Explanation of Side pot

Side pots are formed in multiway scenarios where one player is already all-in. This is best illustrated with an example. Imagine player A, B and C are all-in on the flop with the following total stack sizes.

Player A: 30bb
Player B: 100bb
Player C: 150bb

The shortest stack always defines the effective stack for the main pot. Since player A has only 30bb, the maximum size of the main pot is 90bb for three players (30bb * 3). 

Player B has 70bb remaining for which he can compete against player C for the side pot. Note that 50bb of player C’s stack cannot be invested because he is only 100bb deep effective with player B.

In summary:

Main Pot: 90bb (Player A, B or C can win this)
Side pot: 140bb (Side pot between player B and C only)

Let’s imagine that player A has the best hand of the three, while player B has the second best hand. How many chips will player B win?

Player B will gain nothing from the main pot but will win the entire 140bb side pot. He will hence profit by 40bb overall (since he risked 100bb with his all-in).

Example of Side Pot used in sentence -> The short stack was already all-in so we were competing for a side pot.

How to Use Side pot as Part of Your Poker Strategy 

Recognizing side-pots is important and can have a big effective on correct strategy. A “dry side pot” occurs when one player is already all-in but the other players remaining in the pot have yet to make a side-pot wager. For example, in Hold’em on the flop

Player 1: 50bb remaining
Player 2: 50bb remaining
Player 3: Already all-in

Player 1 and 2 need to be careful about attempting to bluff one another. Even if player 1 manages to fold out player 2 he will still need to see a showdown against player 3 who is already all-in and can never fold.

This is an important strategic concept and one that is frequently overlooked by novice players. It’s almost never correct to bluff into a dry side pot.

See Also 

All-in, Bluff, Fold, Hold’em

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