Note: Not at the old Poker1 site. A version of this entry was first published in Card Player.
Playing rough hands against limpers in online no-limit single-draw deuce-to-seven lowball
The previous two installments provided strategy for low-stakes online no-limit single-draw deuce-to-seven lowball. The play of one typical hand, a rough 10, in five different situations follows.
This seven-handed game has two blinds, 25 and 50 cents. The first three players fold. The next player opens for the minimum and two players call. You are the big blind and have 10♠ 9♠ 8♠ 5♥ 2♣. (This hand is known as a rough 10, because the cards that top the hand are high. A smooth 10 would be a 10-8 or better.)You raise $1.50. All three players call. You stand pat. The opener draws two cards. The next player stands pat and the next player draws one card. You check. The opener checks, as do the pat hand and the one-card draw. You show down and win the pot. You look at the hand history to see what the other pat hand had. J♣ 9♥ 8♣ 4♠ 2♠. Why didn’t he draw? Likely because he thought you were raising on a worse jack than his and he hoped he would win in a showdown. Why didn’t he bet? Because he didn’t know what you had and figured that if you called it would be with a better hand than his. Few players would consider bluffing here.
Grit your teeth
Same game, same situation, except after the draw, when you check and the opener checks, the pat hand bets $1 and the next player folds. You must grit your teeth and call. The bet is small enough that you “have to keep him honest.” The player cannot have a great hand or he would have either raised the opener before the draw, or, having slow-played originally, raised your raise. Having done neither, the bet is suspect. He could think he’s value-betting a slightly better hand than yours. Some players perversely bet the J-9 of the previous paragraph in this situation. Most of the time, however, he’ll have a slightly better 10 and is just a nit who is afraid to raise before the draw with a hand like 10-8-7 or even a rough 9, but now feels constrained to bet after you have passed. He could even be bluffing. Most of the time in a situation like this someone who played his hand so weakly before the draw does not bet after the draw.
Same game, same hand, only this time there have been five instead of three limpers. (Yes, you’ll see that many players frequently in a game of this size.) Rather than raise $1.50, raise $4. You don’t want any callers, but if you get them, you want them to pay for the privilege of trying to outdraw your hand. Remember that your hand has the best of it against any one-card draw. You do not have the best of it against a field of five callers, however; you’ll typically win somewhere around 30-40 percent of the confrontations. That is good expected value (EV), somewhat offset by having to call the bet after the draw. No matter how many callers you get – and you hope it’s just one or two and that they’re taking two cards – you check after the draw and call based on what you know about your opponents. Realize that in a small game like this players don’t often try to bluff a pat hand.
Same game, same situation as the second paragraph on the bring-in bet, except that after you raise $1.50, the original under-the-gun limper or the first caller now reraises $3. This one is easy. Fold. The player was slow-playing and has a good pat hand. You would continue in this pot only if two things were true – and you would know these from observation or from your previous notes about the player. One, the player never limps with a pat hand, and, two, the player sometimes does limp and then reraise with a good draw.
If you are certain about both of those and your opponent does not have too big a stack, reraise him all in (or yourself all in if your stack is under $20 and his is larger). You have to be certain your opponent will draw – and you better be certain! – and then you will have the best of it by better than 3-to-2 if he calls and not have to worry about a bet after the draw. Most of the time you’ll win the pot uncontested, because the reraiser will not call the all-in bet. If the reraiser is at all tricky and might have slow-played a good pat hand or might be drawing, you’re better off releasing your hand. You don’t want to be in the situation of putting in a lot of chips on a rough hand and giving your opponent an easy call with a very good pat hand. Even if he is subject to be drawing 80 percent of the time, the one time out of five that you’re wrong will cost you more than the money you win in the other four. He’s likely to give up if he’s drawing when you reraise, and so you either win a little or lose a lot.
Same game, same situation as the previous paragraph, except that the reraise is $1.50. This is a very annoying situation that comes up too frequently. It could be a slow-played pat hand and it could be a good draw. The trouble is that the reraise is small enough to tempt you back in. Your notes help here. If the player typically plays a one-card draw this way, then reraise, but not all in. About $5 is right. If he is tricky, you’re better off giving up. If the player usually reraises here with a draw but is pat sometimes, then call and check after the draw whether he draws or not. Of course, if he is pat, you’re dead. If he draws, whether you call his bet after you check depends on what you know of the player. If he bluffs sometimes in this spot, you should probably call. If he has never been caught bluffing, of course just fold, because he won’t bet unless he has caught a card that beats your hand.
Next time: Hands (last in four-part series).