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Seventh Street Play

As far as those situations where you can beat some of his legitimate poker hands, they generally arise when it is going to be very close and you have to worry about your third or fourth highest card. If the player bets

And you have

You have a call because he might have bet 7-6-5-3-2. One more example would be where you rival has something like

And you have

You will be forced to call expecting that he is poker betting a 7-6-5-3-A, which he would since he only will be afraid that you have a 2-A in the hole. Sometimes you are in a situation where there is a chance your rival is bluffing and there is also a chance of betting a hand that is little worse than yours. When such situation occurs, you have to add up the two chances in your mind and see if the sum of those chances makes it worth a call.

We will discuss the situation where your rival bets and you think you have the best hand. The question arises whether to raise or not. It is not correct to raise merely because you think you are favored to have the best hand. There are two reasons for this: The first one is that he may not call you and the second one he might re-raise you. It doesn't do you any good to raise with a hand that possibly has him beaten if he will not call unless he has you beat. It isn't even correct to raise with a hand that has him beaten if he will not call unless he is favored to have you beaten. You must still be the favorite to have him beaten even if he calls your raise in order to make a raise a correct play. With all that money in the pot, several players will automatically call your raise once they bet. What about the possibility of a re-raise? Several people say you should not raise unless you are more than a 2-to-1 favorite to have the best hand as you will have to call if he re-raises. This may not be true. It is true if you are up against a player who is capable of re-raising without having you beat. Against a player like this, you should little more careful in raising. When you are up against such a player, one of the essential factors is what cards do you have showing. If a player bets with online poker

And you have

It is okay to raise with a seven-four, but if you have

It is also very risky to raise with a seven-four since your rival now knows the best you can have is that seven. This is crucial concept. Specifically, you can afford to be a little more aggressive with marginally good hands if your board suggests your hand may be even better than if your board is giving away the maximum possible strength of your hand. You should be in the neighborhood of 65 percent to have the best poker high hand after a player has bet into you in order for it to be correct to raise.

The situation where your rival is first and checks is similar to the situation where he has to bet into you and you are thinking of raising. If he checks you should only bet if you are the favorite even when he calls. Simply because he is an underdog to have the best hand does not automatically mean that you should bet when he has checked. You must be the favorite even after he calls you. You should adjust for the possibility that he is planning to check-raise you.

Several players do not check-raise enough in razz and you normally don't have to worry about a check-raise. One exception is where he has checked blind or where you know he will check no matter what he has because you have been showing all the aggression all the way. Those players who will check blind or just check to you automatically will tend to be weaker players and they are just giving up a bit by playing in this manner. Conversely, in this case, you cannot bet average hands for value on the end into them, whereas you could into a tougher player who you can assume will come out betting if he has made a decent hand rather than go for a check-raise.

The examples of those situations where you should bet would be the normal cases where a player shows something like

And you have a seven low. This hand should be last bet. Whether you should bet an eight low is little more difficult. Generally, the answer is no. You should bet a good eight low if you have a strong suspicion that all he has is an eight-seven-six. Once again, in close decisions you can bet average hands if you don't fear a raise because of the cards that you have showing and the cards that he has showing and you would check those situations where a raise is a possibility. One important point on these average hands where he is going to check automatically would be the cards that are out.

Now we shall discuss those situations where you are first to act. One play that should be made frequently is usually made even by experts is the check-raise on the end. It is true that the opportunities of check-raising are often missed in razz. This is odd because there is fairly automatic situation. This situation comes when you have what seems to be something like an eight low and your rival has either two or three cards to a seven. Anytime you have a six low or a good seven at this point, you should check-raise. Once you check, your rival will virtually always bet a seven low. You can now raise and very few players can throw their hand away once they have put this money in the pot. But if you come out betting with your hand, most decent players will get a little bit tensed that you don't have an eight but have a real strong hand and they will simply call you. It comes up most of the time and not making such kind of play is ridiculous.

The Theory of Poker by David Sklansky gives the formula in regard to what is needed to make a check-raise profitable. What it boils down to is that if you average winning more by check raising than by betting, the check-raise is the better play. Many times when you appear to have a decent hand and he has a draw to an even better hand, you should check it even if your hand is very strong, as he will bet if he makes his hand. You not only have a chance to check-raise but also have a chance to steal a bluff. So, for example if you have

And actually have a bicycle you should certainly check to

As you are not only going to get a double bet if he makes a seven or better but you may also attract him to bluff if he misses altogether. Should players not paying you off when you actually this raise, you can help them of that very quickly by check-raising at this point without having them beat.

Checking and calling should be made if you do better by playing it this way than by checking and folding or checking and raising. You will find the exact formula in The Theory of Poker by David Sklansky which will not be discussed once again. An example where you should check and call would be if you have

And he has

And he has been betting all the through and you have a seven-five or seven-six. You actually don't want many alternatives but to check and call. This is true because your 7 is showing and you can't risk a raise. If however, you have a seven-five but the 7 is in the hole it can be a better play to come right out betting into a hand that could have you beaten only because it is better that you bet than check and call when you don't really have to fear a raise. Again all this is covered in The Theory of Poker by David Sklansky and it is recommended to all readers to read it. For example if you have a seven-five low but don't have a 7 showing and your rival has a three-card six showing especially if you think he will call you with a seven-six or an eight low but will check it if you check. To put other way, if you think your rival will check an eight and bet a seven-six or better, you should bet your seven-five to make sure you win your bet from the eight, especially if your board is strong that you are not afraid of a raise.

The option of check and fold is the best option in those cases where your chances of winning do not guarantee a call on the pot odds. This does not occur too frequently in razz as the pot is quite big and if you have been in all the way it is difficult to make that fold. About the only time you can do it is against a player you are sure very rarely bluffs. Remember the three factors that are important in determining how you play your hand at the end are the cards that are out, the way the hand has been played and the cards that are showing. This last factor is very important amongst all. If you have

And someone raises you on the end you should throw away your seven-four. But if you have a 2-3-7 showing and someone raises you on the end, you have to pay it off as you may be raising with a seven-five-trey-deuce-ace.

Finally the important aspect of seventh poker street is whether to bluff or not. In either case, you should bluff with a bad hand as long as you think your chances of getting away with it are better than the odds you are getting from the pot.

Evaluating your chances of pulling off a bluff is something which can be learnt from experience. However, there are concepts and guidelines based on reading hands (an example is given in the problems that follow). You should try bluffing if your hand appears good and he doesn't seem to have much.

Therefore, just as in every other form of poker, an important aspect of razz when determining either whether to bluff or bet for value is not just reading your rival's hands but figuring what he also reads you for. More of such implications are discussed in the chapter of "Psychology" in The Theory of Poker.

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