Since Marsh asked me, I felt a duty and an honor to post on his blog. You can always learn something about this game, and Marsh helped me with a couple tricks early in my poker career.
I thought I would comment on my wife’s play recently, as she has had not one but two four way all ins in her last 2 sessions of casino poker. In all the time I have played, both live and on line, I can’t recall a single four way all in, other than my wife’s. I have seen sets over sets, royal flushes, quads losing to a straight flush (on line), a famous one outer, but never a four way all in. Here is a description of the hands, and then some strategies if you would like to try to duplicate this feat.
Playing in Palm Desert on a loose table with some tourists, locals, and rich people, MB (my wife) has four callers in front of her and looks down at AQ os. Unconventional, I admit, but she min-raises the 5 way limped pot. The flop comes Kc, Jc, 10s. She checks, seat 3, a construction guy who plays aggressively bets $8 into a $20 pot, seat 5 raises to $28, seat 6 folds, seat 9 calls, and MB raises to $60 leaving $28 in chips behind her. Seat 3 looks at MB, says I bet you have AQ and then goes all in for about $75, seat 5 goes all in as well but is covered by seat 3, and seat 9 goes all in too for his last $10. MB then goes all, having everyone covered and capping the action. The next 2 cards blank, seat 3 now famous for not giving anyone odds to suck out, flips over K5 os, seat 5 flips over 9c10c, and seat 9 flips over 8,9 os. MB rakes the monster.
3 months later, playing in London at a $50 pound max table with 1 pound, 1 pound blinds, MB has 3 callers in front of her and looks down at AA in the big blind. Unconventional again, she min raises to 2 pounds. Everyone calls. Since I was not at the table, the replay may be a bit off but it went something like this. The flop comes Q, blank, blank with 2 clubs. MB checks, Seat 4 bets, Seat 6 calls, Seat 8 calls, and MB raises. Everyone calls. The next card is an Ace, not a club. MB goes all in, and seat 4, 6, and 8 all call. Players show AQ for 2 pair drawing dead, the 8 and 3 of clubs, and KJ (the name of the cardroom is the gutshot). The next card blanks and MB rakes another monster.
How did she do it:
• Maximizes value out of premium starting hands. Most all experienced players would have put in more substantial raises preflop. It is tough to min raise with big starting hands, but you are still the most favored hand with AA vs. any other possibilities of starting hands. So even if you are in a four way pot, you may have less than a 50% chance of winning the pot, but will have a greater likelihood of winning against any other starting hand. Min raising with AA in a 4 handed pot is shocking to most players, so few will put you on that hand.
• Look like you don’t know what you are doing when you bet. MB is a very experienced player but she does have an unsure look about her when she bets. Players often think she is a donk and call her down, then get surprised when they lose all of their chips. If you don’t think you can master the donk look when you bet, then make a donk play on purpose for a small amount of chips early in a multi hour session, it may pay off for you beautifully later.
• Play at tables without deep stacks. MB bought into tables where the maximum buyin was 50 times the blind. Obviously, this creates more desperation plays and more donkish behavior.
• Don’t be afraid to be out of position in a multi way pot. Some may disagree here, but I don’t find as much of a disadvantage to out of position play with multiple players involved. You are first to act, but by checking, someone will typically bet top pair, middle pair, or a draw if it is a multiway pot, and then you can make your decision being last to act. Flopping the nuts makes these decisions much easier.
I realize you will have some losses on big pots with this strategy, but if you can win a multi-way pot for every pot you lose, I think the strategy can work and create a positive EV.