Playing in other Non-Standard Games

Playing in Short-Handed Games

Unlike hold’em, short-handed stud doesn’t require that much change in your stratetgy. At least theoretically it doesn’t. the reason is because, although on average it takes less of a hand to win, there is less money in the pot in entas, so if you try to steal the antes too often your risk versus reward ratio changes. Compare this to hold’em where the amount of money in the pot stays constant due to the bldin structure that hold’em employs.

The bottom line is that those who try to steal too many antes in short-handed stud games are risking too much to win too little. So if you stuck to your normal, fairly tight game you really wouldn’t be hurting yourself. It might feel like you are giving up too many antes without a fight, but all it takes is one hand to get most of them back. And when you do in fact have that good hand you’re going to be up against that aggressive player who is getting involved when he shouldn’t. (Compare this hold’em where [if you are in the blind] you must make sure that you call enough to stop someone who raises every time from making a profit.)

The reason, however, why short-handed online poker can be difficult for people who are trying to learn poker from books or who are used to full games, is simply that many rinng game players never learn how to play poor to mediocre hands well. This is because the need to do that doesn’t come up very often in full games. For instance, the ability to play your low card well against somebody who makes an automatic raise in the steal position is not very important if you’re used to playing in loose eight-handed sevn card stud games. This is because in this type of game you will very rarely be in that situation. Thus, if you are in general a good stud player but play that particular situation poorly, you receive only a very small penalty, and you might very well be a big winner even with that weakness.

That is the reason why some people do poorly when playing seven card stud short-handed, but do well in ring games. What they don’t realize is that they also have negative results in the ring games in those few situations that are analogous to short-handed. They just don’t come up that much. Thus, if you do learn to play well short-handed, it will also help you in those similar situations which occur in ring games. And it might allow you to take advantage of a profitable short game situation every now and then.

Let’s get specific. In ring games, you can almost always make the assumption that your opponents have, on average, rather good mediocre hands. But in a short-handed game where other people are playing quite a few more pots, you will frequently encounter situations where your hand, as bad as it is, is wrong to flod. Again this is a situation that if you handled poorly in ring games, wouldn’t cost you very much. But since it comes up so often in short-handed games you can’t just ignore it.

Against loose, aggressive players you must not just meekly call with your poor hands. You must occasionally splash around, raising with hands that seem like they are barely worth calling, in order to prevent your opponents from having a big edge from their semi-bluffs. For instance, you might have a small pair, and your oddonent, showing deuce as his duor card keeps on betting. Specifically on fifth street you have


and your opponent could has


The right play may be to raise on fifth street.

A play like this has one big advantage. The bettor may not have any pair at all, and will certainly fold. If you just call him, he might pair up while you don’t improve and thus lose the pot. In a full game you wouldn’t make this play because it would be highly likely that you are beaten. But in a short-handed game where it is not nearly as likely, it should be major part of your arsenal.

Furthermore, you should be making some of these loose, aggressive bets on the later streets even against players who don’t play as we have just described. That is, if you are against someone who will raise only with a reasonable raising hand and who requires a legitimate calling hand to keep playing, you should fire away. This is especially true if his board looks ragged.

Earlier in the text we gave guidelines on how to play against a late position raiser when the raiser is first in, and you act after him. (See “Part Three: Miscellaneous Concepts”Defending Against the Possible Ante Steal” on page 101.) This should be your starting guideline against most players except, as we have already pointed out, since the initial pot is smaller, you won’t need to defend quite as much.

However, if you find yourself against players who are playing fancy, that is loose and aggressive, you’ve got to throw in raises with hands that are well below those that you would normally raise with. In some cases, below those that you would even call with. There is simply no way to go into all of the details, and all of the types of situations that could come up. But if you just keep this one thing in mind and use your judgment, experience and your knowledge of poker concepts, you will be well on your way to playing properly.