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Stack Management in Deuce-To-Seven Triple Draw Part III – All-In Drawing

by Ben Yu |  Published: Mar 05, 2014


In my two previous articles, I addressed specific methods to reduce variance in deuce-to-seven triple draw tournaments with a middling stack. In this article, we find ourselves in even more desperate territory, as I’ll cover shortstack and all-in situations, particularly important because of the existence of drawing decisions.

Practice All-In Situations

In most forms of poker, there are only betting and folding decisions — when all-in, the playing stops and the sweating begins. Triple draw is unique because players still have to decide what to discard while stacks are at risk. When played as a cash game, this situation does not come up because players typically buy in for many big bets, but this plight is a cornerstone of tournament play.

Every player in the field will eventually either be all-in or eliminate another player. Thus, there are merits to getting experience in these scenarios, especially because of how optimal drawing changes once there is no more betting.

Typically, skilled deuce-to-seven triple draw players aspire to make eights and sevens early on in the hand, often pitching nines on their first and second draw. However, with no implied odds to be garnered, correct all-in strategy involves patting weaker hands such as nines. Doing this leads to more headaches, as an opponent can pat, leaving you with a tough decision on whether to break hands from a weak eighty-seven to a strong ten.

There are a number of other places where shortstacked strategy differs from normal play. Being dealt in the big blind with 2 blinds, you probably have to call any raise, but what do you with a hand such as 9-9-9-8-7? Or if you were all-in on the big blind, drew five, and were dealt A-A-A-T-8? Full-stacked, these are trivial folds, but being forced to play merits knowing how to pilot them correctly.

How To Practice

Even though these scenarios are a staple of every triple-draw tournament, it is difficult to find opportunities to gain experience in them. One option is to find a normal cash game, buy in shortstacked and play your stack out, so that you are more likely to run into all-in situations. Alternatively, you can engineer them yourself. Play several five big bet freezeouts amongst your friends who are also interested in improving this facet of their game.

If you only have two players, designate one player as the short stacked player. Roll a dice, and give him that many number of big blinds. Deal out an entire six-handed table, and have the other person play all the other hands as if she was a full-stacked player. Have her start with the under-the-gun (UTG) hand, which she folds if normally unplayable, and moves on to the next hand until she finds something a player would play in that position. The only players chips’ which matter are the shortstack’s.

Play the hand out until the shortstacked player folds and deal another. Repeat this process until the shortstacked player has busted or reached a threshold of five big bets. Both players should encounter many situations they are not normally likely to face.

Know Your Math

Most players learn early in their drawing careers a pat jack is a small favorite (~51 percent) against any one-card draw on the river, because the situation is quite commonplace. However, all-in hands often devolve into rarer scenarios where players draw more than one card on the end.

A pat queen is a decent favorite (62-to-66 percent) over any two-card draw with one street to come. If the four remaining cards are a good wheel draw such as 7-4-3-2, drawing has similar equity, so it matters little what you do. In these situations, it’s slightly better to draw if you’ve thrown away a large number of duplicated cards, as you are less likely to pair again. Even all-in, it’s worth paying attention to the little things.

However, if your queen is very poor (Q-J-T-8-4, for instance), drawing one is a sizeable mistake as you are barely better than flipping (51-to-52 percent), so it’s better to stand pat and be happy that you’re winning the hand more than 60 percent of the time.
A pat king is also a small favorite versus even the best hands drawing two on the river, but much less so (52-to-55 percent), but there is a lot more nuance when dealing with those. This chart details this information:

Hand Type Cards Equity if Pat Equity if Draw 1 Correct Decision
Queen, Terrible Jack Draw Q-J-10-8-4 66.4% 52.5% Pat, 14% mistake to break
Queen, Wheel Draw Q-7-4-3-2 66.5% 66.4% Close, pay attention to dead cards, Pat by default
Queen, Open-Ended Straight Draw Q-6-5-4-3 71.8% 53.9% Pat, 18% mistake to break
King, Terrible Queen Draw K-Q-10-8-7 52.0% 46.8% Pat, 5% mistake to break
King, Wheel Draw K-7-4-3-2 55.1% 66.5% Break, 11% mistake to pat
King, Jack Draw K-J-10-6-2 53.3% 53.5% Neutral point, pay attention to dead cards
King, Gutshot-Straight Draw K-9-8-7-5 55.8% 50.6% Break, 5% mistake to break

The most important heuristics to glean from this chart:

• It can never be a big mistake to pat a queen versus someone drawing two on the last draw. Sometimes, it is slightly better to break with a smooth wheel draw, having discarded your pairs, but you should default to patting.

• Pat kings are more interesting. Unlike queens, it can be a large mistake to pat or break depending on what you have, so you cannot simply default to one option.

• You should break all kings coupled with a premium draw. With your worst kings, it is imperative to stay pat. The breakeven point is at K-J where I would use discarded cards to assist in my decision making.

• If you have a straight draw when you discard your king, you should always pat your hand. Holding the pat king is always better, though sometimes only slightly so.

• One of the best ways to get an edge in poker is to improve in areas that no one else is even considering. If you play deuce-to-seven triple-draw, all-in situations are a largely ignored sector despite being a situation every rounder in the field will encounter. ♠

Ben Yu attended Stanford University but knew even before finishing that he wanted to embark on a journey to become a one of the finest professional mixed-game players. He made his debut onto the tournament scene in 2010 with a second-place finish in the World Series of Poker $1,500 limit hold’em shootout and followed it up in 2011 by leading the WSOP with seven cashes across six different games. In 2012, he moved to Rosarito, Mexico in order to continue playing online and was enthralled to perform well at the World Championship of Online Poker, including a final table appearance at the $10,300 poker 8-Game High Roller, and a cash in the main event.