Are you a one trick pony? Is Holdem all you have?
There is no denying the “great game” is where the money lies and no-one should stop trying to win the big pay days at championships and main events – even side events if that’s what tickles your pickle. But don’t you get bored folding for hours and looking down at only two cards? Have you realised yet that you don’t JUST gave to be a solid Holdem player because, and it is scientifically proven, learning, playing and solving the mixed array of games makes you a better Holdem player … (please don’t ask for the research paper – I’m just trying to make a point)
Let the journey begin …
For most, the first game to test the waters is Pot Limit Omaha – for those that do not know this game I will summarise:
- You will be dealt four cards in the initial deal
- You MUST use two and you can ONLY use two
- the flop, turn and river is dealt the same as No limit Holdem
- The betting rounds are also the same
- You must use two of your hole cards and three community/board cards to make your best 5 card poker hand
- You can only use two
- The betting is “pot limit” so you can only bet what is in the pot as a maximum – this doesn’t mean you simply need to “Pot” every hand but you do have the option.
If you haven’t tried any mixed games then this is where you should, and most probably will, start.
Read a book – get around it.
PLO8 … otherwise known as pot limit Omaha hi/lo … you are now playing your first “split pot” game where the best high hand and the best low hand (8 or better/lower) can chop the pot … now you are starting to really gamble!
High hand is simple – royal flush down to no pair/high card
The “low” is determined by the lowest 5 cards including two of yours and it may well be you are playing those same cards (or different) for the high in which case you “scoop” the pot … the best advice I can give you about the low hand is to start at your highest card and work backwards – a lot of new players assume because they have an Ace it’s the best low hand. Take these two hands:
Villain – Ace-2-6-7-8
Hero – 2-4-5-6-7
Remember- we are ONLY looking at the low side here – not hole cards and not the high hand.
I have told you already that you need to use two of your own cards and three from the board … our hero has a 7 low (7 being the highest low card) whereas our Villain is 8 low … our hero takes the low pot. The common board cards here are 2-6-7 and the villain plays A-8 for his low – I’m not saying it won’t be good sometimes – but you would want to have a strong high hand as well and this to be your backup – calling for the low with this hand is unprofitable over the short, medium and long term!
Read up or get on YouTube there is a lot of reference material available.
As you start to improve on these games you will work out the Holdem players keep coming across and while you now have a system and strategy – they don’t, and they stack you more times than you like because they can’t lay down Aces on ANY board and outdraw you by the river every time … that’s ok! It’s good for the game but not good for you today! Everyone has done it and they still do – regardless how long they have been in the game – people like to gamble and you want/need them to gamble on mediocre hands and those hands need to get there sometimes – just not all the time!
Now bring on the more interesting variations, such as:
- Seven card stud
- Seven card stud hi/lo
- Deuce to seven triple draw
- 5 card Omaha (Big O)
- Ace to five
These variations could be “Stud” games, “Draw” games or “Flop” games or even a combo of draw & flop!
Stud games, and I will focus on seven card stud games, are dealt as two down one up. Betting includes antes from each player – a “bring in” bet (for the player with the highest card (Razz) or the lowest card (stud hi and hi/lo). A “completion” (first full bet) and maximum raises (generally 3) i.e. one bet and up to three raises (fixed limit) which is called “cap” …
As the name suggests there are seven cards or, “streets” … there are five betting rounds, first on the initial three card deal and then each street … each player will be dealt up to seven cards with two down and the seventh card also down – the other four are exposed for all to see …
Draw games – in fixed limit they are generally triple draw so as to give additional betting rounds. For clarity you are dealt 4 or 5 cards – depends on the game you are playing and can discard any number of these up to three times before showdown. I will stick with some standard variants below and give you the details of how many cards and what hand(s) you are trying to make …
Badugi – 4 cards – “The Nuts” – Ace-2-3-4 – rainbow
2-7 – 5 cards – “The Nuts” – 2-3-4-5-7 … at least one off-suit – flushes are no good in this game and Ace is high …
Ace to 5 – 5 cards – “The Nuts” – Ace-2-3-4-5 – suits don’t matter in this game and Ace is low
Badeucey – Split pot game where the “high” is the best 2-7 hand I.e 2-3-4-5-7 – at least one offsuit… and the “low” is the best Badugi hand – because the Ace is high in 2-7 the “Nut” Badugi hand is 2-3-4-5 – rainbow
Are you still with me? I’m sure by now you can tell that dabbling in these games requires some research into strategy and fundamentals – it does – and it’s worth every hour you put into it.
Badacey – another split pot game between Ace to 5 and Badugi … the “Nut-Nut” hand being “Ace-2-3-4-5” with Ace to 4 (rainbow) for the best Badugi
The above variations, except 2-7, will probably come later – you won’t (and probably shouldn’t) start out with any of the above except 2-7 Triple draw which is in a standard 8 game rotation.
8 Game rotation
The big mix! Well in Australia anyway with Crown being about the only facility running these tournaments (without going underground). Her is your standard mix:
- 2-7 Triple draw
- Holdem (limit)
- Omaha 8 (hi/lo limit)
- Seven Card Stud (hi)
- Seven Card Stud (hi/lo)
- No Limit Holdem
- Pot Limit Omaha
Here is a list of the 13 game rotation for a $20/$40 limit game being played in Vegas as I write this story:
- 2-7 Dramaha
- Dramaha 49
- Super Razz Deucey
- 2-7 Triple Draw
- 5 card double board Omaha
- Ace to 5 Drawmaha
- Super Stud 8
- Dramaha high dugi
- Ace to 5 triple draw
- Super Razz Dugi
You won’t find the above games at any casino in Australia (maybe a few but not enough to say they are on par).
The games are, generally, 6 handed With 6 hands played of each. There are exceptions when a table is 7 handed for instance you will play 7 hands of each game HOWEVER in 2-7 you will deal out the player in the cut-off for the whole rotation as there are not enough cards. Some quick math 7*5 cards = 35 plus 3 burns (one each draw) that only leaves 14 cards for three draws
In Australia we are pretty much limited to:
- Pot limit Omaha
- 8 game mix 2-7, H.O.R.S.E, NLH & PLO
But that is all you need because a lot of the other games are a spin off or just come with slightly different variations. A lot of the following games you will find in Dealers choice rotation predominantly in Home Games:
- Super stud 8
- BIG O
- 2-7 Dramaha
- Stud hi/lo with 2-7 for the lo hand (not an 8 or better qualifier)
- Super almost anything!
Ok I’ll stop it there because you get the picture. Please don’t be too quick to dismiss the options of learning the first cut of mixed games because as you go deeper into the rabbit hole you will find a balance and zen to your game never before felt when you next sit at a Holdem tournament – you will start to scoff at the Holdem rounds in mixed game rotations and that’s when it hits you … “now I’m a mixed game player”
Just remember that 5 card Draw & 5/7 card Stud are the grand daddy’s of Poker – not No limit Holdem – that was late to the game and has a permanent place on every schedule but don’t be a one trick Pony – you owe it to the game, you owe it to yourself and you owe it to the part of your brain that craves to learn. Get around some mixed games.
If you need more inspiration then you may have seen Australia’s own Robbie Campbell win a bracelet in the 2-7 triple draw (Event #33) at the WSOP recently. Arguably one of the best mixed game players in Australia, currently sitting in the top ten for player of the year at the WSOP as he is having a very successful Vegas summer!
For those in Melbourne, Crown have a 4 weekly rotation each Tuesday night for $200 as follows:
Week one – PLO
Week two – H.O.R.S.E
Week three – PLO8
Week four – 8 Game
You will see me at most of the H.O.R.S.E and 8 Game mix so if this blog has tempted you to dabble in something new then come over, say hi and let me know how you are running!