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Triple Draw Poker Strategy: Playing Against A Pat Hand

Haney ExplainsHow To Determine How To Continue In The Hand

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In Deuce to Seven Triple Draw Lowball (27TD), how we should best proceed against a pat hand is a function of the opponent we are up against and the action that has taken place. In some situations, we are almost certainly up against a real hand that is on average quite strong, whereas in others we are more frequently up against a collection of weak hands and snows.

In this article we’ll examine several different ways our opponent can arrive at his pat hand, and what needs to be considered when deciding whether to continue in the hand by calling and chasing, or possibly getting aggressive and making a move at the pot.

Villain Was Pat From The Start

When a solid player opens from early position and pats on the first draw, his range is mostly any eight or better low, in which case the median holding is an 8-6 made. He may also have some smooth nines such as 9-6-5-3-2, where patting is reasonable due to the underlying straight draw since there are fewer outs to make either a seven or an eight.

Hands he probably doesn’t have are convertible nines (e.g. 9-7-5-4-2) that want to break and draw at a premium hand, or the rough nines (e.g. 9-8-7-5-4) that are typically folded due to reverse implied odds with so many players left to act.

Overall, this is a strong pat range, and even if the pot was re-raised before the first draw, we generally require a one card draw to an 8-6 or better in order to continue on the turn. Even if we assume that our opponent has all of the smooth nines in his range, a draw to 2-3-7-8 is still going to be drawing dead around 45% of the time and has less than 15% equity.

However, when our opponent opens from the cut-off, button, or small blind, rough holdings such as 9-8-7-5-4 and 9-7-6-5-4 would now be in most players’ ranges. Against this slightly weaker distribution of hands, we can consider continuing with smooth 8-7 draws and occasionally make a move at the pot in an attempt to get the villain to either fold or break.

In all cases where our opponent was pat from the start, it generally isn’t worth it to snow catch on the river with ten and jack lows. Many players don’t have the initial pat-bluff play in their arsenal and even if they do it is often a very small part of their range, perhaps when they got dealt trip deuces.

Villain Drew One Then Was Pat On Second Draw

When our opponent initially drew one and is pat on the second draw, the action that occurred on the pre-draw betting round has a tremendous impact on the range of hands you are facing.

For example, suppose we open from first position in a six-handed game (the lo-jack) and get re-raised by a solid opponent to our direct left. Against our early position raise, villain will typically have a high concentration of legitimate one card draws (D1s) including 2-3-4-7, 2-5-6-7, 2-3-5-8, 3-4-6-8, and very little to none of the weaker D1s such as 3-6-7-8 and 4-5-6-9.

Therefore, when our opponent pats on the second draw, it’s often a powerful holding and almost never a snow. What makes this range especially strong is that if our opponent is a solid player, he will correctly break nine lows that have a strong underlying draw. For example, he will continue to draw at 2-3-4-7 instead of patting 9-7-4-3-2 on the second draw in order to retain his implied odds.

Against this strong range, a D1 to a good 8-6 (e.g. 2-4-6-8) is borderline and continuing with a draw to an 8-7 or worse is too loose. And once again, this would not be a good time to snow-catch on the river as our opponent has very few hands that he wants to turn into a bluff.

When it’s the button versus the blinds, there’s a more untrusting dynamic and more hands are in play. For example, an aggressive player in the small blind will often three-bet a button open with holdings such as 3-6-7-8, 3-5-6-7, and 4-5-6-9. These are hands that our opponent will frequently “quick pat” or opt to turn into a snow after completely bricking. For example, if villain started with 4-5-6-9 he would likely pat a 10-9-6-5-4 low or turn 9-6-6-5-4 into a bluff.

Against this wider range, it’s usually correct to continue on the turn with any 8-7 draw and snow-catch on the river. This is of course, assuming your opponent is capable of playing in an aggressive manner and turning their weak hands into snows.

Knowing what your opponents are capable of and what they are not is critical to your success in any form of poker. Some passive players may choose to just call (or even fold) their weaker D1s that don’t contain a deuce and against opponents such as these we should just play our draws assuming that their pat range is strong.

Villain Drew Two Then Was Pat On Second Draw

The same principles apply when our opponent goes from drawing two to pat; we must give a strong range its due respect but make looser call downs when a higher concentration of weak holdings are possible. An opponent who originally opened from early position will have fewer nines and snows than someone who either open-raised from the button or defended the big blind against a possible steal.

For example, if an early position opener started with 2-3-7 he typically would not want to turn a caught two pair or trips into a snow as it still has potential to make a premium hand with two draws to go. In contrast, our opponent would have a much better snow candidate if he had instead defended the big blind with 3-7-8 against the small blind and caught trip sevens on the first draw.

In summary, when deciding how to proceed on the turn and river against a pat hand we always have to consider both our opponent and the strength of his range given how the hand has been played. In wide range situations against loose aggressive opponents, we should tend to get relatively sticky.

However, we are allowed to fold draws as good as 2-3-7-8 or even 2-5-6-8 on the turn when our opponent often has a powerful holding. Contrary to what many players appear to believe, we are under no obligation to continue drawing to any eight low as we must always consider the real possibility of drawing dead and the reverse implied odds that come with that. ♠

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 haneyk612@gmail.com.