On The Come
in stud and hold 'em games, it is usually a mistake
to raise with a good but not a great hand when you
think your opponent - particularly a very tough opponent
- has bet or raised on the come for a flush or a straight.
If his bet was legitimate, he probably has you beat,
so you're simply donating money to the pot. If he
was on the come, he has an easy call of your raise,
which eliminates most of the reasons for you to make
it. Thus, even if you were quite sure that the QJ9
earlier in this topic had only a four-flush, you would
not be correct in raising. You would only call.
However, when you call an opponent who you think is
on the come, you usually do so with the intention
of betting right out on the next round any time that
opponent draws a blank card that would not make his
hand if he was in fact on the come. You now become
the favorite if your opponent was on the come, and
you don't want to give him a free card.
There is a mathematical reason for you to play your
hand this way. Let's say you bet with two cards to
come, and someone raises you. You estimate that there
is a one-third chance that player has you beat and
a two-thirds chance he is on a draw. Nevertheless
in most cases he is still a mathematical favorite.
So you can only call the raise since you're the underdog.
However, when the next card cannot have made his flush
or straight if he was drawing to it, now, with only
one card to come, you have reverted to being the favorite.
So you should usually bet. On the other hand, if that
card makes the possible flush or straight, you should
usually check and fold if your opponent bets, unless
you are getting good enough pot odds to chase. Your
opponent almost certainly has you beat, whether he
was originally betting a legitimate hand or betting
on the come.
Here is an example of this calling defense against
a possible semi-bluff that came up when I was playing
recently in a seven-stud game. I started with a three-flush
and a 10 showing and was lucky enough to make three
8s on fifth street. I bet, and a good player who caught
with the J
as his door card raised. I reasoned the raise meant
one of three things. Either my opponent had started
with kings in the hole, in which case he was raising
with the best hand; or he had started with two jacks,
made kings up, and raised, figuring I was betting
10s and 8s; or he had a flush or a straight draw.
I called the raise. When no heart, ace, or 9 fell
on sixth street, which might make a straight or flush,
I bet right out, much to my opponent's surprise, for
my opponent had been expecting to get a free card.
It turned out the opponent was in fact on a flush
draw with a small pair, and the three 8s held up.
(Of course, if a heart, ace, or 9 had fallen, the
play in this instance would have been to check and
call since there was a reasonable chance for me to
make a full house on the last card.)
critical principle of playing hi/lo split games is
to play for the whole pot. Winning half the pot can
be a nice consolation prize, and if the pot is contested
multiway, then getting just half the pot can even
be profitable. Getting half the pot when you contributed
one-third is slightly profitable for you. But it's
not a road to riches and it's not your primary goal.
Winning the whole pot is called scooping and a scoop
should be your goal in every pot you play. You don't
want to draw for a chance at half the pot, you do
not want to chase in the hopes you just get your money
back. If you don't have decent prospects for a scoop,
then just don't play.
Since hi/lo split games in casinos are played with
a qualifier, requiring 8-low or better to qualify
as a low hand, sometimes no one will have a low and
there won't be a split pot. Generally, there are two
direct ways to scoop: win the high end when no one
has a qualifying low or win both the high and low
ends. But there's also a third way to scoop: having
everyone else fold without a showdown. You can often
scoop this third way when you have half the pot locked
up, with a nut low or nut high, and play very aggressively.
When you have half the pot locked up, you can often
just use aggression to dissuade an opponent with a
weak hand from trying to compete for the other half.
If he doesn't call, you win. This situation tends
to arise more often when you have a low hand for two
reasons. One is that nut lows are easier to make than
nut highs and the other is because when you have the
nut low, it's not as likely someone has a draw to
the nut high as it is that someone has a draw to the
nut low when you have the nut high.