Monday, June 23, 2008

Stupid/System 008: Other Poker Games

A lot has happened following the invention of poker at the first WSOP in 1973. First, Doyle Brunson won 2 main events. Then, Johnny Chan did it. Then, Phil Hellmuth ate Stu Unger and absorbed his power. Then came the movie Rounders, starring John Malkovitch and Good Will Hunting, which revolutionized strategy and brought an end to the shameful practice of eating cookies at the table. Some time after that, Doyle Brunson's son Todd became one of the widest poker players in history. Finally, Christian "Moneymaker" Monkeymaker took down the big one on ESPN in one of the seminal moments of poker history, and Texas Hold Them Poker became hugely popular around the world, leading to the creation of Scandinavians.

But that's not all that has come from the enormous popularity of hold 'em. In recent years, other games based on poker rules have cropped up. These are known as "non Hold 'Em games" or "poker variants" (e.g., "I couldn't play at those stakes on a regular basis, I just can't handle the variants").

Unlike no-limit Hold 'Em, most of these games don't involve as much skill, and some don't even have a flop. However, since more and more people are playing them, it would behoove us to examine each one, along with some brief words of strategy. Also, we'll let you know which car each game resembles.

Limit Hold 'em. "The Toyota Camry of Poker." This game is played exactly like Hold 'em, but without excitement.

Pot Limit Omaha. "The F-Series Pickup of Poker". This game is played exactly like hold 'em, with a flop, turn, and river, but with a key distinction: You can only bet the pot at any given time, so you often can't get all in until the flop or even the turn. Also, you have four starting cards, which limits your outs. This is obvious if you think about it; cards in your hand can't very well come on the flop, can they?

The best thing to do with PLO is to offset your limited outs with careful play. Wait until you have four cards that are all one suit, so you only have to flop one card for a VERY well-concealed flush. Or if you're dealt three or even four of a kind, you might consider betting your quads. As you can see, this is a game designed for slow-playing.

Seven Card Stud Hi. "The Kia Sportage of Poker." This is a strange game in which you can only bet the amount of the big blind. And about the big blind; it just kind of jumps around randomly, kind of like a stud at a singles bar (hence: Stud).

Anyway, you're dealt two cards face down. So far, so good. But then, you get just one up, that only you can use, and nobody else. This is awesome because it means that you never get in one of those awful situation where your cards are strong but somebody else has it better. After the first round of betting, you get another card up, then another, then another, then another. There's a lot of cards, and after each one, there is betting. This is a lot of betting, but remember again, the bets are small. (A quick tip to keep from looking like a noob: If you get a card face down, that's not a dealer mistake; it's just a kind of insider poker way of indicating that it's the last card in the hand. I usually just flip it up and keep playing, though it should be noted that most online poker software doesn't allow you to do this.)

Razz. "The El Camino of Poker." This game is just like Seven Card Stud Hi, but at the end the pot is just assigned to a random winner. It's more like roulette. Just call and call and call, and hopefully you'll win.

Five Card Draw. "The Dune Buggy of Poker." Are you sitting down? This awesome game lets you change your hand if you don't like it! Seriously! It's not cheating or anything! The positive expected value that you can generate in a game like this is astounding.

For example, let's say you're dealt Ac5d9sTh6c. You can go for five different quads, four different flush draws, five different straight draws . . . it's amazing. Or just discard three and go for less flushes and straights, but a better chance at a full house. It's really up to you, and every hand has nearly infinite possibilities.

Triple Draw Lowball. "The I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream of Poker." Don't play this. I have no idea what happens with this game, but now a guy named "Johnny Knuckles" is looking for me. If he asks, you haven't seen me.

Omaha Eight-or-Better. "The Gremlin of Poker" This is an imaginary game that nobody plays, like soccer.

RISK. "The Board Game of Poker." Just secure a continent, protect your border, and don't forget to use your extra army cards.

OK, now that you know all these variants, you are ready to play any of these games in tournament, ring or in 'Combo" games like HORSE, SHOE, HOSE, HO, HA, SHORE, SOAP, or SNORE. Get out there, remember to keep your eyes open, and be a little careful at the Razz table. For some reason, I tend to get a lot of death threats there.


BWoP said...

Oh how I have missed this series!

I must be an imaginary person - playing both O-8 AND soccer. But then again, I'm foreign. That's my excuse.

(My word verification was auxfwk - I immediately thought of Fuel. Scary.)

Mike Maloney said...

"I couldn't play at those stakes on a regular basis, I just can't handle the variants"


Patch said...

Badugi. "The Customized Honda Civic of Poker." This game is a smörgåsbord of features from other poker games. You get four cards, just like in Omaha. You get to change your hand, like in Five Card Draw, only better, because you can change it three times. Except on Tuesdays before noon, when you get to change it four times unless you hold a half-fizzbin. You try to get a low hand like in Triple Draw, except you must discard any shralk and all cards within two pips of each other. You then add up the pips on your cards, only counting half for red cards less than 7, then divide by the square root of minus one. The player whose head hasn't exploded is the winner.

Drizztdj said...

If the novel content is anything close to the poker humor, I'd love to see it ASAP.

Good luck to you sir.

Poker Brian said...

Razz. "The El Camino of Poker." This game is just like Seven Card Stud Hi, but at the end the pot is just assigned to a random winner. It's more like roulette. Just call and call and call, and hopefully you'll win.

OMG JG... why couldnt you tell me this BEFORE i played it for cash.

But to be fair, its more like RUSSIAN roulette. At least you can "always bet on black" in roulette.

(quote licensed by permission from the IRS on behalf of Wesley Snipes)

Iak said...

wonderful. i may be wrong, but i think you share my habit of laughing out loud in delight at the way words can be put together.

the line, "...brought to end the shameful practice of eating cookies at the table" is so perfectly executed I am green with envy.

auxfwk indeed.

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