Note: Not at the old Poker1 site. A version of this entry was first published in Card Player.
Drawing in online no-limit single-draw deuce-to-seven lowball
Drawing can be tricky in low-stakes online no-limit single-draw deuce-to-seven lowball. Last time you saw what hands to play from what position. The good pat hands are straightforward as are the clear one-card draws.
Some of the hands are two-way hands. In some situations you might break – that is, discard the top one or two cards from your hand – while in others you might choose to stand pat on the hand as it is. Such a hand is also called a breaking hand. For example, you would hardly ever break a hand like 9♦ 7♣ 6♥ 3♠ 2♦ and you would never break any pat 8 or better. While the hand J♣ 7♦ 4♥ 3♥ 2♣ is a formidable one-card draw, you would hardly ever break it against a two-card draw, particularly if the two-card draw does not have a lot of chips left. If the player does have a lot of chips and is subject to put a lot of them in to call with a rough hand, you probably have a higher expected value by drawing than by standing pat.
Can’t win stack
That is, if you stand pat on a jack, you can’t expect to win all of an opponent’s stack, even if that player is very loose. Say your opponent in a game with 25¢-50¢ blinds has $50 and you have him covered and you raise-open for $2 from the button with the smooth jack. Your opponent calls from the big blind to draw two cards. You know that if you beat a 9 or even a 10 for this player, you can get all his chips. Your choice is simple. Draw a card. If he passes and you catch a queen or jack, bet about half to the size of the pot. If you catch a 10 or better, bet about twice the pot. Of course, don’t be consistent about this, because an observant player will figure out what you have from the size of your bet. Sometimes bet less on a good hand. If your opponent typically check-raises with medium to good hands in a raised pot, it’s OK to bet about the size of the pot. If you make an 8 or better, you will reraise his check-raise all in and likely get called.
If you pair your top card, don’t give up. Bet about the size of the pot. Most of the time a two-card draw will not be able to call. If he calls with a pair, take note of that and don’t bet a pair again. If you draw with way the best of it, pair tops, bet, and get called, don’t get upset. The situation will come up again. If you pair smaller than your top card, just show it down. You’ll often still win, and you’ll be pleased for the times that your opponent passed a Q-J, with which he would have called your bet, or feel even better (because you didn’t lose that last bet) for the times he would have check-raised.
If you have Q-10 on the button and only one straightforward tight player calls your raise-open to draw one card, you can play the hand three ways. You can draw two cards, you can draw one, or you can stand pat. Likely your opponent is drawing better than to a 10, so you have the worst of it in all cases. However, your least worst option is to stand pat. Your chances of winning for the three choices are, depending on what your opponent is drawing to, approximately 36 percent, 42 percent, and 41 percent. If both blinds call, your best play is to draw two cards. You will give yourself the best chance to make some money and also convince the other players that you are loose. That is an image you wish to cultivate, since most players call too much with way the worst of it in this game and you want to encourage that. You want them to call your bets to draw two cards when you have a good pat hand.
When you stand pat against one tight opponent, you can be reasonably certain that he will not bet unless he has a good hand. He will pass many hands better than yours, but then you just check behind and have cost yourself only your initial bet. If your tight opponent stands pat, draw one. Even a tight opponent would most likely reraise with a 9 or better, so the most likely hand he has is a 10 and you are probably drawing live. If he passes after standing pat and you make a 10-9 or better, bet about half the pot.
Raise no matter what
What if he bets into you? If he bets moderately large (half the pot or more), probably fold. What you do if he bets small depends on what you know about the player. If you have seen him in this exact situation call with an unknown pat hand, bet about $1 into a one-card draw, and then fold for a medium-sized raise, you raise no matter what you make. However, if he calls when raised in this situation, then you can call if you make a 10-8 or 10-9 and raise with a 10-7. Otherwise, fold.
If you have a pat jack against a known good one-card draw, you should break the jack if you are drawing to a good hand and by doing so you cannot make a straight or flush. That is, against a solid player who calls a raise or reraise and draws one card, you would break J♥ 8♦ 4♥ 3♣ 2♣ but not J♦ 7♥ 5♦ 4♣ 3♠ or J♣ 7♦ 5♦ 4♦ 2♦, even though, paradoxically, you would be drawing to a better hand than the draw to the 8. Remember that a pat jack has the best of it against any one-card draw; you sometimes have a better chance both of winning the pot and of making some money, that is, better EV by breaking the jack.
Next time: Situations (part 3 of 4).