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   Stealing Side Pots
   Tilt and check-call
Stealing Side Pots

People call on the river for many reasons. The largest of which is that they think they are winning the hand. However there are a couple more subtle reasons. Occasionally a sort of a feud breaks out between two players. In this short time span they take turns betting up pots, it seems as if to see who can bet more with a worse hand. Another reason is interest in seeing what the bettor has been playing with. Even if they think they are losing if it's a cheap call they may rationalize that it is worth paying to learn more about someone else's game. Another reason is just to show that they won't stand around and let the bettor bully the table. They sacrifice this money for three reasons. One of which is that they want to gamble and although they don't believe they have a strong hand there is a chance they could win. Beyond that they want to reveal the weakness of the bettors hand as well as say "look, I called you with no-pair ten high, better stop messing around".

Multi-way pots which consist of both live-players and all-in-players represent a situation which screams buy the side pot. Let us consider the reason's why:

First off there is at least one player who believes enough in the strength of his hand that he has gone all-in. This aspect is more important at a cash game and at later stages in a tournament than early on in a tournament when there is a field full of looser players and re-buys in the wait. If in fact the all-in hand is that strong it means your opponents hands are weaker.

Secondly, those people willing to pay for information about your hand would rather get it for free.

Thirdly, the player that thought he would take a stand against you by calling with a hand which is probably losing has even less to possibly gain because the pot has been partitioned. This detracts from the gambling aspect of calling and tips the scales in favor of a fold. His remaining resolve to lose money by calling to prove a point and expose your hand for what it is has been relieved by the fact that you will have to showdown with or without him.

The next issue to consider is that in order to steal a side pot one needs to exist. Beyond existing it needs to be worth more than what you put into the primary pot. If this hasn't been taken care of pre-flop or at the flop you must be sure to get money in on the turn. Throughout the process you must be playing in a manner which says that you have the winning hand and are committed to a showdown. This is demonstrated through constant bets and raises and probably by betting nearly everything on the river.

The greatest risk in a strategy like this is that one of the larger stacks has decided to slow play AA or a high pocket pair or over pair, and not fold it to any amount of action. If this happens you will most likely pay him off. However it is more likely that he is the one all in and or that he will fold to your continued betting despite his original resolve.

It is important to remember that employing a strategy like this also relies on having somewhat of an average to tight table image. If you have been playing like a maniac or even if you have legitimately won the last couple of hands, but without a showdown, it's not an appropriate time to try this.

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