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Explain Poker Like I’m Five: Snowing

by Card Player News Team |  Published: Jun 24, 2015


When you’ve played poker for years, it’s easy to forget that technical poker speak may as well be a different language. Many players just picked up a deck of cards for the first time and are wondering what the hell a reverse implied range merge against a large stack to pot ratio is.

Maybe you are new to poker as well and want to start analyzing the game at a deeper level, but the lingo and foreign concepts get in the way. To help, _Card Player_ brings you this brand new series, Explain Poker Like I’m Five.

Every issue, we’ll take on a new term or idea, perhaps one you might come across elsewhere in this very magazine, and we’ll break it down to its simplest components.

The Concept: Snowing

What Is It?

In lowball draw games, snowing occurs when you stand pat with a hand that cannot win at showdown, signaling strength and giving more validity to your subsequent bluff attempt.

Okay, Now Explain It Like I’m Five

In lowball games, when a player has a good five-card hand and doesn’t need any more cards, he will stand pat. This lets the rest of the table know that he has a made hand, which is probably pretty strong. But occasionally, a player will stand pat with a bad hand, choosing to take no additional cards even though his own cards can’t win. He will then bluff with that hand, hoping everyone folds. This is called snowing.

Give Me An Example (Or Two)

Let’s say we are playing a game of deuce-to-seven triple draw. In this game, the best five-card hand is 7-5-4-3-2, since players are trying to make the lowest hand possible and aces are high and straights and flushes count against you.

You are dealt K-Q-7-4-2 on the button and come in for a raise. Only the big blind calls and he draws three cards. You get rid of your K-Q and draw two. Your next two cards are J-J, meaning you didn’t improve and now have J-J-7-4-2. Your opponent checks and you bet. He calls, then draws two cards, signaling he only improved to a three-card hand. At this point, you have the opportunity to snow.

You can also take two cards and hope to improve, or you can stand pat, which essentially tells your opponent you have already made a good five-card hand. After betting and getting another call from your opponent, he draws one final card. Once again, you stand pat and after making a bet, your opponent folds, having missed his draw. You have successfully snowed your opponent.

Your success with snowing goes up exponentially if you do it after pairing your small cards. Say you raise with K-Q-7-4-2 and get one caller, just like the situation outlined above. This time, on your draw, you are dealt 7-2. Now you have 7-7-4-2-2. Two pair is not a good lowball hand, however, now you know that it will be much harder for your opponent to draw a seven or a deuce, which makes it easier to snow.

Snowing can also be applied to other games such as ace-to-five lowball, badugi, and new variations such as badacey and badeucey. Sometimes a snow will be so effective, that players will break medium-strength made hands. For example, if a player makes a J-6-5-3 badugi but is facing significant pressure from a player who is snowing, he may throw away the jack hoping to improve, even though he already had the winner. ♠