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Last issue we discussed the fundamentals of playing after the first draw in Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw Lowball (27TD) with a focus on heads-up confrontations.
When pots are contested by three or more players, however, there are other considerations to take into account.
Similar to a heads-up situation, if one player was drawing fewer cards on the first draw than all the other players, they typically have an automatic flop bet regardless if they improved or not. The lone exception may be when it’s a two-card draw (D2) versus a couple of players drawing three.
The main difference between heads-up pots and those contested multi-way is that it is often correct to get more aggressive and raise in certain situations where if the pot was contested against a single opponent we would have simply called. We should consider raising whenever we have the chance to knock out another player or to “squeeze” a player in the middle who probably did not improve for value.
A few examples will help demonstrate these concepts.
Common Equity Denial Situation
Suppose an early position player opens, the cutoff calls, and we overcall on the button with 2-3-8. Our hand is good, but not great, and even if we held a premium D2 such as 2-3-5 and 2-3-7 a smooth call before the first draw is still probably the best play. Even though the cutoff is often drawing two we aren’t pushing much (if any value) because of the possibility that the early position opener has a one-card draw (D1) or pat holding.
However, in this particular example all players drew two on the first draw. On the flop, the early position player checks, the cutoff bets, and having improved to 2-3-6-8 we decide to put in two bets. While we have a fairly strong D1 our raise isn’t specifically for value as the cutoff could easily have a stronger D1 or a pat hand and it also reopens us up to a potential three-bet.
We are raising and thus risking “value-owning” ourselves slightly in order to deny the equity of the third player in the pot. The original opener usually has a strong but unimproved D2 with which he would be correct to call one bet.
However, since we made it two bets he is now forced into a decision between relinquishing his equity or incorrectly calling two bets cold, and we are fine with either result. While we may be taking slightly the worst of it against the cutoff’s D1 or pat range we do have position on him and denying the equity of the third player or giving him the opportunity to make an incorrect call is the most important consideration.
Another (More Precarious) Equity Denial Situation
An early position player opens, we smooth-call in the hijack with 2-5-7 and the button overcalls. On the first draw the early position player draws one and both we and the button take two. On the flop the early position player leads out which he will almost always do regardless if he improved or not and we raise after improving to 2-4-5-7.
Even though we have a stronger draw than the previous example this raise is a little more dangerous for a few reasons, the first being that the early position opener was originally drawing one and may now have a pat hand. The second is that we have absolutely no information regarding the button’s holding. In the first example we are attempting to deny the equity of the first player who had checked highly indicating he had not improved. In this example, the button has not yet acted on his hand thus we have no information on his holding.
That said, this is a risk well worth taking and we should raise what is most often an automatic bet from the first player. Our goal is to knock out the button and secure position with hopefully the best draw, and if this happens, we have gained tremendously.
Our raise may even knock out some one card draws that the button could have improved to because facing a bet from an original D1 and a raise from us his one card draws to an 8-6 or 8-7 low should probably hit the muck. However, even if they continue on with these draws we either have around 40 percent equity in a three-way pot when everyone is drawing one or if the original bettor is pat and three-bets the button’s overcall helps subsidize our draw.
It certainly helps here that we have a premium draw to fall back on should the button cold-call two and/or the original raiser three-bets with a pat hand. If your draw is much more mediocre such as a draw to an 8-7 or 8-6 low our best play is probably to just call the flop unless we have seen many blockers which makes it less likely everyone else has improved.
While marginal draws benefit even more from knocking out the player behind you these rougher draws simply fare too badly equity wise against the early position opener’s range of D1s that may have improved to a pat hand.
D1 Versus D1 Versus D2
In a situation where two players drew one on the first draw and another player took two, it is important for one of the original D1s involved in the pot to bet the flop and charge the D2. For example, suppose the hijack opens, the button re-raises, the big blind calls two cold, and the draws starting with the big blind go 2/1/1.
On the flop what usually occurs is that the big blind (who was drawing two) will check and so will the hijack unless he has made a pat hand. If the action checks to button he should bet regardless if he improved to make sure the big blind is charged.
Amongst experienced regulars this is an implicit collusion spot in that the hijack has what may be considered an unspoken agreement to refrain from “sandbagging” the button with a pat hand. If the hijack chooses to check his entire range planning to check-raise the field when he is pat, the button may check behind with some frequency and in the long run this would slightly lower the expectation of both of the players drawing one.
Squeeze Value Raise
In our final scenario to consider, suppose three players each took two cards on the first draw. The first player leads out on the flop, the second player calls, and the third player raises with a premium one-card draw to a seven. Here the raise is not intended to knock anyone out but rather it is to “squeeze” some value on the flop betting round at the expense of the player in the middle who is most often still drawing two.
The original bettor will sometimes have a strong pat holding; however, this is frequently not the case as going from a D2 to a pat hand is a relatively rare occurrence especially with so many low cards accounted for. Even if the first player does have a made low and three-bets, the third player is still doing just fine with a premium draw, position, and at least one bet contributed by the player stuck in the middle.
Most of our decisions on the flop are relatively straight-forward, we just should look to deny equity and/or collect a bit of extra value wherever we can. Handling pat nines or draws to them after the first draw is where many players struggle and that will be the entire focus of the next installment on 27TD. ♠
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. His new mixed-games website Counting Outs is a great starting resource for a plethora of games ranging from the traditional to the exotic. He can be reached at email@example.com.