forms of draw poker, this is one in which it is most important
to play sheer percentages. I mentioned before that you cannot
afford to sit back and wait for a killing or a cinch in this game,
because the overhead per round is so high. When you have a
better-than-even chance to win, you must be in there.
the blind-opening game was created to add to the amount of
action, the game should actually be played quite conservatively because
the average bet is so high. I am taking a typical game in which dealer
antes $1, next player opens blind for $1, next player raises blind to
$2, limit still $1 before the draw and $2 after. There are $4 in the
pot, but it costs at least $2 to come in (and usually the automatic
first bet is a raise to $3) so that the first man in is getting at most
2 to 1 for his money and usually only 4 to 3—little better than even
money. He has to have a pretty good hand to do this.
The first three
men aren't going to have merely a straight or flush possibility; they
are going to have very high pairs or better. Of course this
game is necessarily pass and out, because the pot has already been
opened, so you can always figure how many players after you are still
alive and dangerous. In counting the players yet to speak you must, of
course, count the blind opener and the blind raiser; but they were
forced to bet, and until they have taken voluntary action you do not
figure their hands to average any higher than those of any other
players who have not been
following tables will tell you what you should have to make the first call or raise (when you
are the first
player to speak, which means a
bet of $2 or $3), and to stay in
when someone else has bet.
opening; eight players; dealer (G) antes $1, A
opens for $1, B raises to $2.
|SHOULD CALL ($2)
A, of course, is in a special position
because he already has $1 in
there and is getting 4 to 1 from that pot if he merely calls.
of You Who Have
Come in (not
including opener or Blind Raiser)
| If Game Is Conservative
||If Game Is Liberal
|Two low pairs
||Two low pairs
The play of straights and flushes is very
important in this game. You
will note that player A (the blind opener), when everyone except the
blind raiser has dropped, should not draw to an open-end straight or to
a four-flush. The pot is offering only 4 to 1 and for such a draw you
should have 5 to 1 or better.
this game may tend otherwise to become dull, many groups seek
to enliven it by the introduction of two or more of the special
hands—dogs, cats or tigers, skeets, etc. In playing
such hands, you simply count the number of cards that will give you a
straight or better, subtract that number from 47, and know the odds
against you. Though such a hand will usually win if you fill, you
should still require substantially higher odds from the pot than the
odds against you.
is an example of figuring those odds: You are playing dogs (the
big dog being ace to nine with no pair) to beat a straight but lose to
a flush. Your hand is Q-J-1O-9. There are twelve cards that will give
you a straight or better—the four aces, any of which will give you a
big dog; the four kings and the four eights, any of which will give you
a straight. This is a twelve-timer; you subtract 12 from 47 and find
that the odds against you are 35 to 12, or almost exactly 3 to 1. If
the pot offers you 4 to 1 or better, you can afford to draw to such a
hand. Against one opponent this is a good draw at any odds because any
one of twelve other cards will pair you and any pair you make has a
chance to win. I do not advise raising on such a hand, or on nearly any
hand that must be improved to win, because every raise shortens the
odds offered by the pot.
when you are playing the special hands, the inside straight
comes into its own—the only time in the game of poker in which it does.
For example, if you are playing both dogs and tigers, K-J-10-9 gives
you the same twelve opportunities as does K-Q-J-10. Except when these
special hands are played, there is almost no conceivable case in poker
in which it is wise to draw to an inside straight.
the most frequent and therefore one of the most important
situations in a blind-opening game concerns the play of player B (the
blind raiser) when one other player has raised and everyone else has
dropped. There were $4 in the pot origi¬nally; the raiser put in $3,
making $7; and player B can stay in for $1, getting 7 to 1 for his
money. Attracted by such odds, most players stay on almost anything. In
fact, even in fairly good games it is not unusual to see a player toss
in his dollar and draw five cards.
will note that the odds offered by the pot, 7 to 1, justify drawing
one card to a four-flush or an open-ended straight, where the odds are
4 or 5 to 1 against filling; they are still against drawing to an
inside straight, where the odds are 11 to 1 against filling; they
justify drawing four cards to an ace. Drawing four to an ace is very
slightly better than drawing three to an A-K of different suits; about
the same as drawing three cards to A-K of the same suit; and considerably
better than drawing two cards
to a three-card flush possibility, a three-card open-ended straight
possibility, or even a three-card straight possibility.
general, even the 7 to 1 odds justify drawing only when you have an
ace; or a K-Q of the same suit (to take advantage of certain freak
draws); or three cards in sequence no lower than 10-9-8 (so that if you
pair one of your cards you will still have a fair chance to win against
an unimproved hand); or three cards of the same suit of which at least
two cards are ten or higher. In the long run, very little will be lost
if you do not even pay your dollar to draw to less than an ace or a low
pair, but of course it is fun to be in there drawing.