Stud, Draw, Razz, Lowball and more — in one syllable

Let Me Teach You a Lot of Stud, Draw, Razz, Low Games, And a Lot More While I Use No Words That Are More Than Just One – Well, Wait, I Can’t Say That…

This article first appeared in Card Player magazine.

Official stats on the entry below:

Words = 1,848;

Syllables = 1,848.

Why does that matter? Read it.

Note that this entry was modified in 2014, because Ray LeRoux on Twitter pointed out correctly that it originally contained the two-syllable words “money” and “power.” Also, in 2022, author Michael Wiesenberg, in addition to identifying a typo, warned that “aren’t” can be (and often is) pronounced as two syllables. I changed it to “are not” and updated the word and syllable counts above accordingly.

What was that we just read? “Let me teach you…” and so on and so forth. Weird words, don’t you think? So, I guess you can’t wait to ask: Why do I sound like this on such a fine day? It’s hard to tell you why, in words.

A man that you might know once told me, “Mike, you use long words too much — not all the time, but now and then it gets to me.” So, I shot right back at him, “Hey, I’ll bet I could write a whole piece that speaks of all kinds of games — games like stud, draw, razz, low, and more — and you would not find a word that was more than one (you fill in the blank) long.”

He said he would bet half a grand that I could not or would not do that. Was he right or was he wrong? Who knows, but at least let’s try to prove him wrong.

Now is the time for us to start. I know what we’ll do. Let’s talk of some things that are apt to help you win day in and day out. All I ask is that you swear you will do what I say. I want you to win, and these things can help quite a bit.

Tip One (in short words).
Here comes my first tip. You must play your best game all the time. Now, my friends, that right there is the key that lets you join the club and win from now on. Of all the tips I’ve shared with you, that one is the best. But, I can hear you ask, “Why do I have to learn that? Give me a tip I don’t know. All of us know that and don’t need to be told? Right?” You would think so. But, my friends, the sad truth is that few of us play our best game all the time. We need to be told to do it.

What takes place is this. You get caught up in the course of the game. Now and then bad things take place. Let’s say you lose a huge pot. Fine. You’re a big boy. You can take it. But now there comes one more bad beat, and then one more still. Now what? I’ll tell you now what. Now your whole plan to play your best game is apt to break in two parts. One part will beg you to stay on track. The other part will plead for you to take a chance here and there that you had not planned to take. Part two will get its way.

To put it in plain words — you are now on tilt. Or, if you like this term more — you start to steam. I don’t care which you choose to call it — tilt or steam — it’s not a nice thing that now eats at your stack of chips. “My God!” you think, “I’ve lost my mind! I mean it. This time I’ve lost it for sure!” Yes, you know you’re on tilt, but your arm seems to reach for those chips — first one bet and then the next — and you have not told your own arm to act that way. It’s clear you’re not in charge now. Your arm is in charge — and it won’t need you to mess with its task of choice — which is to bet, call, or raise with cards that don’t seem to fit such an act. The words pass and fold are not known to your arm, which you watch as it bets for you.

The war you must win now is the same mind war that all your foes wage, too. They, too, must learn to just play their best game all the time. They will wage that war and lose it. You just need to wage it and win. How much is this tip worth? I just can’t stress its worth as much as I would like. The fact is that, for most of us, this one thing is what will make us win or make us lose in the long run. So, search deep, deep into your hearts and minds, and ask if you can play your best game from this point on. If you say yes, play. If you say no, quit. Tough words, but that’s what you need to do. It’s up to you.

If you add up all that you lose when you’re on tilt, you’ll find that it is more than what you would need to turn a long term win into a long term loss.

If you play your best game all the time and they don’t, you’ll soon find that the main source of the chips that you’ve won comes from the times that they are on tilt and you are not. You see, they all go on tilt from time to time, but if you just don’t join in — if you don’t take your turn to go on tilt, if you pass it right back to them — your stacks will soon soar. Trust me on this.

Tip Two (in short words).
Here’s my next tip. Some of you will think it’s strange. In the long run, you will lose ground on your bluffs — for your whole life. Wait! How can that be? It can be and it is. Why? I’ll tell you why. Most of the folks you will play against this year or next year just plain call too much. Since they call your bets when you have true strength, you earn chips you would not earn if they called less of the time. But, they do worse than call more than they should when you hold strong hands. They call more than they should when you try to bluff, too.

Does this mean you can’t win with a bluff? Of course, it does not mean that. There are times when you can bluff and win, but you need to make sure the times are right. In fact, you don’t just need to find the right times, you need to find the right foes. There’s an art to the bluff, and most top pros are quite skilled in that art. By the way, what I just told you is not true for games that have no set size on what you can bet. It is true for games where the size of your bet is fixed, though.

Back to the point. Not just you, but some of the best pros, too — though they may not know it — lose chips in the long run through their bluffs. What I just said is a great truth, and I’ll say it once more. Most pros, too, lose chips for life if you count all their bluffs and add them up. Why? Once more, they get called too much. But don’t some pros win a lot on their bluffs? Yes, you’re right, they do. But some of those guys lose a lot on their bluffs in a strange way. For their bluffs to work, they need to seem tight to their foes. Since they seem so tight, they lose this way: They don’t earn the calls they would have earned if they just did not seem so tight. You can earn more through their calls than through your bluffs. How come? Your foes’ main fault is that they call too much. So, you should strike them where they’re weak.

Just so there’s no doubt, though, let me say this one more time. You can bluff now and then and make it pay off. But, most times you’ll earn more if you lure your foes into a call mode (which is where they want to be, by the way) and save bluffs for those rare times when they really make sense.

Tip Three (in short words).
Want one more tip? Here. When a man starts to pass, you should try to see if you still can win that call. How? Just barge in and try to break his train of thought. He will need to start to think all over again, and this time you might get called. This tip has proved its worth in gold to me.

As he starts to throw his cards away, you should spill your stacks of chips on the table or clear your throat or bounce in your chair or do some weird things you think up that will make your foe pause. Once you win that pause, you have won a brand new chance at the call that you seek.

I don’t care if you win that call or don’t win that call, it’s clear that it does not cost you one red cent to try. And when it works, that’s a whole bet that you can add to your stack. It’s real cash, and you can spend it. So, you should work hard to earn it. It’s worth a try.

Tip Four (in short words).
And here’s one last tip for luck. This goes with the third tip that we just got done with. Any move you make will tempt a foe to call. Let me tell you why. First we must ask, “Who are these guys?” Well, most of these guys (and gals, too) — your foes — are those who have come for the thrill of the game. They did not come to throw hands at the muck, one hand and then the next, for the whole night.

You must grasp that truth of your foes: Most of them want to call. That’s what they came for. So, deep in their souls is this urge to play pots and to call bets. I don’t care if it’s some low stakes game like razz, draw, stud or what have you, these foes of yours want to call. They want to call real bad. Don’t ever let that truth out of your head. Once more: They want to call you. Got it?

Good, so what makes your foes think that they should call right now? Any darn thing you can think of might make them feel that they should call. They have the urge, you know. And one thing that seems to make them aim their chips at the pot for sure is if you move.

That’s right, just move. Shift your weight in your seat. Wow, you win a call. Thump the felt in front of you with your cards. Cool, you get called. Play with your stacks of chips. Yes, that works, too. Now you get it. The more you move, the more you get called. It’s the law.

So, that’s all I have to say for now. Hope these thoughts help your game. I’ll see you in two weeks. So, do I win the bet, Doyle?

How did it turn out? Well, I guess Doyle did not read this one, since I was not paid and did not ask. But, wait! This text had to be fixed, since it — at first — showed the two words in the note at the top. So, Doyle would have won. But not now.— MC

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Mike Caro

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Known as the “Mad Genius of Poker,” Mike Caro is generally regarded as today's foremost authority on poker strategy, psychology, and statistics. He is the founder of Mike Caro University of Poker, Gaming, and Life Strategy (MCU). See full bio → HERE.


6 thoughts on “Stud, Draw, Razz, Lowball and more — in one syllable”

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  1. UPDATE: April 11, 2020.

    I just reread the entire text for the first time in years and made a few changes. I added some one-syllable words for clarity. I changed one-syllable words in a few cases, such as “more” to “worse” in one instance. And IMPORTANTLY: I found a mistake! The word “often” (two syllables) was included! Gone now.

  2. Was the bet, nothing with more then one syllable? Just curious if Im correct, and if you won? P.S. I was thinking today, while playing Omaha Hi/lo, I was dealt AAA8 and folded preflop. I thought to myself, wow, whats the chances of being dealt that, then realized also, I had no suited A. Then I thought to myself, whats the chances of being dealt 4 cards, three of them A’s, and not have a 2 card flush draw?

    1. Yes, and I just added the word and syllable counts to the beginning of this entry. There are 1,789 words and 1,789 syllables, assuming contractions that are spoken as one syllable officially count as such. Thanks for bringing this obscure Poker1 piece to my attention. I think I’ll post it to Twitter and Facebook today. Actually, there are now 1,812 words and 1,812 syllables, because I added a final sentence about the outcome, in answer to your question.

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