet heads-up!

The Poker Player In The Middle

Very often but not always, when looking at multi-way pots in online poker, if a player is sandwiched between two other players, they usually do not have any raising range and will protect their calling range with all of their strong hands. Calling allows them to keep the pot multi-way. If the player in between is raising, it becomes easy for the player left to act to get away from the pot.  


By following these multi-way strategies for online poker, you can increase your chances of winning and make the most of every hand. Remember to play tight preflop, pay attention to your position, be careful with your bets, go only for the best draws, do not bet for thin value, and always keep MDF and ICM in mind. With practice and experience, you can become a skilled player in multi-way pots and take your online poker game to the next level.

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