Monday, December 7, 2009

Catching Bad versus Catching Good on Fourth Street

Fourth Street is a point in the hand when it is easy to get out before becoming too committed to the pot. Many players who catch a bad card on Fourth Street will make quick exits, and many times, a raise will hasten the exit of marginal hands. Before betting or raising into multi-way pots, it is important to think ahead about how potential raises will effect the action.

Consider these scenarios:

High-pair with no low:

You (J, K) K, 10
Alice (X, X) 2, 3
Bob (X, X) 4, 8

You have a big pair with no hope of a low-hand, against two players who have each caught low cards. However, neither Alice nor Bob has a low-hand yet, and your pair would stand a better chance of scooping in heads-up play. You should lead with a bet. If Alice has four little cards, she will raise to force Bob, her other low-hand competitor, off the hand. Then you can re-raise Alice, to make her pay to draw out on you for the low-pot. If you instead check to the lows in this hand, Alice will bet, Bob will call, and you won’t have much better to do but call and hope for the best. A check-raise after Alice bets and Bob calls, will probably not force anyone off the hand. Bob will stay at that point, even if Alice raises, because he is into the hand too deep.

A low-draw:

You (4, 5) 6, A
Alice (X, X) K, 9
Bob (X, X) Q, 10

You have caught a decent card, although, it does not connect with your initial three and that lessens the chance of scooping with a low straight. The Ace does act first on this board. It would be tempting to bet, but then Alice might raise Bob off the hand. If that happened, you would be drawing for just one-half the pot, heads-up against Alice. It would be better to check to Alice, let her bet and Bob call. Then you could call and keep both players in. Most likely, Alice and Bob each have a big pair and no chance for a low-hand. If you pickup a low hand later on, then you can drive the action make it difficult for both Bob and Alice.

Small pair:

You (4, 5) 4, J
Alice (X, X) K, Q
Bob (X, X) 6, 5

In this situation, you should check-fold your hand no matter how Alice or Bob play. Your hand is unlikely to make low, which means that all you really have is a pair of 4s for high against a probable pair of Kings. You will be playing catch up for one-half the pot, a terrible situation to be in. But, I’ve seen many players continue in the hand until the end with any kind of pair, a pattern that is sure to lose money over the long-run.

Second-best low:

Alice (X, X) K, Q
You (A, 3) 4, 8
Bob (X, X) 6, 5

If Alice leads with a bet in this situation, you should fold because of your position. You never want to be in the middle between the best high-hand and best low-hand because it will cost you four bets to see every card. If you call Alice, Bob will raise and Alice will re-raise. If you cold-call that two-bet raise, Bob will cap it. Your best hope after that is that Bob catches bad on 5th street and does not complete the low-hand, but you catch good and do. But, even if that happens—for example Bob gets a Jack while you get a 7—you are still in a tough spot because you have the worse possible low-hand—an 8-7—while Bob has a draw to a better low. If you both catch good cards—for example both you and Bob get 7s—you are in a terrible position on Fifth Street because you are not sure where your low-hand ranks and you have almost no chance of scooping. It is best to get out cheaply on Fourth Street before being faced with all these difficult and expensive decisions.

Potential monster with a brick:

Alice (X, X) Q, 7
You (3d, 4d) 5d, Ks
Bob (X, X) 6, 5

Alice leads with a bet and you are faced with a situation similar to the previous one, in which a call could lead to capped action. The difference is that you’ve caught a bad card for one of the best three-card starting hands. Your hand could develop into a monster, which means that you do not want to be raised out of it. At the same time, the bad card means that you do not want to put a lot of money in the pot. One possible solution is for you to make the raise. That might cause both Alice and Bob to pause. They would have to consider the possibility that you have wired Kings and just completed trips. If Bob raised, Alice might leave the hand and you might even have the highest hand at that point. If Bob called and Alice called, you would make it to Fifth Street for the cost of two small bets, instead of four, and could decide what to do from there. You might even get free cards on Fifth Street if Alice and Bob don’t improve.

No comments:

Post a Comment