If you play a lot of cash games, you are inevitably going to be involved in a lot of multi-way pots. The key to surviving and thriving in these situations is to understand which hands play well and which hands can get you into trouble.
In multi-way pots it is more than likely that two or more players will connect with the flop, particularly on a textured board that offers straight or flush draw possibilities. With this in mind it will become obvious that to win a multi-way pot you will need a stronger hand than you would need against just one opponent. In hands with just one or two players, top pair will often be enough to rake in the pot. But when four or more players see the flop, you are going to need a hand that is better than two pair to have a chance at victory.
In these scenarios don’t get carried away with hands such as top pair or top kicker, or even top pairs like Aces or KK’s. Always take the texture of the board into consideration and if you are holding pocket AA’s, and four people are in with a board of 7h, 8h and 9d, you should be very wary about continuing with your hand, especially if there is any kind of action in front of you. Remember that big pairs generally play best if you are heads up. In a multi-way pot situation, at least one of the players will most likely make their hand on the flop.
So, if big pairs appear troublesome in multi-way pots, the question becomes, “Which hands play best in these types of situations?” Often times, small and medium pairs play very well here because if you flop a set, it is likely to hold up. Additionally, if you flop a set on a board that also brings a high card such as an Ace, K or Q, chances are good that one or more of your opponents will make a hand that will end up paying you off.
Big suited cards such as AK, AQ and KQ can also play well in multi-way pots, because they will offer you the chance to make a big straight or a nut flush and then you may find yourself in the running to taking down a large pot. But be careful with these hands if you’ve just flopped something like top pair because it is likely that one of your opponents may have out-flopped you. A hand like AK can be particularly troublesome when you’ve flopped top pair. It looks better than it is and it is likely to cost you a lot of money if you are not careful. Be very careful if you have flopped top pair in a multi-way pot, because if one of your opponents is willing to put in a lot of money, chances are he has you beat.