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Mixed-Game Strategies

by Matt Glantz |  Published: Mar 21, 2012

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Matt GlantzQuestion: Card Player columnist Michael Cappelletti once said that it’s okay to play non-nut draws in Omaha eight-or-better, as long as you are drawing for the entire pot. Is this more of a recommendation for when you can get it heads-up, or do these types of hands play better against multiple players?

Answer: It wouldn’t be fair to comment on Cappelletti’s thoughts without seeing the context in which it was written. But I can tell you that there are always situations that do present themselves where it is profitable to play non-nut draws. In general, you would want to stay away from non-nut draws when there are multiple players in the pot. When there are four or five players continuing the hand after a flop that contains two suited cards, you can safely assume that one of those players has a nut-flush draw. When it is heads-up after the flop you can rarely make that assumption with any certainty.

Question: There is a common situation that comes up during razz, when the player with the bring-in mucks his hand despite the fact that nobody has completed. The bring-in will throw away his cards, usually with a paint card up, before the fourth card is even dealt. In that situation, should the dealer still give him a face-up card and immediately muck it or should the dealer just move onto the next player? I’ve seen it done both ways.

The dealer should know to deal the dead hand an up card on 4th street. Even though we all know the cards are dealt out randomly, there are many players who would be upset to see the cards dealt out in a different sequence because of a player’s mistake or action.  
The only real benefit to this rule is to keep the peace at the table. Conversely, I cannot think of any downside.

Question: A friend of mine said that while playing triple draw, he’d rather start with two cards to a wheel that include a 7 and a deuce than three cards to a wheel like 5, 4 and 3. I understand that the 7 and the deuce are the most important cards, but isn’t having 3/5 of your hand set better than 2/5?

Answer: No, and this is a big no. It is much more important to have the right two cards rather than the wrong three cards. When you start with a 3-4-5, you must hit a deuce and a 7 exactly to make a seven. If you hit any combo of 2,6,7 with a 6 you will always make a straight which we know is the worst thing you can do in triple draw. When you start with 2-7 you can never make a straight and it is much easier to hit three cards of the group 3-4-5-6 without any combination restrictions. Hands such as 3-4-5, 4-5-6, 3-5-6, 3-4-6, are terrible starting hands in triple draw and will only lead to trouble. You should be looking for any three-card combos that have a deuce and a 7 in the holding. Remember the name of the game is 2-7 triple draw.

Question: I often see the high-stakes players flashing their non-important discards, like paint cards or aces, while playing triple draw or 2-7 no-limit. Is this a common practice or is it looked down upon?

Answer: This is not something I can recommend. Like you said, this is a very common occurrence in the high-stakes games and it keeps the game friendly but there are rare times where it will affect a player’s decision on a later street and then it becomes a little less friendly.

Question: What is your best game and why?

Answer: Poker.

I get asked this question all the time. I always answer with “poker.” I don’t feel I have the ability to be the single best player at any one game. There are too many great poker players around who have found their specialty and are just too good at a particular game. If I were to play a game in any one form of poker where I was playing against the best eight players in that particular discipline, I wouldn’t stand a chance.  
Conversely, if I were playing in a table full of top players in any mixed game, I would be very comfortable in knowing that I would be able to find spots in each of the games where certain opponents were making mistakes.

I am not fundamentally great at any one game, but I am capable in all the games and always make it a point to improve my deficiencies. I work more at fixing my leaks than trying to improve the areas where I am already sound.

What most players don’t realize in poker is that we should not attempt to be the best, so that we can beat the second best or the third best. We should try to improve our game in all areas so that we can profit off of our opponent’s mistakes and they can not profit from us in the same manner. The truth is the best players don’t make money from outplaying other great players. The best players make money from playing sound poker and taking advantage of spots in which others are making mistakes. ♠