Friday, December 22, 2006

Hand Reading Practice - 5 Card Draw Style

Originally started playing a little 5 card Draw over on Stars as a simple bit of variation... however thinking it through this game has become a good exercise in hand reading. Been playing the Pot Limit version which has the happy medium of giving max information without the huge overbets of the No Limit game.

The information you get is this;

- Bet size before the draw
- Number of cards drawn
- Bet size after the draw

Not much, no community cards, no opportunity to semi-bluff a scare card turn etc. The thing is that when you combine this information with a players known tendancies from previous hands it is actually pretty easy to narrow their range significantly enough to make some $$$.

First thing I do is categorise each player at the table into these 3 traits, Tight vs Loose / Passive vs Aggressive / Tricky vs Straightforward.

At the extremes of each trait the players are giving away their money, someone who only ever raises trips or better will never be called by a worse hand (actually they will be called regularly - just not by me!) someone who raises any pair will be trapped for a big pot eventually. The very best opponents call raises pre draw with draws then bet only when they hit, spot one of these and he becomes your ATM.

The tricky but bad player is another good opponent to spot. Some people will call or limp pre draw and then discard 2. Now assuming that raising trips is a +ev play they are usually discarding their 2 lowest non-paired cards (ie keeping JJK and discarding 2), this narrows the chances of trips + by 1/3rd and can lead to making a second best 2 pair fairly easily.

The same players will often discard less than their opponents to represent a stronger hand... daft! imagine someone who calls pre draw with KK, sees 2 opponents discard 1 (so they may be on draws or have 2 small pair if no raises pre draw), they also discard 1 so as not to look weak, now their chances of improving to KKK have gone down by 66%.... I would rather discard 3 here, especially in position - assuming your opponents will only bet when they hit you can safely check behind if you do not improve and bet out when you do. Lose a small pot / win a big one.

Anyhow, here are a couple of things I look out for;

- Opponents who always bet small when they hit a monster
- Opponents who flat call raises then stand pat when opponent draws 2, more likely to be bluffing with 2 pair.
- Opponents who raise with any pair pre draw then bet out after draw, easy reraise with Kings-up or better... optional reraise with less depending on opponent.
- Opponents who will always bet their 2 small pairs on the end, once you have a read then calling / folding becomes easy.

Another aspect of this game comes from Sklansky's theory of poker. Optimal bluffing strategy and the stuff about not betting when you will only ever be called by a better hand... post is already long enough though!

Recommend this game for a bit of hand reading practice.

Cheers, Mark

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