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Reading Hands in Multi-Way Pots

Another factor in reading hands and deciding how to play your own is the number of players in the pot. Any time someone bets and someone else calls, you are in a more precarious position than when it is just up to you to call. In general, a caller ahead of you makes it necessary for you to tighten up significantly because you no longer have the extra equity that the bettor may be bluffing. Whether he is bluffing or not, the second player must have something to call. Therefore, when your hand is barely worth a call in a heads-up situation because of the extra chance of catching a bluff, it is not worth an overcall when someone else has called ahead of you.

Here is an example of such a situation that came up in a small ante razz games You ware playing. On the first three cards You had an:

A decent hand but not a great one. The high card brought it in, and a player called with a 5 showing. You ware prepared to call or possibly raise. However, a player ahead of me, who was playing tight, raised with a 4 showing. Had the first player with the 5 showing not called the initial bet, You would have called the raiser with your 8,5,2 because, though the raiser was playing tight, there would have been a chance he was semi-bluffing. But since the raiser raised another low card that had already called, it was almost a certainty he had a better hand than You did; and there was also the probability the first caller had a good hand. Therefore, given the small ante, your hand was no longer worth a call.

The same sort of thinking must be employed when deciding whether to call a raise cold. With very few exceptions, you need a better hand to call a raise cold than you would need to raise yourself The simple logic of this principle can be set forth through an example from draw poker. Let's say in the games you are playing you decide to raise before the draw with aces up or better. You look at your hand and find you have three 2s. You're prepared to raise, but all of a sudden the player to your right, who will also raise with aces up or better, puts in a raise. Now instead of raising, you can't even call. You must fold because the chances are too good that the raiser has you beat.

This principle applies to any games. When you have a minimum or near-minimum raising hand and the player to your right, who has the same standards as yours, raises ahead of you, then his hand is probably better than yours, and your correct play is to fold.

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