General concepts

Points of Play

Tournament Play

Fourth Street

When discussing the correct play in razz poker on fourth street, we should separate the possible situations into a variety of cases.

First of all, there is a situation where your opponent may not have started off with a good three-card hand, and situations where you didn’t start off with a good three-card hand. These will be dealt with later.

For now let us consider only those cases where you have started with a three-card hand and you assume your opponents have also. Let us for the time being only consider those cases where you are up against just one opponent.

Let us call the situation where both you and your opponent have caught a good card on fourth street of poker games, Case No.1. Case No.2 would be where you caught a good card and he caught a bad card. Case No. 3 woulkd be where you caught a bad card and he caught a good card. Finally, case No.4 would be where you both catch bad cards.

Let us discuss case No.4 first. When I say a bad card, I mean 10 or higher or a pair showing. The right play if you have caught a bad card and your opponent has also depends on a variety of factors.

If you have caught, for instance, a 10 and he has caught a king your hand is still a significant favorite and should usually be bet. If, however, you have caught a king and he has paired his door card you should almost certainly not bet because you are not even the favorite.

This is an important concept that is discussed at the theory of poker. The reason you would usually not bet when you catch a king and he has pairs is because you will, most likely, have to bet first from that point on.

This is especially bad down the river, as he has position on you. I would say in many cases it is not right to bet a queen into a pair or a queen into a king.

In each of these cases, you will probably be betting first if the hand does go all the way to the end and the slight mathematical edge that you have as far as making a better hand is more than compensated by his positional advantage.

In fact, you can take it to the point where if he bets his king into your pair you can profitably raise, because of your positional advantage; and if he checks you can certainly consider betting. 

Don’t go too far with this concept however. A jack against a pair is about an even situation. All in all, if you both catch bad cards, it usually is not worth a bet if you are low. If he is low and bets it is certainly worth the call!

There is one interesting exception, however. It has to do with a general principle of poker which is related to my Fundamental theorem of Poker. This principle is to try to get you opponent to make a mistake.

Sometimes certain situations will entice an opponent into making a mistake and you may be in a position to create this situation.  One such position could very well be fourth street in razz where you both caught bad cards. 

If you are against an opponent who will call on fifth  street with a three-card hand against your apparent four-card hand, but only if there is a bet on fourth-street, you have to bet on fourth street in this situation. 

This is so because of the fact that a man who calls with a three-card hand on fifth street against an apparent four-card hand is making a pretty big mistake.  In other words, if you have

and you thought he has something like

you should bet if this bet will now add enough money to the pot so that he will incorrectly think that he should play on fifth street if he catches a bad one and you catch a good one. 

Had you not bet on fourth poker street against this mythical player he would no longer think the pot was big enough to make this bad play. By betting on fourth street you know this player will now call on fifth street if it comes good to you and bad to him. 

Of course, even if you bet on fourth street, you are planning to fold if it comes good to him and bad to you, but your extra bet has set up a situation where he will now play incorrectly*.

(* Of course if your opponent is so incredibly bad that he will always call on fifth street even if there was no bet on fourth street then there is once again no reason to bet fourth street when you both catch bad.)


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