Poker strategy ?

Why is it considered bad strategically to bet into an empty side pot? Isn’t the object in a tourney to acquire all the chips?

Tournament poker isn’t all-or-nothing. The way the prizes are structured, 3rd place pays more than 4th, 4th pays more than 5th, etc. The objective is really to last as long as possible. Winning would be ideal, but the money for second place is nothing to sneeze at. For those who play for a living, any tournament where you win more than your entry fee (plus whatever expenses) could be considered a victory, of a sort.

So tournament strategy isn’t just to think in terms of chips, but in terms of how far it will get you in the tournament. Suppose it’s late in a tournament, ten players left. One player goes all-in, and two players (with more chips) call. In later betting rounds on that hand, either of those two players can make a bet and start a side pot. But why should they; what’s in it for them? If they both check down to the end of the hand, the all-in player has to beat them both.

Suppose Mr. All-in has 2-2, the other players are A-K (Mr. A) and Q-J (Mr. B). Any A, K, Q, or J will make a higher pair and knock a player out in 10th place. For those that remain, the worst they can do now is to finish 9th.

Suppose instead that Mr. A does make a bet to create a side pot. Mr. B thinks he’s beat, so he folds, and that means he can’t win the main pot, either. What does Mr. A get for his trouble? He doesn’t get any more chips into the pot, he still needs an A or K to win the main pot, and Mr. All-in now has a much better chance to win the hand and stay in the game. Maybe Mr. A will go all-in next and finish 10th.

Winning chips is great, but there’s an advantage in knocking players out (no matter who gets their chips) because you’re now in a smaller group competing for higher prize money.

I would say the sin is to bluff into an empty side pot. I see nothing wrong with betting a strong holding to try and get more value from the ‘live’ opponents when in that situation.

Bluffing in these cases though is just protecting the all in player, and especially once you have started laddering up the cash payouts, you want that player gone.

Right, it’s BLUFFING an empty side pot that’s a bad idea. It can’t help you take the main pot. Either your opponent folds and you lose to the all-in player, or he calls your bluff and you’re out. Nothing to gain, everything to lose.

Value betting an empty side pot is fine.

ITA bluffing is a bad idea! I’m talking about betting a legit hand. (Like a set or 2 pair)

I have no problem betting into an empty side pot if I have a strong hand.

If I am confident of beating the all-in player, then I am simply playing a normal game against the third player. I will want to maximise my potential winnings, and often the best way to do that is to bet, to create action the third player has to follow.

Thats with strong hands though. With marginal hands, even top pairs or similar, it is usually better to check it down. Eliminating a player is more important at this stage than milking a few chips from the third player, and that is more likely with more players in the pot.

Its a judgement call. If I had a set or better, then I would bet it out. If not, check it down.

RobotArm explains it best. IMO, it is only bad form to bet into a empty side pot if the players are already “in the money”. If you bet into a empty side pot, and induce the “live” opponent to fold, it gives the all-in player a better chance at winning. But if you make the absolute nuts, it is not bad form, and, in fact, you may get penalized if you do not bet the absolute nuts (if you are the last player to act).

The Phil Hellmuth’s and Johnny Chan’s can talk all they want about “bracelets” but most pro players just want to win money

There’s a complete explanation of this in Dan Harrington’s books.

In a nutshell, the amount you get from eliminating a player is less than the amount you get from moving up one more place in the standings, especially on the final table.

It can be argued that bluffing into a empty sidepot is necessary to balance your play. If you only bet when you have the nuts your opponents know more about your hand range and can fold their marginal hands.