One of the key fundamentals in poker is the concept of “card removal”
We can all agree facing preflop decisions against only 1 opponent is much more comfortable than facing 2 or more opponents. However, as we know poker is not a game of comfort!
How do you study those multiway situations? How much experience do you have in them? Do you feel confident enough to know what kind of hands to defend against 2 or more players? What about squeezing and overcalling?
I am very confident in saying that almost everyone is playing poorly when it comes to multiway spots and the edge to be gained is huge! Even better, you can gain it rather quick since most of the players are playing multiway based on their “feeling” and “intuition”.
In this article I want to elaborate deeper on overcalling against 2 or more opponents and which factors play a key role. I also want to give you some very practical advice you can incorporate in your game right away. I love keeping it practical and I don’t want to layout some generic wisdom bullshit like “yeah you can play a bit looser and here a bit tighter” without giving you some clear advice.
Let’s kick it off with a typical example:
100bb Effective with all players involved
UTG open raises to 2.5bb and MP calls. We are in the Big blind. What range would you defend (Do it on your own before you move on)? Let’s take a look what the ranges from the Tournament Masterclass would suggest in this spot.
As you can see, it is quite tight. Hands you would defend all day long are not even in this range. You might be asking some questions at this point. We defend 54o but fold Q6s? We fold A9o but call 52s?
Why is that? What about 98o and 87o? Aren’t they performing very well against our opponents broadway heavy and Ax heavy range?
Let me explain the range shown above. One of the key fundamentals in poker is the concept of “card removal”. That means you have to take into consideration your opponents possible holdings and how it can impact your range.
Let’s take a look into our opponents opening range.
As you can see, his range is very heavily defined around the broadway hands. If we have a hand like J9o or JTo, our outs to make a straight are heavily blocked. Making pairs is tough too since we are going to be dominated quite often. Also, we haven’t even considered the 2nd player involved. Let’s take a look at MPs calling range
If he flats, most of the time he will have 88/99 or KQs AJs QJs type of hands which again, block so many outs to flop draws or pairs and we can’t continue postflop. However, the green circle indicates how few 2x-7x our opponents have in their range and we will more frequently flop straight draws, 2-pairs or trips.
Of course, it very much varies from which position we face the open raise and from which position we face a flat call; but when being out of position against our opponents, we have to be careful against tighter ranges. Of course, it changes when playing against a late position open raise and for example a BU flat call.
Stack sizes also come into play. When being shorter, you can start defending a little wider since you are more often incentivized to check/shove flops, which leads to a higher equity realization for your entire range. More importantly, people deploy smaller open raise sizes with shorter stacks (<40bb).
I will cover shorter stack sizes more in depth in the next article.
Let’s have a final look into an EP 2.5bb open raise with 100bb effective and a Small Blind flat call. How do you think it would change our BB flat call range?
As you can see, we defend much wider even though SBs range is relatively strong too. However, they have more suited connectors and smaller pairs in the calling range, so defending more suited Qx Jx and more QTo and JTo type of hands is way more appealing. Also having position on the SB is crucial which increases the EV of every single hand we are defending with.
You might also wonder why we would be bluff squeezing with hands like KQo and JTs; I know that you find it very natural to call those hands. The answer is very simple. You don’t want to 3bet fold these hands and face a 4bet. When playing against multiple opponents vs tighter range, you have to have STRONG bluffs, otherwise you will lose a ton of money post flop. Also, the most likely scenario is that you are being called from at least one of the players. So you shouldn’t worry about facing 4bets which will happen only 4-6% of the time. Even if it is 10%, you are getting called 30-60% of the time. So your main focus should be having the ideal strategy when being called.
I hope this article helped to shed some more light when it comes to defending multiway preflop.