Many times in limped pots if you play close attention to the action your opponents from out of position will play their hands “face up”. Many players will check a weak top pair out of the blinds in multiway pots but usually players that have over limped in the field, especially on draw heavy boards, will bet hands that they want to protect or to a lesser extent any pair if they are in late position. So many times in a multiway pot if the action has been checked to you you do not have to worry too much about the players to your right. If they have a hand strong enough to call they would have bet themselves. That leaves only the upfront players to get through. And on boards where top pair is likely to change that gives you a green light to steal the pot.
Let us take a look at a hand that I played at $5-$10 at the Commerce Casino last week. The table was a typical loose passive live game and the stacks were somewhat deep. There were several “big” spots at the table, which caused me to limp in with some very speculative hands in position. In one hand, 4-5 people limped in in front of me and I over limped with T8os. The blinds checked and we saw the hand six ways to a flop of 9♥ 2♠ 5♣. The action got checked around to me and I decided to bet $45. Now obviously I totally missed this flop but I thought that most people, if they were after the blinds would bet a 9 or a five. In fact, I surmised if I could get through the blinds I would definitely take it down. The small blind, who was next to act called and everyone else folded. I thought his range was a hand like a 9, A3, A4 or 34. It was unlikely that he was calling with anything weaker than top pair or a draw because of all of the player left to act behind him. The turn brought a K♦ and he checked again. This time I bet $125 and he folded 8♠9♠ face up.
This is a perfect example of using positional awareness and hand reading. The fact that I had basically no real equity on the flop besides the overcards did not matter. I knew that the people to my right were relatively weak because they hadn’t bet and that even if someone were check calling with a nine from up front that it would be difficult for him to call a lot of money later on.
These simple concepts are often times ignored by fit or fold players. We can always make money from a donk overplaying their hand but there a spots like these that arise more commonly where there is free money to be won. So, you should play close attention to what is going on around you—especially in small pots that no one really cares about.