Friday, March 03, 2006

Horse is a wonderful thing.

I’m won 4/6 of the $10+1 Horse tournaments I’ve entered now, with the two non-cashes being bubbles. I’m finding that I like the languid pace of the stud games as a nice sorbet to cleanse the palate of the all-in NLHE pushfests.

I suppose I have some strategies in each segment, but it really comes down to ABC poker. The reason I’m winning is that most people barely have the A part down for the Razz and Stud portions of the game. Since those are 60% of the games and it seems like the endgames fall into these sections, basic knowledge of stud fundamentals is enough to close the deal.

I’ve posted my nominal Razz concepts before, and it seems like nobody seems to realize that NOBODY CAN SEE THEIR HOLE CARDS! I’ve had to bring-in with a door Jack and had everyone fold their antes to me. Ummm, I have the worst card on board and you’re folding?! All of you?! Now I know I’m not a poker expert by any means, but isn’t there a concept called “bluffing”? At the tables I’ve played, the bring-in folds to the completer 75% of the time, and surrenders without a fight. I tag these players immediately and as the table dwindles down, I steal their bring-in’s mercilessly.

People seem to have trouble with the Stud hi/lo portion as well. Most of us have played regular 7-stud as part of our home games, many have played hi/lo, but not many have played with an 8-low qualifier. When me and my buddies played in high school and college, we had no such qualifier. We had to DECLARE our hands at the end; low, high, or scoop try. You could have three pairs and could take the low half of the pot if you were the only one to declare low. We got pretty good at betting and 2nd level thinking while we “represented” our hands by betting out with 235 on board with QJ in the hole. Everyone would bail out to our assumed low hand, we’d raise every possible round to build our share and take the low half uncontested. If anything, Stud-8 requires even less thought.

My biggest problem(s) come in the limit Hold’em portion. I’m playing way too few hands, partially because I’m conditioned in NLHE to be patient, but partially because I’m pretty sure I can outplay the rest of them in the stud games. Of course, this tactic can fail when I get all face cards in Razz or mediocre drawing hands in Stud, but I need to build my stake in each round. For now, I’m treading water in Hold’em, nut peddling in Omaha (which depends on the cards), building my chipstack in Razz, treading water in Stud, and nut peddling in Stud-8. If the cards are unkind in O-8 and Stud-8, I lose. If the cards are good, I’m rolling the table.

For example, yesterday in Stud-8 I had two pair (A8 up and down) after four cards and he’s showing 62. We cap it and both get face cards. We cap it again (remember, now it’s double bets) and he’s all-in. He has 43 down (pretty much what I expected) so he’s drawing for the low-half and possible gutshot. He pairs his deuce on 6th street and pairs his 6 on the river enabling me to bust him. He promptly berates my play saying that he had “tons” of draws to hit his low. Umm, no, he didn’t. He had two aces, four sevens, and two eights to hit his low, and four fives to scoop. So, with only two of us playing, he had four outs (the fives) to make a profit, and eight outs to BREAK EVEN. And that’s assuming I don’t get my boat. Not that he made a horrific play, just that he didn’t accept the reality that I had four of his outs already (and I knew it).

For now, I’ll probably play one HORSE SnG per night until the level of play catches up to me, like it did in NLHE and O-8. This should take a month or two… Then I’ll find some other game to pick off some low-hanging fruit.


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