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Fourth Street Play

When determining the correct play in razz on fourth street, we shall separate the possible situations in a number of cases. First, there is a situation where your rival has not started off with a good three-card hand and situations where you didn't started off with a good three-card hand. These will be dealt later on. But we will consider only those cases where you have started with a good three-card hand and you assume your rivals have also. Again for the time being we will assume that you are playing against one rival. Let us call the situation where both you and your rival have caught a good card on fourth street . We have explained in case-wise. Case No.1 Case No.2 would be where you caught a good card and he caught a bad card. Case No.3 would be where you caught bad card and he caught a good card. And Case No.4 would be where you both catch bad cards.

We will discuss Case No.4. When we say bad card, it means that the card 10 or higher or a pair showing. The best play if you have caught a bad card and your rival has also depends on a variety of factors. If you have caught, let's say 10 and he has caught a king your hand is still a favorite and should generally be bet. However, if you caught a king and he has paired his door card you should not bet because you are even the favorite. This is a very important concept which is explained in The Theory of Poker. The reason you should not bet when you catch a king and he pairs is because you will have to bet first from that point on. This is bad down to the river, as he has position on you. In most of the cases, it is not right to bet a queen into a pair or a queen into a king. In either case, you will likely be betting first if the hand does go all the way to the end and the little mathematical edge that you have as far as making a better hand is more than compensated by his positional advantage. You can take it to the point where if he bets his kings into your pair, you can raise profitably because of your positional advantage and if he checks you can surely consider betting. Do not go much beyond with this concept. A jack against a pair is about an even situation. If you both catch bad cards, it is not worth a bet if you are low. If he is low and bets it is certainly worth the call!

There is one exception to it. It has to do with a general principle of play poker which is associated to the poker fundamental Theorem of Poker. This principle is to try to get your rival to make a mistake. Sometimes situations will tempt a rival into making a mistake and you may be in a position to create this situation. One possible position would very well be fourth street in razz where you both caught bad cards. If you are against a rival who will call on fifth street with a three-card hand against your obvious four-card hand but only if there is a bet on fourth street, you have to bet at that point. The reason is because of the fact that a player who calls with three-card hand on fifth street against a four-card hand is committing a big mistake. Suppose if you have

And think he might be having a hand like

You should bet if this bet will now add enough money to the pot so that he will wrongly think that he should play on fifth street if he catches a bad card and you catch a good card. Had you not bet on fourth street against this player he would no longer think the pot was big enough to make this bad play. If you bet him on fourth street you know that he will call on fifth street only if you catch good card and he catch bad. Even if you bet on fourth street, you decide to fold if it comes good to him and bad to you, but your extra bet has set up a situation where he will now play incorrectly.

(This concept applies in various games of poker and has another example on third street play in razz. For example, in the earlier situation, where you are debating re-raising on third street, knowing that if you don't re-raise, your rival will incorrectly call on fourth street should it come bad to him and good to you, but if you do re-raise he would no longer be making a mistake by calling on fourth street. Re-raising will add to the pot which you would both be forced to come again no matter which card you caught. Similarly, if you have a very good three-card hand and his appears to be almost weak hand it is very important to re-raise him as you will be forced to come anyway on fourth street irrespective of the result but by putting more money in the pot he will incorrectly think that he should come on fourth street although he catches a bad one and you catch a good one, when because of the strength of your hand, he should have folded. Developing such kind of situation either by the way you play the hand or by manipulating the size of the pot to give your rival a chance to make a mistake on a later round is very advanced strategic kind of play that has never been discussed before.)

Next, in Case No.2 where you catch a good one and he catches a bad one, it is obviously correct for you to bet even if you have paired your hole card, and in many cases he will be making a bad call if he calls.

In Case No.3 where you catch a bad card and he catch a good card is one of the most important situations in razz. It is your major money maker because unless there has been a double raise on third street or your hand is very good in that it is low and very live you should fold when he bets. Those players who automatically come again on fourth street when they have started with a good three-card hand are costing themselves more money. When you doubt something just throw your hand away. It can never be more than a small mistake in the extreme situations.

And last, in Case No.1 where you both catch good cards. This case can be separated into those cases where you catch a good card but have secretly paired and those cases where you haven't paired. We should also consider who has the lower board and accordingly bet first. If you have the lower board, have to bet first and have not paired and you are up against two other low cards showing, there is no set way to play. Therefore, it is important to mix up your play. Your three options are to bet, to check and call if he bets and to check-raise if he bets. Against many players you should check and call thereby making them suspect that you have a pair. Those players who put lot of thinking in their reading ability and who have high suspicions that you have paired when you play it this way can be trapped very badly. For example, if you check


And then just call when he bets you may make a six or seven low on the next card while he catches a bad one. You have fairly a cinch but because he thinks you have a four-card seven against his four-card eight he will continue to call you all the way. Your play of checking and calling on fourth street may have made you three double bets against players who tend to put more thinking in your weak play. This play is very profitable. The another advantage to this play against players who are little bit more doubtful of your poker tricks is that you can check and call when you have paired up and they don't automatically think that you have paired up as they have seen you trap others with this play. Therefore, the play of checking and calling with the extremely strong four-card hand, apart from having its value, allows you to check and call when you have paired up without automatically giving away your hand. The play with betting such kind of hand when you haven't paired up is definitely fine, especially if you doubt that your rivals have paired on fourth street . If you win the pot right there that is very okay and if he wants to call you with a pair that is fine too. Check-raising is good once in while. However, if you check-raise with your four-card six looking at a two-card seven you should also check-raise sometimes with a four-card eight when you are looking at what seems to be a four-card seven so that once again good players cannot get a line on your play.

Now what about when you have paired up? Since you will be playing as we suggested you can almost always check when you pair up and possibly call if he bets. By playing this way your rival cannot be sure that you are not slow-playing a big hand. Consequently, you may get a free card when you check because he may be suspicious that you are checking into him. You can sometimes bet your pair into his two-card hand if you are first.

What about if he is first? If he has a lower board and comes out betting and you haven't paired you should just call. You can raise once in a while but only to add some variety to your play; or if you have strong suspicions that he has paired or your cards are true live even though they are slightly higher than his. When he bets and you have paired you should certainly fold. This is not the same situation, however, as when bets and you have caught a bad one. If you have paired but it is hidden, your hand is not as bad as when you caught a bad one because at least if you catch another good one on fifth street and he catches a bad one he may throw his hand away, especially if he has paired. The case would be different if you caught a high card or a pair showing.

We will examine the case where you did not start off with a good three-card hand and he has caught a bad one. Now your hand is better than his. You may have a four-card ten and he doesn't even have that good a hand. But even if your hand is worse than that, you have the stronger board and you should bet even if you know he will call you, because if you catch another good one on fifth street and he catches one, the pot is automatically yours. However, if your hand seems near equal on fourth street but you actually do not have a three-card hand, you should just check and hope to get a free card and if you don't get one, simply throw your hand away. Some situations might call for you to check and call if he bets such as if you start with a three-card ten and he calls you with a 7 and now you both catch babies. You have an insignificant hand which you prefer to see a free card and which might get one since you do play tricky in this case. If he does bet you have a marginal call.

In the situation, where you may not have started off with three good cards you will usually be forced to call on fourth street when he catches a good one and you catch a bad one. This is true if the cards are live. However, in many cases, where you know that he may not have a three-card hand you should have already re-raised him on third street as earlier discussed. You have now automatically committed yourself to calling on fourth street no matter what happens and you do not have to worry about whether he did start with three good ones. It makes no difference.

When the pot is multi-way on fourth street you have a situation where if two players have caught good cards and one has caught a bad card, both players who have caught good cards have the best of it even if one hand is slightly better than the other. This is so since each is going to win the pot more than 33 percent of the time. Therefore, if the player who catches the bad card is persistent to stay in you should put him in the middle if possible with your raises even if you have the second best poker hand. In simple words, if one player catches a king and you catch a 7 and the third player catches a 6 you should never stop raising until the legal limit has been reached because you are getting 2-to-1 odds on each raise and you are not a 2-to-1 underdog.

It is better if you can get the player who has caught a bad one to fold immediately, thus giving up the amount of money he has in the pot. The correct way to do this is to try to play the hand in such a manner that he will have to call a double bet cold. Therefore, if you are first to bet and the high card goes next, you should check after which the high card will check and the other good hand will bet. Now you should raise and force the high card to call a double bet cold. However, if the person to your left is the other good hand you should bet if you know the other player to be the kind of player who will raise. If the other two-card hand is a mild player it is better to check to him, have him bet and now raise after the high card has called.

The bad thing that can happen would be for the high card to get in for a single bet. If you were the player who has caught a bad card on fourth street do not allow yourself to get caught in the middle even if there has been a double bet on third street . It is not worth getting caught in the middle of raises on fourth street as you are too much of an underdog. The correct time you can play on fourth street is if one low hand has bet and the other low hand has called and you know that there will be no raises behind you. Even this may not be correct to call, even if it would be correct to call against either one of the two hands individually. This is because of mathematical paradox that arises in multi-way pots in poker.This paradox will be discussed later on fifth street .

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