Sunday, July 13, 2014

Liar's Poker

Liar's Poker comes in a couple of different flavors. The first may be more comfortable as it is a tradition card game and the later is not. The game begins with each player starting with two quarters. Everyone is then dealt two cards down. The first player calls a poker hand. The next player has the option of either calling a hand which beats the previous hand or challenging the previous player's call. If a person challenges the hand, then everyone's cards are pooled to determine if the hand exists. If it does, the person who called the game loses one of his quarters and starts the next game, with only one card dealt to him. If it does not, the player who called the hand loses the quarter. After a player has their second quarter taken away, the player is out. Deck is reshuffled after each round. Game ends and the pooled change is awarded when only one person has a quarter left.

Liar's poker is also a popular bar game that only requires a dollar bill to play. In the place of cards, the eight-digit serial number on the dollar bill (see below is blue) represents each "hand." The object is similar to the card version--to make the highest bid of a number that does not exceed the combined total held by all the players. The numbers are usually ranked in the following order: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 0 (10) and 1 (Ace). For example, if the first player bids three 4's, he is predicting there are at least three 4's among all the players, including himself. The next player can bid a higher number at that level (three 5's), any number at a higher level (four 2's) or challenge. The end of the game is reached when a player makes a bid that is challenged all around. If the bid is successful, he wins a dollar from each of the other players, but if the bid is unsuccessful, he loses a dollar to each of the other players.

Both games are fun diversions that combine statistical reasoning with bluffing. The barrier of entry is small in that the most you can lose is a matter of dollars and cents. However, for you high rollers, currency substitutions are always an option.

If you practice any other variations on Liars Poker let me know in the comments. This is one game that can easily vary in rules.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

The Min. Raise

There is one point in every tournament when every player should adjust their play. It is when the money is almost within grasp and the bubble boy (or girl) is about to be crowned. Most tighten up, some bet more freely, all have a number on their mind. The number of how many players are left.

On a micro-scale, we can deal with the easy numbers. My favorite games are single-table tournaments with the top three places paying out. (These are also known by the somewhat counter-intuitive name sit-n-goes. Once you “sit” you can’t “go” until the game is over.) The bubble here is fourth place. Out of the last ten games I’ve played I’ve been first, second, third or fourth--so the end-game strategy has been fresh on my mind. Be aware, this is on-line advice and my not apply in person.

Every time I reach the top four, everyone tightens up except for players with a significant chip lead. These players steal blinds with bets four or five times the big blind. I’ve found that when the blinds are high enough to significantly impact the smaller or mid stacks, that is overkill. The minimum raise is often enough to get the player to fold pre-flop. According to traditional advice, this is a weak play. I agree, it is weak, but if it works it works. I have been using this strategy over the last ten games and have been first or second most of them. In addition, when you do get a call, you are still seen as on the offensive for the hand. Most people will respect your post-flop bet assuming your table reputation is solid.

Disclaimer: The minimum raise has worked for me consistently, but only under specific circumstances. I've been min. raising (1)  online, (2) with four or less players at the table,  and (3) not in the big blind. I use the min. bet to steal the big blind, it is less likely to get anyone who has already called the big blind to fold. Also I've only tested this tactic with buy-ins between $10 and $30. Your mileage may very.