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Triple Draw: The River Value To Bluffing Ratio

by Kevin Haney |  Published: May 17, 2023


Being a one-winner draw game, there is a ton of variance in Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw Lowball (27TD). Frequently the matter will come down to the final draw with two players each taking a single card.

While the superior draw is a favorite, it’s not by a large margin, and winning these “flips” for several big bets will often make or break your night. In these spots it’s better to be lucky than good, but playing the river correctly will add to your expectation and most importantly, prevent you from making a big mistake in a large pot.

Suppose that heading into the third draw there are eight bets in the middle, our opponent has 2-5-7-8, and we hold 2-3-4-6 in position. Unfortunately, on the last draw we make a pair of sixes and our opponent leads into us. Even though we are getting 9:1 on our call, this is a clear fold, right?

While it is opponent dependent, we should actually at least call most of the time.

Certainly, if your opponent never bluffs and you have observed your opponent check and give up with top pair, we can muck. However, if your opponent would bet either a pair of sevens or eights, it’s a clear call.

If we assume that our opponent will bet all jack lows or better, along with made pairs of sevens and eights, he will lead the following 26 cards:

Value (20): Threes (3), Fours (3), Sixes (2), Nines (4), Tens (4), and Jacks (4)
Bluffs (6): Eights (3), Sevens (3)

If this is indeed his river-betting strategy, his value to bluffing ratio is approximately 3.33:1 (20/6), and our hand is good an overwhelming amount of the time versus the pot odds received. In fact, even if he’s only betting a made top pair of eights his value to bluffing ratio is 6.67:1 (20/3), which still constitutes a call.

If the odds you are receiving from the pot are greater than his probable value to betting ratio, you should call. Someone who never bluffs has an infinite ratio, and against them you should theoretically only call with holdings that beat an adequate portion of their value hands.

However, in practice if you can beat any value hands whatsoever you should typically err on the side of calling. It takes a long time to accurately assess that a certain individual is incapable of bluffing; they might not have had an opportunity or simply never got caught.

Getting back to the example above, the situation is even better if your opponent only bets ten lows or better and/or if you have paired along the way. Both of these will swing the ratio further in your favor.

For example, if you take four jacks and one three out of the equation, his value to bluffing ratio now becomes 2.5:1 (15/6).

If your read on your opponent is that they have a tendency to massively over-bluff (i.e. bet pairs smaller than sixes), then you should raise a pair of sixes. Never let a villain value-town you with a pair of fives! A six-high straight should also be raised.

The 2-3-4-5, 2-3-4-6, and 2-4-5-6 type hands are the best bluff catchers since they completely unblock top pairs of sevens and eights that many opponents are prone to bluff. And when your opponent leads, the odds of having the best hand are slightly greater when you pair then when making a king low. This is not a linear decision, and thus doesn’t make sense to call with a king low, but fold a pair of threes.

Sometimes the reverse is true and we have 2-5-7-8 and paired either the seven or eight along the way, maybe even both. In that situation you can possibly fold a hand as good as 10-8-7-5-2 on the river, particularly in a smaller pot where the turn got checked through. Your opponent will have very few bluffs, and is rarely value betting a lesser holding.

One spot where the value to bluffing ratio can get completely out of whack is a one-card draw versus someone taking two on the final draw. If the player drawing one bet the turn, they are often surprised that the hand is not over. This initial shock and lack of experience in the situation often results in errors made on the river.

Typically, the one-card draw won’t value bet light enough and is also prone to over-bluff when they wouldn’t in the situation with both players taking one. Even though their range is exactly the same, they seem to feel that their opponent should give them more credit for a hand. Some of it might be psychological in that they feel more entitled to win, and they also might still be wondering why the pot wasn’t theirs on the turn.

Whatever the reason, it often induces them to bluff any pair. Then on the value side, they might not even bet a hand as good as a ten or jack low. Versus a two-card draw, an out-of-position player should probably bet a queen low for value. After all, the average made hand for a two-card draw is a king low, and you will often get called by that and worse.

We must always take the following into consideration when making river decisions:

• Size of the pot
• Our holding and the cards we have seen
• Opponent’s tendencies and best estimate of his river value to bluffing ratio

It’s important to take all of the above factors into account, and not just abide by some rigid formula of simply calling down with a pair of deuces or better and folding worse. Details matter, having seen multiple sevens and eights can reduce an opponent’s bluffing frequency drastically, while completely unblocking potential high pairs makes a bluff far more likely. Playing the river with more surgical precision will pay off in the long run. ♠

Kevin Haney is a former actuary of MetLife but left the corporate job to focus on his passions for poker and fitness. He is co-owner of Elite Fitness Club in Oceanport, NJ and is a certified personal trainer. With regards to poker he got his start way back in 2003 and particularly enjoys taking new players interested in mixed games under his wing and quickly making them proficient in all variants. If interested in learning more, playing mixed games online, or just saying hello he can be reached at