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Poker Workshop: How to Play a Flopped Set in Multi-Way Pot

Ben Wilinofsky is a former European Poker Tour (EPT) Main Event champion and World Poker Tour (WPT) final tablist.

He's earned close to $1.4m playing live tournaments and close to $5m playing online tournaments under the alias NeverScaredB.

In 2013 Albert Daher was runner-up to Alexey Rybin at the WPT Merit Cyprus Classic; he has also won an EPT side event and cataloged a series of impressive six-figure scores at the Merit Crystal Cove Casino in Kyrenia.

He has earned closed to $1m in live tournament earnings but makes most of his money playing live cash games.

Both players kindly agreed to dissect a hand I played in the World Series of Poker Monster Stack event where I flopped a set in a multi-way pot. Here are the two views of Ben Wilinofsky and Albert Daher.

How to Play a Set in Multi-Way Pot

WSOP Monster Stack Day 1

Level 5 Blinds 100/200 a25

Stack Sizes

Hero - 19,000

Elderly Gentlemen - 20,000

Cutoff - 15,000

Elderly Lady - 19,000

An elderly gentleman limped in early position. I limped in mid position with pocket treys. The cutoff limped before a tight elderly lady made it 600 on the button; the blinds folded and everyone else called.

Flop:  7 hearts 7 6 diamonds 6 3 clubs 3

The elderly gentleman led for 1,200. I called, the cutoff folded and the elderly lady raised to 2,500. The player in early position called. I made it 7,200 and only the elderly lady called.

Turn: K hearts K

I moved all-in for 11k and she called with 76o.

Pre-Flop Analysis

how to play a set
Ben Wilinofsky

Ben Wilinofsky: Raising or folding pre are both bad with pocket threes. I assume most pots are going multi-way, threes don’t make particularly good semi-bluffs and you rarely make hands you want to value bet.

So raising doesn't make sense. You're going to end up mostly check-folding or stabbing once, getting called and not having a profitable way to continue from that point forward.

Albert Daher: I would probably isolate the first limper since it’s an older guy and I’m going to win the pot most of the time with a c-bet. Saying that I think limping behind 100bb deep is more than fine since you are going to cooler someone if you go multi-way to the flop and flop a set.

So I think you should mix it up pre-flop. Sometimes limping is the right play and other times isolating the weaker player is the right play.

My Thoughts: When playing this deep, and in middle position, I always limp with small pocket pairs. This is part of my problem. I seem to have a default line for most of my plays.

On one hand this is good because it allows me to make the play without thinking about it, but those benefits need to be balanced with due cognizance given to the type of player I am making these plays against.

Post-Flop Analysis

Ben Wilinofsky: On the flop, raising the lead is bad. It looks super strong four-ways with the pre-flop raiser who has shown down the goods still behind you. You might get her to hero-fold jacks when you raise flop.

how to play a flopped set poker
Albert Daher (Photo: Neil Stoddart, PokerStars)

When you call she can raise one pair for value and players behind can overcall drawing dead. And sometimes people bluff. So many bad things happen and so few good things happen when we raise vs. the limper. He can't even really stack off with worse, except 76.

Once she makes the tiny raise we have to evaluate what the other player is leading and calling a small raise with. I think in general you should 3-bet here because letting him peel another card with 55 or 44 is pretty disastrous and letting the old lady get scared of a 3-way pot and check back a turn is also disastrous.

It cuts us off from our best-case-scenario tree (where we get another bet out of the other player), but the parlay that needs to happen for us to go three ways to the turn and get a card that doesn't scare the old lady, and get her to bet, and get the other guy to call, is just way too thin.

So I think you played this hand perfect on the flop. If I had to nitpick anything it's that I would probably make it 6,500 instead of 7.200; it's easier for people to call when they put fewer chips in and it also looks small enough to be a silly bluff.

The turn is inconsequential. Once we get three bets in on the flop it's going to be hard not to get the rest in. Make an evaluation based on the other hands you've seen her play, whether to bet or check and how much, but it's going to be hard to screw this one up.

Related Reading:

flopping a set
Weak player or a pro?

Albert Daher: After the first guy donk-bets I would always flat expecting the tight lady to raise. So that was played perfectly. But when you flat then 3-bet the old lady’s raise I think you are always nutted.

A pro will figure this out and could easily fold a hand as strong as an overpair. I think a very good pro would even fold top two since you can only have sets or better in that spot.

Now, against weaker players, I would play the same, wanting to get as much money in as fast as possible since your opponent might get scared by some turns, like a 4 or a 5, which puts one-card straights out there.

So basically against pros I would slow play and probably check-shove the turn. Against weaker players I would play the exact same way as you.

My Thoughts: I was fortunate in as much as both players had played incredibly straight forward up until this point. If they raised they were strong, and if they limped they were weak. I only had eyes for the elderly lady because since she raised pre-flop I pegged her on a strong hand.

I called the flop lead because I expected the PFR to raise. Like Albert said I didn’t want to her to fold a semi-strong hand because of my raise. I was prepared to 3-bet should she raise and was ready to get it in at any point during the hand.

Regarding Ben’s point with respect to making the flop 3-bet smaller, I made it bigger in the hope that he would fold and I would be heads up with the elderly lady. At no time during this stage of the hand was I thinking of keeping him in the hand by making the 3-bet smaller.

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