Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Spoiler

It's been a while, but I've got another poker variant for you. It's called the Spoiler. I didn't dream this one up, so you might actually like it.

The fun starts with five cards to each player and five community cards down. Each community card is turned up individually followed by a betting round. It is easy to screw-up with the three-card reveal, that's what we're used to.  After the third betting round, players must discard three cards from their hand. Players make the best hand from the five community cards and the two remaining of their own.

If you have read my previous game variant posts, you know why I both love and hate this game. It has the element of regret. Chances are you will curse yourself for choosing the wrong three cards to dump before seeing the last two community gems, but se la vi. That's poker.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Stolen from the desk of David Sasseman

Probability That None Of Your Opponents Match Their Hole Card On The Flop.
Number of Opponents VS. Flop Does Match Hole Card

1 0.65

2 0.40

3 0.25

4 0.15

5 0.10

6 0.05

Some conclusions:

(1) Against four to five foes it is certain someone has flopped something. That is why it is 'fit or acquit' / 'hit or miss' poker. (2) When playing against one to two players, it is +EV to the flop. Heads-up, two out of three times your opponent will miss the flop. Two out of three times you miss the flop. One in three time you will hit the flop. Four out of nine times you both miss the flop. Knowing this, when playing short handed hold'em (and if you know what range of hands your opponent will call you with), you can exploit almost all players.
(Flop is unpaired. Your hole cards are unpaired. You must consider your opponent will have a pocket pair sometime.)

For more info on David Sasseman click here.

Monday, June 16, 2008


Today's topic sprouts from the seed planted from my previously mentioned play at the Seneca Falls casino. My relatively weak bet post-flop was a bad play, I should have gone all-in. I know that, your feedback shows my readers know that, but I still don't think going all-in would have changed the outcome. The cash I had in play wasn't significant enough to make my opponent fold. The bad play was a function bad financing.

Coming to a cash game as a short stack is, as a rule, not a good idea. By doing this you are putting your fate a little less in your hands and more at the mercy of the poker gods. There is a law of poker that states that a player with infinite finances will always win the money off of a player with a finite bankroll given enough time. This stays true regardless of the players' skill levels, but if the cash impaired player is the more skilled, it will likely take more time. This is true because of dumb luck. The law can be scaled back on a kind of sliding scale. I started with less than half of my opponent's chip stack, which meant I required more luck to win, even if I was the better player.

As a side note, coming to the table on the cheap is also a strategy. Nearly all the on-line cash tables I frequent have a player or two who are playing short-stack with the intention of going all-in before the turn hits. When they double, triple, or quad up, they often cash out returning to their short stack status. I find these players are unsure how to play their hands past the flop, but as long as they have at least slightly above average luck  they make money. After all, you can't be bluffed off a hand once you're all-in. I imagine the profits last only for the short-run for these short-stackers, as most of it probably goes to the rake.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Back from the road

Missed me? Haven't posted the past week and change because I was out-of town visiting family. However, I did manage to fit in an overnight trip to Niagara Falls. We stayed at the Seneca Niagara Hotel & Casino and yes, I got around to playing cards and no, it didn't go well.

The casino itself was nice, but a little too slot machine heavy for my taste, as are all casinos. It is the largest casino on the New York side of the falls, but not on the Canadian side. I have visited the Canadian casino previously, but only when they didn't require a passport to cross the border. It looked like that little bit of U.S. legislation but a dent in Canada's border tourism.

Cutting to the chase, (and I use the term chase here for a reason) I sat down at a $1/$2 no-limit table. After a little folding while I got to know my table, I'm dealt pocket Queens. My table appeared tight and I was in the dealer position. Three people called the $2 blind. I raise it up to six times the blind, $12, over-betting the pot. The small blind folds, the big blind calls as does two of the three other callers. More callers than I would have liked, I half thought that bet was high enough to steal the blinds from how the table was going, still the flop brought a smile to my face.

The flop was all trash, 2 4 9 off suit. Everyone checks to me. The only thing to fear was someone slow playing trips, unlikely. I bet $20 and one person stays with me. To sum up, the turn is a 2, I go all-in with another $20 or so and he calls and win with trip 2s. His hand was K 2.

Granted, he could have also beaten me with a king, but at least if a king shown I would have spent more effort in reading my opponent and may have folded. If I played it wrong, it was my not going all-in on the flop. I accepted that the poker gods had forsaken me and the bad taste of someone calling that pre-flop raise with a K 2 off made me swear off poker for the night.

If you would have played the hand different let me know in the comments. We all can learn from our mistakes. My next post will be back to saying something of value, I promise.