To become a good player, one must:
- Learn the poker hands thoroughly.
- Learn poker strategy, and
the relative values of the hands-r-what sort of
hand may be expected to win the pot.
- Learn how many cards it is best to draw to the various
- Leam the odds against winning with any particular hand,
and how to figure the odds offered “by the pot.”
- Observe the other players in the game, to learn their
habits and to read their probable strength or weakness from
their actions and mannerisms; and at the same time avoid
giveaway mannerisms of one’s own.
Poker Strategy relates to the relative values of the hands depend on how many players are in the game (or how many are in the pot, for if there are seven players in the game but two have dropped, the circumstances are precisely the same as if there Were five in the game and none had dropped). The value of the hand depends also upon what betting there has been: A pair of aces may be an excellent holding when all the other players have checked, but is not worth much if two or three players have already raised, for their iraises advertise their holding of strong hands.
In general, one should appraise one’s hand as follows in a seven player game:
When one is dealtt a straight or any better hand, one will almost always win the pot and it will pay one to bet or raise even if two other players Jiave previously raised.
When one is dealt three of a kind, one will usually win the pot, and one snould raise even if another player has previously raised; but one should only call if two players have previously raised.
When one is dealt two pairs, it is about 2 to 1 that one has the best hand before the draw; but at the same time it is 11 to 1 that one will not improve one’s hand in the draw. Especially, if the higher of one’s two pairs is anything less than queens, one is in danger of losing the pot to another player who will draw three cards to a pair, and improve. For this reason, it is wise for a player with two pairs to raise immediately. The raise usually drives out some players who might otherwise stay and improve their hands.
When one is dealt a pair of aces, it is odds-on that no other player has as good a hand. A player holding aces or any better hand should open the pot in any position and should stay in even if the pot has been raised.
A pair of kings has an even chance of being the best hand when only five or six players remain; a pair of queens, when only four players remain. Holding one of these hands, one should open the pot against the stated number of players but should usually drop if the pot is raised. The last three players at me table, after the first four have checked, may safely open the pot on a pair of jacks.
When another player has opened the pot, it must be remembered that he has at least jacks and probably has an even better hand. It is seldom wise to stay in without a pair of queens or better, except (a) when four or five players have stayed in and there is no danger that anyone will raise; or (b) when you have a straight or flush possibility and the pot is large enough to warrant drawing to it.
A four-flush offers nine chances in forty-seven to make a flush. This means that the odds are more than 4 to 1 against you when you draw one card to a four-flush. If there is at least four times as much money in the pot as you have to put in, such a hand is worth playing. If there is anything less in the pot, the hand should be dropped. Likewise with a double- ended straight (any four cards in sequence, except A-K-Q-J or 4-3-2-A): The odds are 5 to 1 against filling it, and the pot must offer at least that much to make playing worthwhile, A combination such as A-K-Q-J, 4-3-2-A, or 7-6-4-3 (“inside” straight) is almost never worth playing; the odds are 11 to 1 against filling it.
DRAW POKER. When drawing to a pair, discard three cards and hold only the pair. To keep an ace or other high card as a “kicker” seriously decreases the chances of improving. For example, holding it would be unwise to hold the two nines and the ace and draw only two cards. This maneuver has little value as a bluff—”it is unlikely to make anyone think you hold three of a kind, unless you follow through on the bluff all the way by raising heavily before the draw and betting after the draw, and this is a losing game in the long run.
Likewise, when you hold three of a kind it is best in most cases to throw away both the odd cards and draw two. The only exception is when you have raised before the draw and it seems that another player has two high pairs. If you draw two cards, he may refuse to caH a bet. If you hold either of your odd cards and draw only one, he may call.
A player who has opened with a hand like this:
or with a pair and a four Flush, like this
is often tempted to “split his openers” and draw one card to his straight or flush possibility. However, unless there is enough in the pot to offer 4-to-1 or 5-to-1 odds respectively, it is usually better to draw to the pair. The only exception is when the opener has a four-cardstraight fiush possibility, in which case it is advantageous to split the openers and draw one card.The odds are only 2 to 1 against improving if the straight flush is open at both ends, and 3 to 1 if it is open at only one end.
STUD POKER. Since there is no draw to the original five cards, the average winning hand is lower than in Draw Poker. The player decides on his action after seeing all but one card in every other hand, and is in a better position to judge whether or not to play, or to raise.
Usually a player shoiitd drop out when his cards, including his hole card, are beaten by the showing cards of any other player. If anofitier player shows a pair, one should not stay in without a higher pair.
With a concealed pair (a pair which includes the hole card), raise immediately. With an open pair, bet the limit immediately. (In both cases, assuming that no other player shows a higher pair.)
It is seldom wise to bet against a player whose hole card may give him ahandi you cannot possibly beat.
DEUCES WILD). This is a much maligned game. Most people think of “deuces wild” as the afternoon diversion of sflly women who do not even know the rank of the poker hands. Actually, Deuces Wild is at least a& scientific a game as regular Draw Poker.
The considerations in the two games are about the same except that two pairs are almost valueless in Deuces Wild. A straight will win more often than not, but is not worth more than one raise.
It is usually advisable to open on any hand containing a deuce; one should also open on a pak of aces. Two low pairs should be opened only by the last two players in turn; after all others have cheeked; they should be thrown away or split if any other player opens. A sequence of three cards plus a deuce should be played even if the pot is small at the time.
Do not raise before the draw with less than three aces (including at least one deuce) or a pair of deuces.
If your hand contains two deuces, draw three cards to them unless you also have an ace, in which case hold the ace.