General concepts

Points of Play

Tournament Play

This last concept was not mentioned before and most readers will probably raise their eyebrow. “Shouldn’t you steal more in a short-handed game?” you are probably saying to yourself.

Well, this is the most misunderstood concept in poker and razz poker offers the best example of why it is.

To illustrate: Suppose you are in an eight-handed poker game, a king has brought it in, four people have folded, and you find yourself the third from the last low card.

In a $ 15 –$ 30 game you now have to decide whether you should risk $ 15 to win the $ 13 already in there when the two low cards and the initial high card throw their hands away.

However, let us compare this situation to a four-handed poker game where the high card has brought it in and you are next with a low card and there are two small cards behind you.

The situation is identical in all respects except one.  Whether four people have already folded is not a relevant factor. All that is relevant is that you are now left with two other small cards and the initial high cards that brought it in.

However, in the four-handed game, you are risking $ 15 to win $9; thus you should be less apt to steal the ante.

In other words, once people to your right have thrown their hands away, all that matters is how many low cards there are remaining that need to be stolen through.

Since you are getting a bigger price it is worth more to steal antes in a ring game with some people already folding than through the same number of remaining people in a shorter-handed game. This obvious fact is constantly overlooked, even by good players.

Those times that you are stealing antes are about the only times you will be playing without a good hand to start with.  When I say good hand, I usually mean a three-card eight or better.

Unless, of course, everybody has high cards showing where even a three-card ten, for instance, would have to be played for its own sake since it is the best hand.

Before we talk about how to play your normal starting hands, I want to mention two other times when you might consider playing a bad hand.

One time arises fairly frequently in the $ 30-$60 game.  Suppose the high card has brought it in for $ 10 in an eight-handed game, a low card has called, all other low cards have folded and you are the last low card and have, let’s say:

Even if you are quite sure that the initial caller had a pretty good hand, it may be correct to call simply in hopes of out-flopping him.

This would be doubly true if you know your opponent will throw his hand away if you catch a small one hand he catches a big one.

This is so because in a full $ 30-$60 game there is $60 in the pot when it is $ 10 to you. You are getting 6-to-1 odds that you will out-flop him and the odds are only about 4-to-1.

Thus, under those circumstances, it is correct to call with a two-card hand (as long as you have a low card showing). However, even here, the play is not that good if you think that he will call you on fourth poker street even if you do catch a good one and he catches a bad one.

If that is the case, if becomes much closer as to whether you should have originally called. Add this to the fact that the high card might have two small ones in the hole and might have a tendency to call if he catches a baby even though you do too and you have only a very close play.

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