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Understanding Poker Side Pots

Understanding Poker Side Pots

Side pots are a poker phenomenon that a lot of players are bound to run into as they compete across different styles of events. Here are a few introductory tips to help you understand side pots and their impact on your game.

You’ll notice side pots on tables where there are two separate piles of chips set up. One is the regular pot that is most commonly seen in games and the other is the focus of our article. The side pot comes into play as some players go all-in while others still continue to bet with larger numbers of chips. Once this has occurred, a side pot is created through player contribution and it becomes an addition to the main pot up for offer.

The all-in player will only be able to compete for the side pot created to cover their bet but all others are able to vie for the extra prize. As many side pots as are necessary will be created throughout the game and they are awarded in the reverse order from which they were created.

These situations will also crop up quite commonly during longer games and physical play. If you’re running the game yourself remember to keep the golden rule of side pots in mind; ensuring that everyone contributes equally to the pot and it should all work out properly.

Mucking in Poker

Although most adhere to a strict rule to never reveal their cards at the end of a poker hand, many have conflicting opinions regarding mucking as a psychological tool. Even though card showing can sometimes hold its value for this purpose in amateur-level games, it’s a bad plan for any stake level above the lower, familiar rungs of play.

It’s almost never a good idea to muck your hand, no matter how badly you want to share your result with the rest of the table. A situation such as losing with AK on an AK10 flop can be a siren song to show your cards after investing money in the betting action before a loss. Just the same, playing through to the end and mucking your hand will only serve to reveal how smart and/or lucky you were up until the endgame — it won’t bring your lost chips back.

Many players seem to think that showing their pocket after a bad beat serves to establish your reputation as smart competitor and give others a reason to respect your actions but this instinct can be counter-productive. Rather than mucking your hand, allow for the mystery of why you played the way you did. There is almost never a good situation for revealing your actual thinking in a game of poker.

It may seem like an elementary rule to follow but knowing to never muck your cards is one basic habit to keep in mind if you want every possible edge in your game. While it can be incredibly tempting to reveal your bad beat it’s always a good idea to ignore the opportunity and keep your cards close to your chest.

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Lessons in Poker Bluffing: Part Three

This is the third part of a three part series of Poker Bluffing. The first part can be found here - Poker Bluffing Part One and the second part can be found here - Poker Bluffing Part Two.

Having a few basic strategies with poker bluffing related to table position is obviously important but it’s also a good idea to know how to deal with the number of players still left in the hand when considering your bluffing actions.

The number of opponents still active at a table or within a given hand can be important to consider in your bluffing choices. When you’re bluffing an entire table you become much more likely to escape scrutiny and hold a greater opportunity to trick others into favourable actions. Regular semi-bluffing can be a valuable technique against larger sets of active players but quitting bluffing entirely in the end game is often advisable.

Poker Bluffing against one or two players becomes much more difficult and can present some problems as we mentioned above. Consistent bluffing is unadvisable when you’ve reached a showdown situation for the simple fact that your every decision is now being closely monitored by a single competitor. By the time you’ve reached a showdown the goal is usually to take home the pot rather than bulk it up so the risks associated with bluffing are often too great to warrant.

A good rule of thumb for bluffing any number of opponents lies in always reading the known table cards. Whether you’re up against one or nine other competitors, manipulating the amount of information available through the river, your own pocket and any mucked hands, allows you to bluff intelligently and, ultimately, persuasively.