Playing in Loose Games

An Important Concept

There is an important concept involving loose poker games and bad players that is best illustrated by a situation in the game of razz. For those of you who don’t know, razz is seven card stud played for low. The game is explained in detail in the book Sklansky on Poker.

One concept that Sklansky addresses, which we will expand on here, is that if you hold a slightly better starting hand than your oponent you shouldn’t reraise their opening raise if that opponent is a bad player.

Here’s why. Suppose you start with a three card 6 and your opponent raises with a seven up indicating a probable three card 7. The problem with reraising him is that when there is a double bet on third street it becomes proper to take a second card on fourth street regardless of what happens.

If there wasn’t a double bet on third street, it would be proper to fold on fourth street if you catch a big one and he catches a baby. But your opponent won’t make this foold if it comes the other way. So you should just call to keep fourth street from becoming a “shootout” where you and he will now play the same.

The general idea is that you extract the most money from your opponents by putting them in a position to make big mistakes. Sometimes that means manipulating the pot size into one that is most likely to be a size where they make errors.

Occasionally you make the pot bigger early to make them chase more those times you flp a great hand.

Other times you keep it smaller to keep the poker hand from being a shootout where you have to chase just as they will. Of course, it is not worth making these plays if you give up too much on the earlier round. Only in marginal situations should you make a lesser expected value play for the sake of future benefits. But these marginal situations do come up a lot, so try to recognize them.