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Capture the Flag: Chip Jett

by Brian Pempus |  Published: Jul 11, 2012

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Chip JettLas Vegas resident Chip Jett is a fixture in fixed-limit cash games around town. The veteran poker pro has been making a living on the felt for years.

He’s had success on the tournament circuit as well. He’s accumulated more than $2 million in earnings, winning 11 tournaments since 2000.

Card Player caught up with Jett during a break in play at the 2012 World Series of Poker.

Brian Pempus: OK, so, stud high-low, can you give some beginner advice?

Chip Jett: The best advice in that game is to try and make a low and fall into a high, rather than starting with high cards where you are going for half the pot. This way you can get yourself into freeroll situations. It’s easier to make a high once you’ve already made a low. There are certain situations when playing big pairs can be profitable, but for a beginner in that game it is better not to play those types of hands. As you get better, you can work high hands into it. You can beat most stud high-low games by just staying low.

BP: What about Omaha high-low?

CJ: My advice to beginners in this game is to play as tight as you can, and then play twice that tight. Most people in the lower stakes have hand ranges that are just way too wide. You can tighten up and take advantage in this game.

BP: How important is position in Omaha high-low?

CJ: Not as much as in hold’em, because a lot of the betting and calling is pretty standard. Of course, you always want position because more information is going to help you. The spots in Omaha hi-low where it matters a lot is when it gets checked to you and everyone missed, and you missed as well, and you can pick up the pot there. It’s not like no-limit though, where position is just paramount. Bluffing is not a big part of Omaha high-low, but the only way to do it is to have position.

BP: What are the ideal starting hands for beginners in Omaha high-low?

CJ: A good standard rule is that if your hand doesn’t have an ace in it, it’s basically unplayable. Of course, there are some exceptions. In Omaha high-low, it’s also better to go low and back into a flush or straight or something. To make a high is bonus. Any hands with A-2 or A-3, any four cards under 7, with an ace, are usually playable. If your ace is suited, or you have two aces with another low card, those are premium hands. Try to avoid going after second-nut hands, like king-high or queen-high flushes. You can get in spots against a made low and they are freerolling you on the high. That’s how beginners get in a lot of trouble. Also, a lot of beginners will make the mistake of really pushing a pot when they just have the nut low and nothing else, in a multiway hand. You end up getting three-quartered a lot, which is an excellent way to lose your chips.

BP: Razz starting hands.

CJ: It’s probably the easiest game to explain to someone – just three cards under 7, non-repeating.

BP: Going back to Omaha high-low. Can you talk about the importance of building a pot when you have a massive drawing hand, but haven’t made anything yet?

CJ: It depends on how many players you’re against and how good your draw is, but sometimes you can be a favorite over a made hand in that game just because of all the combinations. When someone flops a set in hold’em you’re never going to be a favorite over them, but in Omaha, with all the wraps and flush draws, you can be a favorite with nothing. In cash games you always want to push those opportunities, but in tournaments with a limited amount of chips, you can’t play it quite as aggressively as you do in cash games.

BP: Just generally speaking, if you are playing a mixed game and there’s something in there that you’re not quite as good at, what do you do to compensate?

CJ: If you are playing H.O.R.S.E and you are strong in four but weak in one, then you can talk a walk, use the restroom. They frown upon skipping a game entirely, but there are things you can do to avoid playing it too much. A good general rule of thumb would just be to tighten up a lot in that game. A lot of people struggle with the Omaha high-low, and the best advice for them would be to play super tight. Most places they won’t allow you to flat sit out a game. I think it varies from casino to casino. As a rule, someone would have to be a real fish in all the games to allow them to sit out for their worst games.

BP: What is your best game in the mix?

CJ: Stud high-low or stud. I used to think it was stud high-low, but now I’m starting to think it’s stud. I think I play stud high-low better, but my results are indicating otherwise. I grew up playing stud. When I started working in a casino as a prop player all the games were stud. It was low-limit stud, so I got very proficient at protecting my money. As a prop you have to play in terrible games. I was playing $1-$3 stud at the time, and if you can break even in that game you can pretty much beat any stud game in the country.

BP: So during non-World Series of Poker time you are pretty much playing full-time cash?

CJ: Yeah, there are a couple games around town. I found a stud high-low game I play, and the mixed games. There’s very few H.O.R.S.E games around town, all of the mixed games have the draw games included. Unless you get people in the game who are straight up beginners, the triple draw games add a lot of variance to the game. I really prefer to find a stud or Omaha game where I can grind it out instead of enduring the big swings. Playing against the same people every day in the draw games, some days you lose 100 bets, and some days you win 100 bets. The variance is enough to drive you crazy. They are very popular, which is good because it keeps the mixed game popular.

BP: Are people getting better at stud these days?

CJ: It’s not so much that people are getting better, it’s just that the game is dying out. Ten years ago there were a lot of stud games in Las Vegas, and now not so much. You have to find people from the East Coast who are starting these stud games. ♠