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THE “STUFF” OF WINNING POKER

THIRD STREET STRATEGY

FOURTH STREET STRATEGY

FIFTH STREET STRATEGY

SIXTH STREET STRATEGY

SEVENTH STREET STRATEGY

RULE FOR WINNING POKER

MORE RULES FOR WINNING POKER

TOURNAMENT TACTICS

CAN MAKE A LIVING PLAYING LOW TO MEDIUM-LIMIT POKER?

THE FINAL WORD

 

THIRD STREET
ONE-GAP STRAIGHTS

Considering that the focus of this course in the area of straight is rather narrow, the focus in the area of one-gap straights must also be narrow. As the term implies, one-gap straights are straight draws that have a card missing from the sequence.

With the first of our recommended straights (the 9-10-J), 9-10-Q would be a one-gap straight, since the jack is missing.  9-J-Q would be another, with the 10 missing.  In the other recommended straight draw from this course (the 10-J-Q), 10-J-K or 10 or 10-Q-K would be the one-gap straights.

So now the question is, “Do you want to play any of these hands?” Yes, you do, but under the right circumstances.  And there aren’t many of those circumstances.

We’ve talked about playing hands with live cards, seven card stud being a game of live cards.

That continues to hold true, but even more so with one-gap straights. Your “gap” card must be absolutely live.  And the “rule of two points” which we discussed earlier also applies. If you do fill the gap in your one-gap straight try, you’ll want to have live primary and secondary cards available to draw.

You also want at least one overcard-a card in your one-gap hand that is higher than any card showing by a player who is in the pot. Raising with a one-gap straight usually is done only as an ante steal. Calling a raise requires that you have an overcard to the raiser ’s probable pair, and two suited cards.

Those two suited cards will make it considerable easier to make a flush if your poker hand develops in that direction.  And if it does, you’d like to have several players in the pot to build pot odds.  However, if your hand develops in the pair area, you’d like to have few players.

Play accordingly-passively in the first instance, aggressively in the second. Having said all this, I’ll now add that you won’t be giving up much if you decide not to play one-gap straights.

THIRD STREET
OVERCARDS

If the only value to your hand is in its overcards, you are starting weak but can become strong on fourth street by pairing one of your overcards.  But it’s usually profitable to play such a hand only in late position at these limits.  You’ll see why in a moment.

First, some numbers: 3-2 and 2-1. These numbers are an easy method I give my students to remember overcard play.  3-2 means that if you have three overcards to the board (three cards higher than any of the other players’ upcards), you can call against a maximum of two players who have limped in, not counting the low-card forced bet.  2-1 means  that if you have two overcards to the board, you can call against only one player who has limped in, again not counting the card game.

Now we can see why calling with overcards is a late-position play: In early position, we don’t yet know how many players will be in the pot. And did I mention live cards?  If that’s not one of your major concerns in seven card stud by this just a hopeless dolt intent upon giving away your vast fortune so that your kids won’t get their hands on it.

Is it worth calling a raise with this type of hand? Depends. It always seems to “depend.” What hand do you suspect the raiser is holding? If the raise comes from a player with a medium doorcard, and if you know he raises with such hands (you have knowledge about your opponent), you can call with two overcards and even consider reraising with three overcards.

The reraise will probably assure you of playing the hand against only the medium pair.  That would be best. What about being the initial raiser? Again, “depends.” Will the raise here in late position turn out to be a successful ante steal?  That would be good-you’d rather win a small pot than lose a big pot.

Your next best outcome would be to playheads-up against a small or medium pair or, better yet, a drawing hand.

Now what about that K-Q-J and A-K-Q we left dangling in the three straight strategy.  I put them over here because I’m not too thrilled about playing them as straights.  My main interest in them is their overcard value.  What I find not so thrilling is catching an ace to my K-Q-J or a jack or to my A-K-Q.

Then I’d have a straight draw with only one end open-might as well be drawing to an inside straight.  Of course, if I catch a ten to K-Q-J, I now have a legitimate straight draw with both ends open, and I’ll play it as such. My main interest is in pairing one of those high poker cards and continuing on in a hunt for two big pair or a big set of trips.

If I back into a straight, that’s a bonus, to my way of thinking. A two-flush among your overcards gives the hand added value, but only if your suit cards are totally live.  Remember, you are holding only two-fifths of a flush at the start instead of three-fifths, which leaves you a longer road in getting to the flush.

It doesn’t seem like hands with only overcard value would be worth playing. But if you play them right, they should win you a couple of extra bets each session.

They are among those hands that offer a good money-making potential often found in low-limit games.  When your opponents are not doing much third-street raising, just call a lot in late position when you know that you won’t be raised.  You can call with many hands that you otherwise might not play, because it’s sure to be cheap to get in.  Take a shot at getting a perfect card on fourth street.

THIRD STREET
ANTE STEALING

I can’t let you leave third street before I talk about ante stealing.  The low-limit games, in the $1-$4 range, usually don’t have an ante.  Usually, you won’t encounter an ante until you get to about the $3-$6 limit and above.  But when you play in a game with an ante, you must think about ante-stealing.

What is ante stealing and why do you want to do it?  (One question at a time please.) First, ante stealing is any time you raise on third street trying to win the antes and low-card bet without opposition, while you do not necessarily hold a hand of value.  You are trying to “steal” the antes.

As to why- if done correctly, it can show a profit.  If not done at all, if you don’t replace the antes you put in on every hand, they will drain you.  Figure a $10-$20 game with a one-dollar ante.  Figure thirty to forty hands per hour.  It’s not too difficult then to figure that if your were to just sit and not play a hand, your stack would deplete by $30 to $40 every hour.

That’s a lot to overcome.  You overcome it by ante stealing. An added benefit of ante stealing is that you will be raising more often at third street, giving you the image of being a fast, aggressive player, while in reality you will be playing “selectively aggressive” poker.

Now that we know what and why, let’s look at how.  Ante stealing is almost always done from a late position, after all or most other players have acted.  If everyone has folded when the action gets to you, and if there is only the forced-bet low card in the pot, it would be extremely foolish of you to fold and surrender all that money laying out there to what is probably a nothing hand.

So you raise.  He folds.  You profit.  So far, so good. If there are still one or two players to act after you and everyone has folded when the action gets to you, raise if your upcard is higher that either of theirs.  If not, fold if you have no value. If you raise as an ante steal holding a hand of no real value and then someone reraises, give it up. Don’t be throwing good money after bad.

Yes, you’ll be bluffed a time or two, but in the long run you will save money. When another player has already voluntarily entered the pot before the action gets to you, forget about stealing the antes.  He came in with something and if you don’t also have “something,” fold and wait a moment for the next hand.

Steal as many antes as you can as often as you can.

When you eventually get “caught,” back off for a while.  Remember, when you are stealing antes you are always stealing from the same player to your left.  He won’t like that and will eventually play back at you with a raise of his own just to put a stop to it.  You must do the same thing if and when the player to your right wants to continually steal your antes.

Most players will eventually play back at you.  But I once had a guy on my left in a $10-$20 game a few years ago that I would like to have there in every poker game I ever play.  He never played back at me during a five-hour session.  I stole about a dozen antes from him: at $10 a pop – $8 in antes and $2 of low-card money $120.  That’s a lot of his antes that I could reinvest in antes of my own.

Every game will be different as to how much ante-stealing you can get away with.  It depends on the aggressiveness of your opponents.  Pay attention so that you aren’t putting your foot into any traps.  If they are tight non-callers, steal a lot.  If they are loose aggressive types who play back, steal less.  But steal you must or watch your stacks deplete a dollar at a time.

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