In a multiway pot the player that calls next to act usually has a draw or a strong hand, especially from out of position. Use this to your advantage.
A few weeks ago I played a very interesting hand at the Bicycle Casino where I got absolutely “owned”. The situation brings up a unique spot in multiway pots where a player in the blind calls “next to act” on the flop.
The game was $5-$10-$20 and the table was very good. I had a decent image and sat with about $4000. The villain in the hand was a recreational player that rarely slowplays and sat with a similar stack on the button. A player in Mp1 raised preflop to $80, the cutoff and button called and I completed for $60 more out of the big blind with 5♣ 7♣. The flop came out Q♣ 9♠ 3♣ giving me a naked flush draw. I checked, the preflop raiser and cutoff checked and the button bet $200. In some cases I will attack the field bettor in this spot with a semi bluff but in this situation my draw was not strong so I elected to just call. Both the other players folded and we saw the Q♦ turn. At this point I checked intending to check-fold. If you have any experience in No Limit Holdem you realize that this is almost never going to be a profitable spot to call and if our opponent bets again he most likely has trips or a higher flush draw. We are also out of position and our hand is somewhat obvious if the front door draw completes making it less likely that we will get paid off.
However, after I checked my opponent did not bet. I interpreted his check to mean that he had a draw or a pair and I never expected him to have trip queens that were not full. I ranged him on higher clubs, a nine or a hand like JT or KJ. If I blank came at the end I was going to bluff the river. But, the river brought a five, pairing my hand so I checked. My opponent then bombed $500. I thought that this was quite a polarizing bet, never expected this sizing with just a nine and figured he would show up with a missed draw or a full house—so I called. My opponent turned over Q♥6♥ and raked in a good-sized pot.
This hand got me thinking of similar situations when we bet last to act in a multiway pot and someone calls in the blind next to act. Usually in these hands the blind will have either top pair or a draw because he has to worry about the players behind him. So, if we have a hand like a weak top pair that turns trips what is our best play?
Conventional thinking is to bet again to charge the draws. Trips in Holdem is a pretty strong hand and this bet almost is intuitively automatic. But when we examine the situation more in depth can we sometimes win more money or lose less by checking back the turn? Especially against an opponent that will interpret our turn check as weakness and will bluff the river (me in this case) checking makes a lot of sense. If the player in the blind has QJ+ or a draw, and will bet his missed draws when the board bricks out but will fold draws to a turn bet you can see how checking behind here is clearly the more profitable play. Now I would not check back strong hands like KQ+ in this situation all that often because I would want to get value from lesser queens but with a hand like QT and below we actually lose less money to a stronger hand by checking the turn and gain money from our opponent bluffing us. The downside to this play is that we give a free card to a draw, but the draws in this case are pretty transparent. We may even need to call the river when some of the draws complete if the opponent is capable of bluffing to represent the made draw.